Anglican Parish of Derby and Blackville

Rector’s Corner

Rector’s Corner,  August 1, 2021 – “Going Green – With Grace”, and other matters

“Going Green – With Grace”

This New Brunswick Day long weekend our province is returning to the ‘Green Phase’ and all mandatory regulations concerning the COVID-19 pandemic are suspended.   Public Health advises us to use caution and discretion in making our own personal and corporate decisions.   Our Bishop has, likewise, encouraged us to transition cautiously and with respect and kindness for the attitudes of others.

We need to be guided by the Grace of God in dealing with one another; be courteous and charitable to each other as we return to ‘normal’.  Of course, this needs to be the approach of Christians at all times, not just during a pandemic!  I wish to thank ALL parishioners for their patience, flexibility and good-natured cooperation during this often trying time of the past year or so.   And an especially big THANK YOU to all who have during this time stepped up and given of their time and effort to take on the extra load of cleaning and disinfecting our worship and meeting spaces, greeting, screening and ushering at our services, helping to mark off and set up our churches to comply with COVID regulations and for those who so faithfully registered weekly for attendance at services.

During this transition through the Green Phase to more ‘normal’ life and, pray God, the eventual end of the pandemic, we need to continue to grow in Grace.   Many will have different attitudes to the lifting of restrictions and varying levels of comfort in returning to normal Church and other activities.   So, for example, while you may feel fine doing everything without a mask, your neighbour may not.  Since most of us now have a big collection of masks why not consider having one with you at all times in case those you are speaking or dealing with would feel better if you wore one.   Just a small act of loving your neighbour.    There is also a lot of uncertainty as we approach fall with respect to COVID variants, vaccination rates and the possibility an increase of cases.

I plan to transition our worship back to ‘normal’ (more or less) over the next month or more.   During this time please feel free to share any thoughts with me in person or by phone or email.

Here’s how things will look at services for the next while:

  • No reservations or sign in required
  • Masks not required, but welcomed (disposable ones available at each church)
  • Distancing not required, but welcomed, if you wish – please make it clear you wish to sit ‘apart’
  • Sanitizer will still be available and encouraged
  • Holy Communion will continue in ‘one kind’ (Host only) in the same way as we have been doing – standing at Altar rail as individual/’bubbles’, going up and returning on the right side
  • Communion in your pew is always available, when needed – just ask
  • Keeping a distance (six feet) while chatting is still encouraged
  • Singing will be introduced gradually, starting with the settings for the Liturgy (Kyrie, Gloria, etc,) this week

 

The Transfiguration and Mid-week services

I have not been observing major Holy Days on weekdays with the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist during our period of restrictions.   I will be keeping the wonderful Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord (August 6) at 10 am this Friday morning at St. Agnes’.   All are welcome.   I hope during warmer weather to keep as many “Red letter days” (Feasts of Our Lord and major Saints’ days) as possible at different churches in the parish.   In the ‘heating months’ they will probably, mostly, be held at the Chapel of Our Lady (basement of Holy Trinity) which is heated more efficiently.   I will probably also alternate service times between morning and evening.   These days are edifying to keep – they build us up in the Faith.   They also give an opportunity for those who may have missed the Sunday Liturgy, or for those who may still feel a bit nervous about larger gatherings.   Please consider coming and bringing someone along who may benefit from a smaller congregation and (usually) shorter service.

This Feast marks a fascinating event in our Lord’s earthly ministry in which three chosen witnesses –the Apostles James the Greater, John and Peter – saw His Glory revealed as He spoke with Moses and Elijah about His “departure” (Greek= exodus),  meaning His entry into His Passion, Death and Resurrection.   They saw him as he truly is:  fully human and fully God in uncreated light “brighter than the sun”.

August 6th and 9th: 

Modern history also marks a major event on August 6th – the first use of an atomic weapon on human beings at Hiroshima, Japan near the end of WW II in 1945.   This was followed on August 9th by the second (and, hopefully last) such use on Nagasaki, Japan.   These A-bombs also radiated a light “brighter than the sun”.   They, however, did not reveal God’s glory but the devastation of war perpetuated by our fallen human nature.   This also reveals our desperate need of the one who is the “light of the world” and the Prince of Peace.   These days, all these years later, continue to be times for us to remember the cost of wars – for civilians and not just combatants – and to pray for peace.   (see, for example, Book of Common Prayer – Section 28, For Peace in the World, pages 50-51, and page 100, Advent Ember Days, “For peace in the world”)

 

Hospitals and Home Communion

I still need to depend on you all to keep me informed about who is in or going to hospital for illness, surgeries or treatments.   Information collected by the hospitals is often missing or not available to clergy.  I have a sizable list of people who are shut-ins or in long-term care facilities to whom I take the Sacrament regularly.   There are also those who need this ministry on an occasional basis (for example, those recovering at home) and some who have not returned to Church since COVID.   I try to keep up on these, but please let me know if you or someone you know is in need of this ministry.

 

Under the Mercy,

Fr. Gerry+


Rector’s Corner, July 4, 2021, Part 1:  “Grace and Truth”:   The London Ontario attack on a Muslim Family

I wish to take this opportunity to address this heinous crime.   I believe I made reference to it in the sermons at both St. Agnes’ and Holy Trinity on Trinity 2 (June 13).  We remembered the family and prayed for the situation in our Intercessions that Sunday, as well.  There are two important truths to remember here,

  1. We do, indeed, have deep and fundamental differences with our neighbours who profess the Islamic faith.   They centre on our convictions about who God is, primarily because we differ on the question of who Jesus is.  They believe Jesus is a Prophet, but only a prophet.  We know Him to be God the Son within the Holy Trinity.   We don’t need to forget this or pretend it is not important to have good relations with them, any more than we would expect them to pretend our differences don’t matter.
  2. We can have respectful differences with our Muslim neighbours (and with others of different faiths – or no faith), but there is NO place for us to hate We are called to pray for all, to treat them with the respect they are owed because, as we are, they too are created in the image and likeness of God.   We are called to love all people – even our enemies!   Differences with others whose beliefs, ethnic customs, language, or race are not the same as our own are no excuse for disrespect or hatred.   Remember St.John’s warning in the Epistle we heard on Trinity 1, that we cannot love the God that we have not seen and hate the neighbour we have seen.  (1 John 4:20, BCP, p. 218)

Even when we are engaging others specifically to tell them about our faith, “to give a reason for the hope that is in us”, St. Peter tells us to do so “with gentleness and reverence”  (1 Peter 3:15).   Since Jesus our Saviour is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14) and we are called to reflect His light in this world, we need to receive and show the world His grace, as well as His truth.   That is another way of saying that we must “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).   One Christian said, “If it is not the truth, then it is not loving.   And, if it is not loving, it is not the truth.”   It’s very difficult to tell someone ‘hard truths’ if we are not in a loving relationship with them (it even is when we are!)  If we speak with contempt, hatred, or feeling ‘superior’, we’re not likely to influence anyone positively.   That is why we need Jesus.  Only He is always full of grace and truth – towards us and everyone.   We must live our lives under the mercy granted by His grace and truth.

Rector’s Corner, July 4, 2021, Part 2: The 182 and Fires

The identification of another 182 unmarked grave sites at a former residential school near Cranbrook, BC, has swept the country with more pain and sorrow.   At the same time, wild fires are raging through Lytton, BC and other communities with devastating results (over 90% of Lytton’s buildings are gone)  We have also begun to hear about churches being deliberately set on fire, seemingly in angry response to the residential schools’ legacy.  Most of them have been Roman Catholic, but at least one Anglican church was destroyed this past week.   Every Indigenous community or church leader I have heard speak about these acts of arson or vandalism has said that it “is not our way” and that these individuals are only causing more pain to their people.  Many First Nations communities have been impacted by the wild fires, too.

Siobhan and I have been privileged to take part in several Sacred Circles online with Archbishop Mark MacDonald, our National Anglican Indigenous Archbishop and others.   I have been deeply impressed and humbled by the gracious spirit with which all are welcomed in these Circles and with their gentleness and peace-making approach to speaking and praying about these painful things.   They have reached out to others, such as the wild fire victims, in these times of prayer and shared information on how we can help them on the local level and through the PWRDF (see below).   There is another Sacred Circle tonight (July 4) at 9:00 pm Atlantic time, ask me for the information if you would like to join them, or, pray quietly at that same time, remembering the 182, the fire victims and those fighting fires.

A vesting prayer I say while putting on the cincture (rope belt):  “Quench in me the fire of concupiscence (inclination to evil desire; wanting to control things on my own terms).   Kindle in me the fire of the zeal of thy Holy Spirit.”   As many brothers and sisters endure wild fires and arson, let us pray to be delivered from the first kind of fire, that of concupiscence, and to be burning with the fire of Love and the spirit of grace and truth from the Holy Spirit.

Under the Mercy,

Fr. Gerry+

Donations to support the people of Lytton can be made online either through St. Paul’s Cathedral, Kamloops, BC (where it says “In honour of” you can put for “Lytton Fire Emergency Fund”) at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/53639  or, through the PWRDF at https://pwrdf.org/anglicans-invited-to-support-territory-of-the-people-in-aftermath-of-fire/

Or, you can put a donation in an envelope on the collection plate and mark it as “Lytton Fire Emergency Fund” and it will be sent to the PWRDF.


Rector’s Corner, June 27, 2021, Truth and Reconciliation: “Speaking the Truth in Love” (Ephesians 4:15)

Have you noticed that pretty much any place the Prayer Book speaks about the peace or unity of the Church it speaks first about truth?   For instance, the prayer for the Church universal:  “We humbly beseech thee for thy holy catholic church.   Fill it with all truth; in all truth with all peace.” It goes on to ask God that his truth purify, (re-) direct, reform, confirm, and furnish it and,  finally, “where it is divided and rent asunder, make it whole again; through Jesus Christ our Lord”.  (BCP, p. 39)

Also, every Sunday in the liturgy we ask God in the Intercession:  “to inspire continually the universal Church with the spirit of truth, unity and concord (peace)”, and for us, as individual Christian, “grant that all they that do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and live in unity and godly love (harmony, peace)”. (BCP, p. 75)

We find ourselves, yet again, facing a horrible uncovering of unmarked graves at a former residential school – 751 in the territory of Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan.  We know it will not be the last.   We mourn these precious lives and pray wisdom for community and government leaders and healing for all.   Even among those who do not share our Christian faith – or any faith – all are joining the calls for “truth and reconciliation”.   Reconciliation is about making things right between people, people and nature, and people with God.   We also need to be ‘reconciled’ to our own true self since we are all both beloved children of God and, at the same time, all sinners.  Reconciliation requires truth.   Even to ‘reconcile’ (or balance) our cheque book we need to first face the truth of our real income and expenses!

Reconciliation is what Christianity is all about:  making peace and harmony between those who are in broken relationships.

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5: 18-21)

The Bible makes it clear that reconciliation comes from hearing, knowing, accepting, and receiving the truth.  Jesus is “full of grace and truth”. (John 1:14)   Jesus tells us he is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)   He also teaches us that “the truth shall set you free”.

Siobhan and I usually take part in a monthly conversation of Anglicans cross-Canada online.   This past week, one member told us that they had recently invited a local First Nation’s Chief to speak at his church.   The Chief emphasized that reconciliation needs to start with reconciliation with God.  We need to know the real situation of ourselves, each other, our world and God to have peace and unity – to be reconciled.  Even in our personal relationships if we can’t trust each other to be ‘true’ to us and to tell us the truth, we can’t have a healthy relationship.   When we confess to God we need to be truthful.  It can often hurt, but it is the only way to peace and healing.

In this process of truth and reconciliation and healing that the Anglican Church of Canada has been in for quite some time, we all need to first draw near to the compassionate Sacred Heart of Jesus.   It’s the only place to get healing and reconciliation.  Let’s continue to pray for Archbishop Mark MacDonald and the self-determining Indigenous Church.  They are speaking the ‘truth in love’ with us.  Let us be ambassadors for reconciliation in Christ.

Archbishop MacDonald has organized several online (through ZOOM) Sacred Circles where the Gospel is central and studied together through reading and prayer.  The last of four of these Sacred Circles organized for this weekend in light of the announcement about the 751, is tonight (Sunday, June 27) at 9:00 pm (Atlantic).   If you are interested in joining, ask me for the information to do so.  If you cannot join them online, perhaps consider taking a few minutes at that time to be in prayer with them.

In his invitation, Archbishop MacDonald wrote:  “There is no defense for those who come in sheep’s clothing, yet act as ravenous wolves. The voices of the children have risen from the grave, through the prophetic power of resurrection and, standing with their redeeming Saviour, point us all towards the justice of the World to Come, the justice which is embodied in the good life, the good walk. They are the witnesses, the discernible residue, of a genocide that many have denied but now must be admitted. We must serve them with prayer, with love for one another, with forever honouring their memory, with never giving up, and with caring for and honouring the elders who have waited for their return. There will be trials for having Indigenous identity and trials for having Christian identity. Our elders have known this well. This is a very difficult hour, but it is an hour of Cross and Resurrection.”

Under the Mercy,

Fr. Gerry+


Rector’s Corner, June 6, 2021,   “215

This week our country and the Christian community have reeled in the wake of the discovery of 215 unmarked graves of Indigenous children on the grounds of the former Kamloops “Indian Residential School’ where they had lived and died. Many others have written and spoken more eloquently and powerfully than I can – especially among survivors and their descendants — but I feel under holy obligation to address some words to you, my flock.

There is unbelievable cruelty involved in taking children as young as four forcibly from their homes, parents, communities and culture, sometimes very far from those homes.  Abuse and neglect – including lack of medical care and malnutrition (often when the schools had farms that produced adequate healthy food that instead was fed only to staff and sold at market) – led to over 3000 of these children dying in the care of these residential schools. It is estimated by the 2015 report of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission that about one-third of these are undocumented, like those at Kamloops, BC. That our governments ran and funded these institutions in our name, and that they were usually directly operated by our Churches (Anglican and United, as well as Roman Catholic, as in Kamloops) is truly shameful and a deep sorrow for us as Christians.

We all remember the grief that swept over our country as many of our Canadian troops serving in Afghanistan returned to be buried back home. That number, from all over Canada, is less than that of the children buried at this one residential school, in one community. And these 215 children were not given full honours in death, like our soldiers. Although they were Baptized Christians they were not given decent Christian burials, or even had their names recorded. These kind of unmarked graves are more akin to the atrocities seen perpetrated on ‘the disappeared’ in other countries that are rightly investigated as war crimes or “crimes against humanity”. If we ask why our brothers and sisters can’t get past this, or ‘move on’, we should ask: If our great uncles or aunts or cousins went to a boarding school and were never heard from again, disappearing from our family history, would it matter how long ago it happened?  If our five year old child or grandchild were taken away by the RCMP to a school far away and forbidden to speak our language without being physically punished, how would we feel? And many of these cases didn’t happen that long ago. Though most residential schools closed in the 1970s, the last only did so in 1996.

We were not personally responsible, but our Churches were. We do not share a collective guilt, but as those who are called to take up the Cross of the One who took the sins of others (including us) upon Himself, we are called to a collective, or corporate (in the Body) responsibility from today onwards. Father Thomas Merton wrote of the difference between guilt and contrition:   Guilt only makes us ‘feel bad’, gives us shame; Contrition leads us to repentance and becoming new creatures in Christ.

How can we, here, respond? We can seek to better inform ourselves. We can join in prayer in our own Liturgy today and in other opportunities, such as ones offered by our National Church online. We have been praying regularly in our Liturgy for Archbishop Mark MacDonald. He offers much wisdom to us. All of this has hit our self-determining Indigenous Anglican Church at a time when it has already been devastated by frequent suicide epidemics and the greater suffering due to COVID 19 (11 indigenous clergy have already died from COVID).

Please continue to uphold Archbishop Mark and the Indigenous Church in your own prayers. Something he shared at the beginning of last week has stayed with me.

They were innocent children. Innocent baptized children, for this was a condition of their participation in the schools. Did this not make them part of the Church? Did Baptism, which was said to make them registered in the Book of Life, not make them worthy to be noted in the register of the church, worthy of note when they were buried? Could not the water that Christ made Holy in baptism make the blind eyes of the school officials see that the children were human – were holy?”

 

Recorded in the Baptismal Registers, but not in the Burial Registers.

A powerful parable.

Bishop Stephen Andrews (currently Principal at Wycliffe College, Toronto) had this to say:

“We are given names in our baptism, and we are told that the Good Shepherd “calls his own sheep by name” (John 10:3). How tragic, then, to learn of the discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children at a former Indian Residential School. The fact that this was a church-run school makes the discovery especially troubling, since the church has always taken great care in the burial of its dead. What are we to say in the face of evidence that human life has apparently been so carelessly discarded? And let us be clear. The evidence of such disregard goes beyond Kamloops. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 3,200 children who died at residential schools, and the Commission’s findings about administrators’ dereliction in returning bodies or even informing families is shocking. But of these 3,200 (and the Commission believed that the real number is much higher), one-third of them are not even named.”   (the full piece can be found online at https://www.wycliffecollege.ca/blog/sine-nomine or ask me for a printed copy)

Children, Christian children, simply ‘disposed’ of, instead of being lovingly laid to rest in their home communities.

Several of the Scriptures in the Daily Offices this past week have spoken to me about this national tragedy and shame. Of course, we began reading the Bible’s pre-eminent book on innocent suffering: Job.  But two passages from the Epistle of St James jumped out at me as I reflected on the words of Archbishop Mark and Bishop Andrews.

“So speak and so act as those to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgement is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.” And yet in the very next line we hear, “Mercy triumphs over judgement.” (James 2:12-13) Lord, have mercy upon us.

Again from St James: ”If a brother or sister is poorly clothed or lacking in daily food, and one of you says, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled’, without giving the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith, by itself, if it does not have works, is dead…For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” (James 2:15-17 & 26)

We need to live out our faith in love and mercy, as Christ loves us in His Divine Mercy. We need to remember that we are always, always, walking “under the mercy”.

Prayer Suggestions: 

  • Pray for our Indigenous communities and, especially, for those who have been impacted by the legacy of the residential schools – from generation to generation.
  • Pray for the victims of abuse and violence in all circumstances, especially remembering those who were injured or who died at the hands and neglect of others in these schools. You may want to use one of the prayers for the Holy Innocents:
    • O ALMIGHTY God, who out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast ordained strength, and madest infants to glorify thee by their deaths: Mortify and kill all vices in us, and so strengthen us by thy grace, that by the innocency of our lives, and constancy of our faith, even unto death, we may glorify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, page 111)
    • Almighty God, our heavenly Father, whose children suffered at the hands of Herod, receive, we pray, all innocent victims into the arms of your mercy. By your great might frustrate all evil designs and establish your reign of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen. (Book of Alternative Services, page 398)
  • Keep Archbishop Mark MacDonald (National Indigenous Archbishop), the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples and our brothers and sisters in the self-determining Indigenous Anglican Church in your prayers
  • Pray for those who are working to encourage reconciliation, to educate others and who grieve with and help bring healing to those in pain.

If anyone would be interested in speaking with me further about this or, if you would be interested in a study in fall of 2021 on this topic, please speak with or contact me.

Under the Mercy,

Fr. Gerry+

 

To learn more:

Online resources:

Video, “Doctrine of Discovery: Stolen lands, Strong Hearts”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQwkB1hn5E8   (We are working to see if we can make this available on DVD for those who would like to borrow it)

Website, Reconciliation Canada https://reconciliationcanada.ca/

Website, Legacy of Hope https://legacyofhope.ca/

Website, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation https://nctr.ca/

 

Online Sacred Circle, Sunday, June 6:  Those with online access may want to take part in a ZOOM Sacred Circle tonight at 8:00 pm (Atlantic) – where clergy and lay people meet with Archbishop Mark to put the Gospel at the centre of our focus for prayer and teaching.  Use this link to join that event:   https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82591609134

 

 

 

 

 

Become familiar with the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (online at https://ehprnh2mwo3.exactdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf or ask me for a printed copy)

 

Public Libraries:

The New Brunswick Public Libraries have a number of resources available including:

  • A knock on the door : the essential history of residential schools from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada / Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
  • Final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
  • Stolen children: truth and reconciliation. (DVD)
  • We carry each other’s memories (DVD)

Ask the librarians for more suggestions, including a number of personal recollections of life in the schools.

11 books to teach kids about residential schools

This is a link to an article on Today’s Parents which provides a very good list of eleven books to help to teach your children about the residential schools.   While I have not read all of them, the ones I have shared with my children and grandchildren have been excellent ways to start important conversations:  https://www.todaysparent.com/family/books/books-to-teach-kids-about-residential-schools/

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