Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom God favours!
Luke 2:14

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
All things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came into being.
What has come into being in him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God,
whose name was John.
He came as a witness to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He himself was not the light,
but he came to testify to the light.
The true light,
which enlightens everyone,
was coming into the world.

He was in the world,
and the world came into being through him;
yet the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
and his own people did not accept him.
But to all who received him,
who believed in his name,
he gave power to become children of God,
who were born,
not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man
but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us,
and we have seen his glory,
the glory as of a father's only son,
full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-14

For thus God loved the world,
so that he gave the only son,
so that everyone trusting in him,
might not destroy themselves,
but may have eternal live.
John 3:16
(as translated by my Greek class in 2004)

I came that they may have life,
and have it abundantly,
John 10:10b

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Work's Righteousness?

A few years ago I had a defining moment in my faith life. My daughter had been in the hospital with an appendicitis attack. I was told she needed surgery. I went to phone my parents to pray for her. In that moment I realized that I could not pray. It was not that I couldn’t say the words and mean them. It was that I honestly did not believe that God would answer me because I was so unworthy. I was not the person that God desired me to be. But I could phone Mom and Dad and have them pray because they were good people with strong faith and God would listen to them. I knew there was something wrong with this thinking but set it aside because I still had my daughter’s surgery with which to deal.

One day, shortly after, I was in the church on a Saturday, setting up something for the Sunday School’s participation in the Sunday worship. I don’t remember what I was thinking or doing exactly but I do remember getting this revelation. Yes, I was not the person I could be. And yes, I was not worthy. But it didn’t make a difference. God loves me. Nothing I did or didn’t do affected that love. God’s love was unconditional. God loved me!!!!!

It is amazing how much that revelation freed me. My faith life changed. It began to grow. About three months later I got the call to the priesthood. A call I would never have answered before that revelation.

Where am I going with this? I entered into a discussion and in that someone remarked that there was a danger, if the church focused so much social justice, of coming to believe or rely upon work’s righteousness. This was after I had said something about believing that the Incarnation was about redeeming the world, but that I believed social justice was very much a part of that redeeming. I mentioned that my call to social justice came out of my knowing God’s grace deep within my soul.

Does focusing on social justice bring one close to work’s righteousness? I don’t believe so. I don’t believe that my small efforts for social justice will earn my salvation. I already have my salvation. That is shown in the whole of the Incarnation. I don’t have to earn it.

“We do not presume to come to this thy table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: …”

It is so strange that this prayer that paralyzed me because of my focus on my unworthiness is the same prayer that has given me so much freedom. It is the prayer that reminds me of my freedom. All I did was remove my focus from my unworthiness - which places me in the centre of the prayer - to God's great mercies - which places God in the centre of the prayer. Now in response to that - I work, in God's name, with God's guidance, to try and bring that freedom to others. I don't work for my salvation. I work because of my salvation - huge difference.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Friday, December 14, 2007

ABC's Advent Letter

The Archbishop of Canterbury has finally released his Advent letter. (He's also released his Christmas letter.) I skimmed through it but that is all. No major changes that I can see in the brief skim-through. And nothing really about what the Southern Cone is doing.

It always amazes me how much of these things focus on TEC. I recognize that it is because of the election and consecration of Gene Robinson which has taken the issue into the episcopate and means that more people have to acknowledge it. But nothing is said about Canada. Not that I want us to have the hassles TEC is having. I'm quite happy quietly flying under the radar. But the present situation makes it appear more like a vendetta against TEC. Other provinces have also let it be known that they ordain homosexuals in relationships as well as do same-sex blessings. Not a boo is said to them.

In all honesty, as long as only TEC is targetted (and I really don't want other provinces targetted) I will not be able to accept that this isn't "politically driven" at the top. Not that I deny the firm convictions of the people on the ground. But why single out TEC as the issue when a number of other provinces are doing likewise - just not always openly? And why the silence from those other provinces on the matter?

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Parallel Chruch Structures/39th Province

I've been watching events in the States with interest. Events in San Joaquin have raised some thoughts and questions in my mind. And Bishops Harding and Harvey make these thoughts relavent to the Canadian Church as well.

When all this first came out, my immediate reaction was to uphold the decisions about diocese made at the Council of Nicea. Now I am really questioning that and San Joaquin and what has been revealed about its process have made me question even more.

From the sounds of it on the more liberal blogs, there was a lot of pain and fear and other harm done in the process in San Joaquin. I wondered - what if the resolution hadn't passed? What would life be like in that diocese for those who support full inclusion/want to stay in TEC. I think of marriages/relationships that have gone poisonous. Is it not better in the latter case for the partners to separate. Would it not be better in the former case for the Diocese of San Joaquin to separate from TEC with some sort of amicable (or at least as amicable as possible) agreement worked out between San Joaquin and TEC. In that agreement, there could be a continuing Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin in TEC. In this diocese would be those who share the values of TEC. People would have a choice as to which church they wanted to belong.

What is so wrong with having two provinces in the same area? We have been conditioned to rejecting this out of hand. But, we are not going to be serving the same people. I know that a question that comes up often is - there are different denominations in the same geographical area, why is that different from what is happening? And initially, I reacted negatively to that thought. But then I read about the pain in Forth Worth, in Pittsburgh, in San Joaquin on all sides of the issue. I read the different understandings about how our faith should be expressed and who should be excluded. I thought about talks that I have had with some of my colleagues in this diocese and how I have come to understand that it often comes down to our basic understanding of God and how God interacts with humans. In many cases, we are poles apart on that understanding. I wouldn't go so far as to say that we are two entirely different churches for we do share some things. But there are significant differences and I think we may need to express them in two separate entities.

In light of people moving across borders to the Southern Cone, I have revised my thinking. Which is the lesser of two "evils" - if one considers a 39th province an "evil" (and I need to note here that I am using a common expression. I do not even come to close to thinking that a 39th province or the people involved in "moving" to the Southern Cone are evil). The Southern Cone has a membership of some 20,000 people. With people from Canada and the US "moving" into that province, the indigenous membership will soon be outnumbered. Given the arrogance of humanity, and especially white North American humanity, I don't believe that this will be a healthy thing for the Southern Cone's indigenous membership. Would not the North Americans be better in a province of their own?

For those of us who support full inclusion. Would it not be better to have a Church (or province) that fully embraces that inclusion. I often wonder about my gay and lesbian friends and how they must feel that this debate is about them but does not include them. That they are being discussed but are not being included in the discussion or decision making in any real meaningful way. Would it not be healthier for there to be a structure that fully accepted all people without having to constantly be aware of the tensions.

Would not some sort of amicable agreement be a more healthy thing all around. I realize that this would have to involve a mutual acceptance to disagree on an international level. For one thing, some of the more extreme provinces would have to agree to accept both provinces rather than just the one which reflected their theology and I'm not sure that is possible. But then, I also don't believe that they are the majority either.

I know that transition would be chaotic and painful for all involved. But would it be any worse than what is happening now? And once we worked creatively to find a way to live together, maybe we could start focusing on some of the more important things such as our inner cities, poverty, etc. In the long run, I believe that is what Christ is calling us to do - rather than being bogged down in our differences as we are right now.

Acutally, I have thought further using an experience in my own life. The experience is not a parallel but it does offer some insight to my thoughts. A number of years ago we lived in a small town where the larger school district had decided to close down the local school. Many of us disagreed with the decision (and I still do). We fought the decision. We did the best we could with the structures in place and still the school was closed. Some of the older members of the community thought we should have fought harder. I disagree. I believe that had we carried it to the possible extremes it would have become a very unhealthy situation for our children and still that school would have closed. We did the best we could but ultimately we had to learn to live with the new arrangement. It was painful to see the school close and it was not easy to adjust to the new situation but we did. Maybe the resulting arrangements were not ideal but, being human, not much of what we accomplish is the ideal.

We have fought to maintain our current church structures in place. And maybe we have actually fought too hard. The reality is that we are no longer together. Is it not better to try to come to the best possible arrangements and to learn to live creatively within those? Is it not, in the long run, more healthy for all involved to say that we have tried our best but now it is time to look creatively at the future and do the best we can with what we have available - that we need to sit down and work out the best possible arrangements for all concerned given the reality that we are living.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

The Golden Compass

Last week S's boyfriend, Sc, asked me what I thought about the Golden Compass. I had seen the name on the net but I hadn't really paid any attention to it. When Sc asked me about my thoughts, I asked him what it was. He told me it was a movie. I asked what it was about and he gave me a very brief precis. Then J chimed in that I had given her the book a few years ago. I asked to read it and she informed me that she had given it to the library. I questioned why I would give her such a book. I think I bought it because it was of the genre she likes reading - sci-fi, fantasy fiction and it had a literary prize sticker on the front.

A few days later I got an e-mail about "The Golden Compass" which led me an article on Snopes. I started to question J about her impressions of the book. Shortly after I found posts on it on Simple Massing Priest and Thoughts in Progress. Then this morning Episcopal Cafe had a link to an article on Beliefnet, Spiritual Lessons from "The Golden Compass".

I still haven't read the book so I won't weigh in with any comments right now. I will probably read it during Christmas and New Year's when I have some time off. If I feel so inclined, I will add my two cents to what is out there. But I thought it might be interesting in the middle of such controversy to post a few links to the ongoing discussion.

I will say that generally when outcry happens about so-called anti-Christians books/films, I don't tend to boycott. I prefer to read the book/see the film myself and look at what it has to say to me. If there is hostility toward Christianity/organized religion I think we need to question why. What is the person's perception of Christianity/organized religion? Is it a valid perception? Is the negativity a valid concern?

If I believe the person has it wrong, I will speak to correct the misperception. But if I think they have a point, I will speak to how we can use that to help us grow in our faith. I am not for banning or boycotting because I think it offers us a chance to take a more critical look at ourselves. It helps us understand better why we do the things we do or believe the things we believe. It also can help us to change if we discover that we are doing or believing the wrong things.

I also think that these books/films offer wonderful chances for evangelism. The more controversy the better. It gets people talking and asking questions. This offers us the chance to speak about our faith and to correct misperceptions.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


There have been some conferences lately with people who had some interesting things to say. One of these was in England and another in the US. Below are listed some of the talks that have found on various blog sites.

From Inclusive Church:

When signs signify

Out of the Silence

Each of us was given grace

From Episcopal Cafe

Shaking the Foundations

I haven't had a chance to read all of these but have downloaded them for when I do have the time.

Love and Prayers,

Ann Mare

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Interview with Rowan Williams

Ann Fontaine of Episcopal Cafe has this "lead" about an interview in the Times Online.

"Mylie Veitch, 18, asked him his views on a gay friend of hers who is considering adopting with his partner.
Dr Williams said: “This is a big one. I have questions as to whether same sex couples can provide the same stability as ‘normal parents’. I have no answers really, just questions.

Many would argue that we need a balance of men and women to bring a child up. However, I have seen one fantastic example of same sex parenting first hand and I suppose stability is another key consideration.”

"Asked about his support for gay clergy, he replied: “I have no problem with gay clergy who aren’t in relationships, although there are savage arguments about the issue you might have heard about. Our jobs mean we have to adhere to the Bible, gay clergy who don’t act upon their sexual preferences do, clergy in practicing homosexual relationships don’t. This major question doesn’t have a quick fix solution and I imagine will be debated for many years to come."

I can think of a number of households where there is both male and female where it is not healthy for children. For me, the point is the relative health of the environment not whether it is male and female. I tend to think it is far better for there to be two parents but that is due to the fact that parenting is a lot easier if there are two of you. I once single parented for two months when my husband and I were living in different provinces. I learned the value of just having someone else around for support - and that's with being able to talk to my husband each night.

I think that a fair amount of pressure on same-sex families is a result of society's reaction to them. It's pretty hard for children do deal with their peers at the best of times. But that is not a fault of the parenting, rather, it is a fault of society's expectations.

My second year here a number of my people would say to me that same sex couples could live together but there was no way they should have children. They learned not to say it in my presence. I'm pretty easy going on the subject of same-sex relationships with my congregation. I realize I'm not going to get anywhere by pushing them. But I have seen far too many children in foster care where the parents have been heterosexual. For me, it is the health of the relationships and parenting. When I think of some of the households that children in foster care go home to because we believe it is best that children be with their natural parents and how many children end up cycling between their family of origin and foster care, I cringe. My understanding is that many same-sex families do well. I will take a safe, healthy, happy environment any day.

In the second quote I would not be disturbed had the words "sexual preferences" not been said. I can accept that manner of life would require that we be in healthy committed relationships (I don't necessarily mean marriage as I consider that a man-made institution-with the emphasis on "man". For me it is not whether the couple is married but whether the relationship is a committed healthy one. I have seen many relationships outside of marriage that are very much blessed by God if we use the criteria of looking at the fruits of the relationship. However, I accept that for the Church, marriage or celibacy is a requirement). Had Rowan said said something about relationships outside of marriage I would find a fair amount more validity in the statement. There is enough debate as to what the relevant passages really mean - especially since there was no concept of homosexuality in Biblical times. Plus the fact that I believe we have to look at passages outside of those which mention same-sex interaction in order to further understand the issue.

Of course, Rowan Williams is a much more learned man than me (considering I'm not a man at all so I guess I should really say that he is a much more learned person than me). But there are times when all the learning from books cannot compete with the experiences of the world around. My experience has taught me that God does bless those in same-sex relationships. It is this experience which leads to my bias when I read the Bible or other books. I will openly admit that. But, it is each persons experience and prior learnings that influence how each of us interprets the Bible or leads to our understandings gleaned from other readings. My experience has provided a start for how I understand the issue but that is reinforced the more I read the books out there - and only a small amount of them deal exclusively with the same-sex issue although the majority of them do deal with human sexuality.

I guess where I stand is that the Bible reflects the culture of its time and can only speak to the limit of the understandings of the time. Witness the texts referring to slavery, the place of women, and even the understanding of creation, especially in regard to the relationship between the earth and the rest of the cosmos. There is deep richness in the Bible, speaking to God's relationship with all that God created. But God cannot be contained by human words and understandings which are limited. Even Jesus told his disciples that things would be revealed to them in time. So as our ability and understanding grow things are further revealed to us. Our struggles to understand human sexuality falls into this category. To even imagine that we can know, without question, all there is to know about God and God's desires for God's creation is place pretty close to creating God in our own image. To narrow what is to be understood to a few texts without looking at the whole is to do a serious disservice to the wonderful book that is the centre of our faith.

I respect that Rowan Williams has the understandings he does. I'm not going to criticize those understandings as he certainly has a right to them and I can't expect them to mirror mine when we are such two different people with different experiences of the world and different world views. However, I do reserve the right to disagree with what he has to say - which I have done because this is my blog.

(Updated: December 12 - Grandmere Mimi has a link to an article in Wales about the interview. She points out that the section on gay clergy is not there. She got the tip from Ann, who is linked above.)

(Updated: December 12 - afternoon - a commentor at Grandmere Mimi's left a link to the actual printed interview.)

Love and Prayers,

Ann Marie

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas Reflection

(The following is the reflection I put in the local paper for the special Christmas section.)

I set up my nativity scene on Saturday. Well, “set up” might be pushing it. I try to be somewhat accurate when I put it out. Baby Jesus gets put in a drawer until Christmas Eve. The wise men are placed somewhere at a distance and will be brought into the scene on Epiphany. Mary, Joseph, and the donkey have a distance to travel as well and will probably arrive the Sunday before Christmas. The shepherds are in the field watching their sheep totally unaware that come Christmas Eve, just before we go to bed, they will make the journey to the stable. I look at my nativity scene. It seems pretty bare with only one little ox lying on the base.

Sometimes our world can seem like that. We read the newspaper and watch the television and we wonder if there is hope for our world. We rush around preparing for Christmas and sometimes, amidst the hustle and bustle of the crowds we can feel pretty lonely. We look at what has to be done for Christmas Day and wonder if we will ever be ready.

Yet, on December 24, as we gather as community and sing our songs, share our meal, and remember about the special birth, there is a feeling of expectation and hope. In the quietness of the night, as we sing Silent Night by candlelight, we are aware of something momentous happening.

Those of us who have held new born babies may understand the feeling. As we gaze into the eyes of the tiny infant, time seems to stand still. Regardless of all that has gone before, regardless of how tomorrow will turn out, for that one instance the world, the future is full of promise and possibilities. We gaze into the infant’s face and our hearts open up in prayer, yearning for all that is good for this child. We pray that he/she may grow up in a world free of strife and full of hope and good things.

Each Christmas Eve, as we join our families in singing in the soft light of the candles in the darkness, we look to a world full of promise and possibilities. For this brief instance in time we understand what it is that God desires for God’s creation. We open our hearts and our minds to the timeless memory of God’s vision brought into our world in the birth of the tiny baby two thousands years ago. It was an event that began a life that transformed the lives of many, bringing to reality the promise and possibility of which most births offer a glimpse. In that moment, past and future come together in the present and we celebrate life.

Come Christmas morning, my one lonely little ox will be in the midst of a busy scene with Mary, Joseph, a donkey, some sheep and a shepherd, and a tiny baby. His lonely and bleak world will be transformed into one of extended family and celebration. Sometime, in the dark hours of the cold and lonely night something wonderful has happened and the future begins anew with promise and possibility.

Love and Prayers,
Wishing you and your loved ones a joyous Christmas and a New Year bright with hope and promise,
Ann Marie


It's been a great couple of days. I've been feeling exhausted for awhile. But yesterday Integrity met. It's such a warm group of people. I celebrated the eucharist with close to my old energy. This is one area of my ministry I refuse to give up. I find it so life-giving. It is the part of ministry that I do for myself - where I am nurtured and cared for (and I realize that as chaplain it should probably be the other way around but I believe that membership and involvement in this group is God's gift to me to help me keep on a more even keel spiritually).

And tonight. What can I say. St. Paul's played host to the ministerial Taize service. This was our first and I wasn't sure how well it would go over. We provided the space and I provided the candles (Candles are my huge weakness. I have oodles and oodles of candles.) Our focus was a meditation on the cross. I never thought to set things out last week and just see how things looked. So tonight I set out the candles and took the cross from the reardos and placed it in the centre of the altar. Oops. Brass crosses do not show up very well when there isn't a solid background for them. What to do? I grabbed the Celtic cross from the meditation area. We could see it but it was so small on the altar. I sat through the practice trying to figure out a way to have a cross as more of a focal point.

Ask and ye shall receive. We have a wooden processional cross. It is a somewhat rough looking thing but it is painted with a gold coloured paint around the edges. My colleague and I managed to figure out a way of holding it in place right behind the altar. I lit the candles and the gold paint picked up the light. We had our focal point. One less worry for the night.

I wasn't sure how my people would respond to the service. This morning it didn't seem like many of them planned on attending. During announcements I told them that was not something that we wanted added to their list of things to do. Rather this was a gift from us (ministerial) to them. A chance for them to come and sit quietly in a break from the business of the season. A number of them showed up for the service. I think, from the comments, that they were very happy they did. Comments from others as they left have shown us the need for more such services so we will probably plan one for Lent.

It was so awesome. I sat at the back of the church looking up to the front with all the candles glowing. I listened to the people singing. We ended the service with a Gloria. It was so powerful. I have come home feeling energized whereas earlier today I was wondering how I would ever make it through the week.

These last few days, I have been truly blessed with communities that have helped heal me physically, mentally, and spiritually. I have been in such need of this healing. I give thanks to God for the wonderful people that I have been so blessed to know and work with and worship with. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Friday, November 30, 2007

Naming "evil"?

Being somewhat housebound today, I wandered through blogsphere, even checking on some sites that I normally avoid due to concern about my blood pressure. I should really know better. I can actually get through most of the comments on these blogs without major risk but suddenly there is one that makes me hot under the collar and puts me in the danger area. As I have mentioned before, to get hot under the collar in the middle of winter in the frozen north takes some doing.

So what has me all het up today? I wandered through a post on the Archbishop of Canterbury preaching and presiding at a service with/for gay and lesbian priests. The comments were pretty much what could be expected. I would shake my head in disagreement but no rise in blood pressure. And then one jumped out at me. It was one hoping that various people were just misled – that they were being foolish as opposed to evil.

Now I should know better. I really should. There were link lines under evil and foolish and, foolish me, I clicked on them. Well, the evil one led to a certain blog site of a well-known “liberal” priest and the foolish one led to a blog site of another well-known “liberal” priest.

I am not even going into the wrongs of these particular links. I will however speak to the wrong of the naming of a person as evil. Has the commenter ever truly met evil? I believe if he had he would be a lot more cautious about who/what he names as evil.

I had an experience a few years ago where I was frequently encountering evil centered around one person. I do not call the person evil but rather acknowledge that somehow evil was present with this person. Even having an encounter with this person time and time again, I still would not name the person as evil.

Part of it is that I believe that we are all children of God and I believe that, being created in the image of God, we all have a “spark” of the divine within us. To claim that a person is evil would be to say that there is no element of God in that person. I cannot and will not believe that evil is strong enough to wipe out completely the presence of God. So regardless of the actions of a person and how they manifest evil, I will not call a person evil.

It is interesting that frequently when I am being assaulted spiritually, in unrelated circumstances, this one person with whom I sense the presence of evil, will start appearing in my life again. Note, that I am still not saying that this person is evil only that evil is present when this person is – that somehow evil is around this person.

I have a wise and knowledgeable friend who also has had some experience with sensing evil. He describes it as a sort of energy. That is how I see it, as an energy that is present with this person I keep encountering – almost an aura if you wanted to be sort of new age about it.

With these experiences in mind, I would caution this other poster (if I thought it would do any good) to be careful about the word evil being applied to people. Part of this is from my own experience of evil. The other part is looking at the healing of demons in the gospels. The demons are not the people healed but something separate from the people. The demons influence various behaviours but as soon as they are exorcized the person is on the way to becoming who they are meant to be. I think of the demons entering into the swine and jumping off the cliff. The action is separate from the swine themselves, influenced by the presence with them. I look at the people in the texts in which the demons call out to Jesus. In all these instances the evil is separate from the person themselves.

So I urge that we take caution not to call people evil, not to demonize the “other”. We may disagree with beliefs or actions in any area of the spectrum but we should be cautious about personalizing it with the people holding those beliefs or doing those actions being named as “evil”. Once we dehumanize people in our minds by applying such titles as “evil” it is easier to forget that God also loves these people and desires goodness and health for them. And eventually, that can lead to us doing even more harm than we believe the original person did. It’s a slippery slope that can lead us into doing “evil” ourselves.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Alternative Christmas Market

My fingers are too cold up here in the frozen north to do much typing. The temperature may only be in the -20 range but with the wind chill factor we are actually more in the -30 range. Add being on the open prairies to the mix (not a lot of trees or buildings) and it is not the greatest weather. Of course, just to make my life more interesting, my car is not working so I have to walk wherever I go. Good weather to stay indoors and get caught up on some administrative work. (Except for wandering a couple of blocks to coffee row in a few minutes to get warmed up on the current events and gossip.)

I was visiting Susan Russell's site and came across this Alternative Christmas Market. What a fantastic idea. I'm e-mailing a link to our local diocesan outreach committe as an idea for a future Christmas project.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Who hoo

Riders won!!!!!!!!!!!!

What more can I say

Canadian Responses

Primate and Metropolitans

(Update on Friday, November 30
Response to Canadian statement from the Southern Cone)

(Update on Saturday, December 1
Letters of support for the Network [tip of the hat to Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans])

From Michael Ingham

From Victoria Matthews

Ann Marie's

This morning M brought me a news clipping from the Star Phoenix. It is about what is happening in the wider church. It is about the schism that is occuring. First of all, we need to realize that no one person or group is totally blame. The article tries to blame the "liberals" which we know would include me. However, to me, as I've mentioned before, those calling me liberal are actually radically liberal.

What we need to remember is that regardless of what happens, this changes nothing for St. Paul's. We will continue to meet as Anglicans, as members of this diocese, and as members of the Anglican Church of Canada. We will continue to worship each Sunday and we will continue our mission in the larger community. For us, nothing changes.

Our new Primate, Fred Hiltz, has said that he will issue a pastoral response sometime this week to be read next Sunday. I will get this and read it to you then. In the meantime, if there are questions or you hear anything that troubles you, please do not hestitate to call me. Although I have not been bringing this to your attention over the last number of years, partly because it does not affect what we do here and it's one added tension I did not believe we needed to deal with (and if I chose wrongly then I apologize), I have done my best to keep up with it. I won't be blaming anyone but I will try to help you understand what is going on.

(At least that is the gist of what I said to my congregation this morning.)

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

And now the finger pointing (Updated)

I don't get the local paper. I keep up by watching the news on TV and listening to coffee row. A parishoner told me there was an article in the city paper about the schism. Most of my people are trying to figure out how you pronounce the word let alone being worried about it. I asked to see the article and the parishoner brought it to church this morning.

I just glanced at it before the service. I didn't get into what the whole thing said. At first glance what struck me was the fact that people like me are to solely to blame - the horrible liberals. I'm not "liberal". My theology prof informed me (and I take great pride in this) that I never made it through the Reformation theologically. My theology stops at the time leading up to the Reformation. So to me, the people accusing me of being liberal and to blame for the current schism are the radical liberals.

I'm not going to point a finger and point to the more extreme conservatives and say that they are to blame. I was brought up to understand that there is more than one side to any issue and that we all contribute to conflict and crisis. But I deeply resent being held solely (as part of a group) responsible for the present situation and the judgemental language that surrounds the blame. I apologize, I don't have an on-line subscription to be able to access the article but I am going to look at what it says.

The first exciting thing this article has to say is that the Anglican Church of Canada has been poisonsed by liberalism and is the real cause of schism now underway. Pretty strong wording if you ask me. Nothing like demonizing the "other". I usually find that when such hyperbole is being used there is shaky ground underneath.

"Those who are unfaithful to the heritage are the schismatics. It is not we who are the schismatics." At least if you are going to act on your convictions, have the courage to do so. Don't hide behind posturing and words. Who is taking the action of separating from the rest of the Anglican Church of Canada - which, by the way, is still very much a part of the World Wide Anglican Communion. I'm not saying that they are wrong in their doing so. I happen to believe they are but I acknowledge that they see no other options and I can respect them acting on what they hold to be true doctrine. But I don't respect them for casting full blame on the "other" with a total disregard to the fact that we hold equally strongly to our convictions and sincerely believe that we are being true to our heritage.

"the Anglican Church of Canada has been poisoned by a liberal theology that 'knows nothing of a God who uses (the Bible) to tell us things and knows nothing of sin in the heart and in the head." I beg your pardon. That's pretty judgemental. I may not agree with how this person understands the Bible and sin but I would never say that they know nothing about God or sin. We may understand and interpret differently but to say one of us knows nothing ... that's not facing reality. At times I get so frustrated at my lack of ability to use language. I think and write in pictures and words often fail the visions I have in my head. I'm sruggling to put into the words the picture I have of the hand flick that totally discounts anything one doesn't want to acknowledge or think about - that sort of "whatever" attitude that does not engage seriously with the conversation. The sort of - what you say can have no worth because you are wrong and I am right so that anything you have to say doesn't not need to be heard and certainly has no validity- attitude, the brushing off of me (and those who share my beliefs) as of no account, no value, as of little worth as a fellow child of God.

If I had no knowledge of sin, I would not have such a strong sense of God's grace. That sense of God's grace comes through my reading of the Bible and through my own personal experience of God.

" ... the Anglican Church of Canada is being ruined by its attempts to 'play catch-up with the culture' by adpoting whatever 'is the in-thing.'" I think that what frustrates me the most about this statement is that it totally negates the years of study and meditation that I did when I came to support full inclusion. At first I didn't support it. Gradually, as I looked at the scriptures and meditated on what I had read and learned, I came to understand that God was calling us to continue to grow in our understanding of God's work in creation. Certainly if I was following the prevalent attitude of the society around me, I would continue to be against full-inclusion. I just had a discussion with one of my of my parishoners on the very issue last night well aware that I am a distinct minority in this particular community and within this diocese. I'm not adopting a whatever "is the in-thing" attitude. I'm very much bucking the in-thing around here. After all my years of studying, I find I cannot go back and embrace what is the "in-thing" in this community.

Considering all the flack those who support full-inclusion are getting from many different sources - the demonizing, the discounting, the threats of loss - of salvation, of connection, of communion - this has to be more than just going with the flow. It is certainly a hard road that we are travelling going against what many in our common faith hold to be true. We have to have the courage of our convictions, and that courage does not come by taking the scriptures or our faith lightly.

(The quotes in bold were from the article "Anglican Church divided over liberal theology" found in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix on Friday, November 23, 2007. It was written by Charles Lewis of CanWest News Service. (It probably also appears in the National Post as that is in brackets and italics at the bottom of the article.) The theologian quoted is J.I. Packer.)

(Update: I have now found a link . The article in the Star Phoenix only went as far as "Officlas said Thursday a new North American Anglican province, which would include Canadian and American parishes, is now being discussed. It did not include anything about Michael Ingham.)

I disagree with a number of the priests in this diocese on the issue of full-inclusion (but certainly not all as I am definitely not alone in my understanding), but at no time do I discount what they have to say or demonize them or their beliefs. I accept that there are different experiences, different teachings, different understandings of things as basic as our image of God, lying between. I do not discount or flick my hand at what they have to say. I listen seriously to their concerns and I do consider their conversations when I reflect on the scriptures and meditate on full-inclusion. I continue to disagree with them, but I don't blame them for what is happening.

I think that schism is enevitable because our very basic understandings cannot be reconciled. Maybe schism is life-giving for all of us, I don't know. I respect them for sticking to their convictions and holding on to their integrity. I am sorry that we cannot continue our journey together because I think we each hold a key to the mystery of God. But I cannot respect or accept the blame that is being placed on those like me. I cannot respect or accept the discounting of something I firmly and sincerely have come to hold true. I cannot respect or accept the continuous accusations of secularism and heresy and non-biblical teachings when I know that what I hold to be true has come from scripture and from prayer and meditation whose source is the very God they claim I do not acknowledge. At the base of everything I hold to be true is the source of all life, the source of all that is, the source of all that I am and all that I will come to be as I grow further into the knowledge and love of that source - what we, as Christians, call God.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Reign of Christ - Darkness and Light

I am struggling this week with the contrast of darkness and light. I am trying to get my sermon done for Sunday. I have read the lessons and picked out key words. I looked at the Benedictus – the canticle in place of the psalm and see that:

“1:78 By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us,
1:79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."”

I looked at Colossians and read:

“1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.
1:13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son,”

Until recently I have really valued the contrast of darkness and light. Because I have been so prone to depression, light has very real meaning. There is another level spiritually. I would lie in bed at night trying to get to sleep (I’m definitely not one of those who falls asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow – I could still be awake 3 or 4 hours later.) There would be this black pit open up before me. I would be terrified, something waited for me in that pit and I was afraid of it. To escape falling into the pit, I would envision Christ – starting out as a pinpoint of light and growing until the light covered the darkness.

I shared this with my CPE group a few years ago. It was suggested at the time that I go into the darkness and see if it was there to teach me something. At the time I was too afraid. Lately, I have been praying, with caution, for the opportunity. And if it happens and I go into it, it will be with prayer.

But why the change? Darkness and light rather than darkness versus light. Before only bad was in the darkness – only bad could be in the darkness. Witness the above quotes from the scriptures for this Sunday.

Two things have changed me. I read, a few years ago, an Advent litany on darkness. It paired the down side of darkness with an up side. I began to look at darkness as something to be embraced – in the right circumstances. The nurturing element. How we need the darkness for rest. Plants not only need light to grow, they also need the absence of light – darkness – to grow. In our mother’s womb we are in the dark and being nurtured. There were a number of other postives about darkness but the nurturing ones stand out the most. So darkness, rather than something to be avoided, is to be embraced in its life giving form.

I have also, as mentioned before, being doing some feminist studies on my own. I feel a real pull in this direction. I have been reading Carol P. Christ’s “Re-birth of the Goddess”. In it she explores the transition from a more equal society to the patriarchal societies that influence the writings in the Bible. She speaks of worship being in caves, the womb of the mother, – in the darkness. At first, I kept thinking how frightened I would be. I’m claustrophobic as well as having a deep rooted fear of the dark. As read and thought more, I began to embrace this womb/cave idea more.

One of the most powerful services for me spiritually is the Easter Vigil as we did it at Emmanuel and St. Chad’s. We would start in Rugby Chapel. The windows had all been blacked out. We would light the new fire and do the readings by candles which had been lit from that fire. We would then move from there into the full light of St. Chad’s chapel. I realize we could look at this as a move from darkness (to be avoided) into light (the desired place) except that in the darkness as we read, I felt nurtured with the life force flowing through me. It wasn’t a move from darkness to light but a move from one life-giving space to another.

What do I think about my fear of the dark now? I’m am still dealing with a deep-rooted fear of the dark. But sometimes I wonder if this is not a fear of the feminine – of fully embracing my femininity. Strangely enough, my fear of the dark lessens the more I celebrate being a woman. Traditionally the light has been associated with the male – something to be greatly desired – and the dark with the female – something to be avoided.

I look back to those moments when I would struggle to get to sleep and see that black pit. It happened at a time that I was struggling with my identity. When I answered the call to the priesthood, I began to embrace the female within me. Since that time, I haven’t experienced the sense of the black pit. Could it be that all the time I was being called to embrace myself as female? Could it be that the pit, that I actually now yearn to experience, is no longer because I have embraced myself as female?

This business of darkness versus light, which appears in our lessons for Sunday, leaves me struggling. I understand and embrace the concepts of moving from that darkness of oppression and death into the light of freedom and life. But, I am also aware that darkness is life giving and freeing and that light can be life-denying and oppressing. So as I prepare my sermon, I am trying to find a balance of darkness and light rather than a skewed vision of darkness versus light.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I highly recommend the blog – Desert’s Child. Not only is Katie Sherrod a very articulate writer, she gives us a view of what is going on in Fort Worth. My heart and prayers go out to all those in the Diocese of Fort Worth who are experiencing what Katie is.

I’m not often moved to get heated up about comments on other blogs but let’s face it, my current studies have definitely been in the feminist area and I am getting a little hot under the collar (not a real easy thing in Saskatchewan in winter) about those who believe women should not be priests based on the writings and understanding of men who haven’t got a foggy clue about the reality of what the feminine is. Many of our church fathers based their objections on the Plato’s understanding which is so full of misconceptions as to be almost funny. I would laugh except people take it all so seriously and then that does far too much harm in restricting women.

I was at a men’s breakfast last weekend. It was an interesting time and the men I work with to put on the breakfast (which was a tradition before I arrived) are wonderful. There a few that I work with on other things and we have developed mutual respect for each other. It was interesting talking with one of the pastors that I don’t usually work with. He’s from a denomination that does have female pastors (including some senior pastors – he tells me) but it is far from common. This pastor is a wonderful person and he was trying to be supportive of me and I really appreciate that. Fortunately, I was in a good mood so I didn’t take exception to the words he used which could have been heard as patronizing. I realize his intent and I thank him for it.

A few years ago, I attended a two day workshop on church development at one of the big evangelical churches in the city. It is not a tradition that accepts the ordination of women – although I do believe it is coming. Fortunately, the first day I was at a table with a ELCIC pastor who was able make sure that I was included and listened to (although, I often don’t have a problem especially when my back is up). The next day I was at a different table. Not quite as easy being accepted as an equal. I later found out that even the workshop facilitator had a few problems with my presence as it meant he had to revamp some of what he was saying (I was the only female, let alone the only ordained female. My registration application must have really thrown them for a loop. I'm not too sure what he modified either.). It wasn’t even that this workshop was only for those ordained. It was also for church elders – and none were women. I will give credit where credit is due though and say that in general they did treat me with respect and acceptance. I could see their struggles to do so and I really appreciated their attempt.

Over all, in spite of the good will and acceptance involved, it marks us. Even in these two situations where the men were honestly trying to be supportive, I was aware of that there were tensions and struggles within the men over my being an ordained women. I love them dearly for taking on those tensions and struggles, but there will not be full acceptance or equality until our interactions are not marked by them.

What does all this have to do with the opening paragraph? It was on Desert’s Child that I read the following response.

Corie from H-E-B said...
“Okay... So, here's something to think about, seeing as how the Catholic Church also does not ordain women to the priesthood (or the diaconate for that matter, which at least Bp Iker allows that). The priest represents Christ as the bridegroom of the Church. The Church is female, and so the bridegroom (Christ) is always represented by a male. It's not because the guys are better than us, but simply because the spouse of the Bride of Christ (the Church) is male. This is why Jesus was born in a male body, and not a female body. And yes, the Catholic Church teaches that the spouse of a female must be a male. I personally think that is a beautiful thing that is represented by a male priesthood that could never really make sense if the priest was a woman.”

Okay there are days that I just shake my head and cannot honestly think of a reply. Or I can think of so many that I just don’t know where to start and my words become a jumble.

First of all, it's a metaphor or analogy or whatever. It points to something - the relationship of the church to Jesus, using the example of marriage. It does not say that the relationship is completely like a marriage. There are elements of it that are like a marriage. It is not male to female that it is like but like the relationship of wife to husband.

Which brings me to the second point. It is about an understanding of marriage as marriage was at the time it was written -- a patriarchal marriage. The comparison would fall completely apart if one considered a marriage such as my husband and I have - a partnership - rather than one where the wife is subservient to her husband.

“And if you don't think it is fair, then remember that what God, our heavenly Father, considers right and proper just sometimes doesn't seem fair to His children. We don't always see the big picture, and it's not our place to change His rules.”

Whose flippin’ rules are these – God’s or man’s? I would venture a guess that they are entirely man’s when it comes to anything to do with women. Paul, for all that people like to misquote him does not appear (when looked at without major blinkers) to have a problem working with women or even naming women as apostles. EG Junia. Of course men had a problem and changed her name to Junius and then claimed she was a man.

By the way. I have absolutely no problem with changing men’s rules.

“But in the same vein, a church that decides a female can represent the bridegroom of the Church is always just a short step from allowing same-sex marriages. I'm not real surprised the Episcopal Church headed in that direction, and I think it is a shame.”

All I can respond (with the exception of the last phrase) is – YES!!!!!!!!

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Friday, November 09, 2007

Remembrance Day, 2007

It's been awhile since I've had time to write anything. A number of things have happened but I'm not touching those right now. I need to be more at peace within myself. But today I made my annual trip up to the First Nations school north of me. It is a K-12 school. I get asked back because, for some reason (and I think it has to do with the Spirit answering my frantic prayer) the children will sit still to listen to me. I try not to sermonize but to tell stories that teach. I am very conscious that I am white and that I represent an institution that has done great harm to the First Nations people and their culture. So although I try to find touchstones within their culture, I do not try to pretend to know their culture or to be anything but who I am.

I found this resource on the web: United for Peace; from the United Church of Canada. On page 20 of the resource for the all ages worship service there is a story called The Egg. I thought it had a good message but felt it was to old for the children to whom I was talking. So, with Shawn's help, I used the basic idea as well as some points of the story and came up with the talk that follows. I painted a special egg last night for the telling of this story. This is not word for word as I did not have a script. This is from my somewhat faulty memory of the morning.

First of all I want to thank Mrs. S for inviting me to talk here again. This is the third year that I have been here. When I went to college to study to become a priest we had a saying that once something happened three times, it was a tradition. So, coming here to share in your Remembrance Day service has become part of my tradition and a part I value very much.

You may note that as a priest, today, I am not wearing a cross. I am wearing a watch (I held out the watch on a chain around my neck. This watch was my Grandma's. My grandfather gave it to her in 1927. It was passed on to me because I was given her name. I will pass it on to my daughter because she also shares my grandmother's name. It is going to be part of our traditions.

Years ago, many cultures passed on their traditions through stories. They would gather together and share stories about their past. We've kind of lost that today with TVs and computers. But I would like you all to imagine gathering with my family around a fire on a nice warm evening and listening as I tell I story.

Once there was a Mother Canada Goose and a Father Canada Goose. And they laid a very special egg. There was nothing special about the Mother and the Father Canada Goose. They were ordinary parents, like me, like your teachers, like your parents. But the Creator who made us knows that in ordinariness there is something special in each one of us. The Creator knows that each of us can do some special things. So the Creator gave Mother and Father Canada Goose a special task. They were given a very special egg.

Now this was not an egg like those of other Canada Geese. No, these egg had many colours. It was white and black and red and yellow. These are special colours because they are the colours of the all the races of the earth. They are also the colours of nature. And they are the colours of the Medicine wheel where there is inter-relationship and peace. So the egg had some very important colours to mark it as special. It also had the word, "peace" written on it.

Mother and Father Canada Goose saw that their egg was special and they were determined to do the best they could for their egg. Unfortunately, something bad happened to the marsh where the egg was laid and Mother and Father Goose had to leave. Some nice spiders wove a web that Mother and Father Goose could push their egg on and carry it as they flew to find a new place to nurture and hatch "Peace".

So Mother and Father Canada Goose flew, looking for a safe place to raise "Peace." After awhile they flew over a military base like Dundurn or Wainwright. This camp was in the middle of war exercises. Mother and Father Canada Goose did not think that this looked like a very good or safe place to raise "Peace". So on they flew, looking for a safe and secure place for "Peace".

After awhile they flew over a green park in the middle of the city. They thought that this looked like a good place to look after "Peace." But as they got closer they noticed that there were insecticides and pesticides and they thought that these were pretty dangerous for their egg. So on they flew.

They had been flying for quite awhile and the web was getting weak. Soon it began to fall apart. Mother and Father Canada Goose had to land the middle of a town. This was a town just like this one, just like where I come from and just like the town where my husband and children live. An ordinary town. They landed in a playground full of children.

Mother and Father Canada Goose had nothing to make a nest. They had just landed in the park and hadn't had time to gather anything to make a nest for "Peace." And "Peace" was about to hatch. A little girl noticed Mother and Father Canada Goose. She had been having a fight with her best friend over something or other but saw the geese land. She stopped fighting and noticed that the geese needed help. She picked up a twig and brought it over to them. Her best friend saw what she was doing and stopped being mad and gathered some soft grass and brought it over to the geese.

One by one, the children in the play ground stopped what they were doing and gathered twigs and grass for the geese to make a nest. They saw that "Peace" was a very special egg and wanted to help. Even when "Peace" hatched they continued to help Mother and Father Canada Goose to look after "Peace." Soon they were so busy helping raise "Peace" that they forgot about fighting and bullying.

After awhile, their parents noticed the change in the children. They saw what the children were doing and they stopped yelling at their children, at each other and at their neighbours and helped the children care for "Peace." And then the governments noticed the difference in the parents and they started to take care of "Peace."

It's a story. And it may seem farfetched but I believe it can happen. That if we all work together, we can have peace.

This Sunday, on November 11, at 11:00, we will gather to honour those people who gave so much for us in the World Wars. We haven't done well in our honouring of them. My generation has not worked very hard at caring for peace. We can see this with Afghanistan and Iraq. We have failed to honour the sacrifice of the soldiers. We have failed to create a tradition of peace.

My faith tradition has a line which states that "a little child shall lead them." With my generation having failed to bring about peace, it is now up to you, as the children of this world, like the children in my story, to help lead us into a tradition of peace. The men and women who fought in the wars are the warriors on the outside of the circle protecting us so that we can do the important work of creating that tradition of peace.

On Sunday, when we have that minute of silence let us give thanks to those men and women - those who died in the war, those who have died since, and all those who sacrificed physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have talked to a number of vetrens who speak of their struggles to make sense of the wars - to make sense of what happened, of what they saw and they did. Let us honour those people and give meaning to their sacrifice for us by saying thank you and by finding ways that we can care for "Peace" and by working to bring about the world for
which they fought so bravely.

Thank you.

I have for years struggled with the minute of silence on Remembrance Day. My father's oldest brother died night flying over Britain. According to Dad, Uncle Norman was the brother who had it all - the good looks, the smarts, the athletic ability, the personality. I figure that this is largely a younger brother hero-worshipping his older brother because I believe my dad is pretty special. I will never know for sure because I never had the chance to know my unlce - he died 15-20 years before I was born - a gifted man whose life was cut short. So in the minute of silence I pay tribute to my uncle and, through that, to all the men and women who fought in the wars.

In the '90's I watched a documentary series put together by the War Amps. Ever since then I have understood that we truly honour those men and women when we work to ensure that no one has to go to war again. Their theme song was never again. You can access it here. Since that time I have added to my thoughts during the minute of silence. I no longer struggle to keep focused. I am now focused on the thoughts of how I can honour the men and women by working to ensure that the negatives they experienced are not expereinced in the future. For me, working to nurture peace is a better way of saying thank than to spend just one minute a year saying thank you.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Protest in Myanmar

Life is extremely hectic right now. My to do list is a mile long. As a result, I really don't have time to blog. But this came through my e-mail from Amnesty International and I think it is very important. They ask that I send the message on but I make it a practice never to give out other peoples' e-mails unless I have their express permission. I figure I can use this blog as a way of at least getting the message out there.

Myanmar: Protect Buddhist Monks and Peaceful Protesters

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lutheran Bishops for Anglican Dioceses

For those of us who went to Emmanuel while Jim was lecturing at LTS, here is an article on the national website.

Lutheran bishops for Anglican Dioceses

At the beginning of my ministry out here (which is also the beginning of my ordained ministry), Jim was interim for the local Lutheran church. It was a real blessing for me as I struggled to get through that first year with as few mistakes as possible. Being in the same diocese, I run into Jim frequently. I continue to be blessed by his support.

I also very much enjoy Cindy and have had her out here to preach. She spoke at our joint celebration of 30 years of women in the priesthood and the anniversary of the Waterloo Declaration.

At one point, the Anglican and Lutheran congregations here talked about sharing ministry. It didn't go through but it is still a possibility for the future. We still share worship on the 3rd Sunday of the month. The Presbyterians have also joined us in that worship. I am learning a fair amount - especially how not to get in a panic over not being familiar with everything - having all my i's dotted and my t's crossed before I go out to participate in the worship. The Lutheran pastor who is here now is quite laid back about the whole thing so I am also learning to function without always wearing my vestments. I haven't quite got the knack of drinking coffee while giving the sermon although I have learned to talk without a script. I'm not saying I always do it well, but I am learning.

Our hardest adjustment came in the first year. Easter fell on the third Sunday which opened the question of where do we celebrate Easter. I brought it to vestry. We agreed that we should continue the pattern of third Sunday worship. It was interesting celebrating in another tradition. We were somewhat disconnected by the differences but it was a good experience.

We worship in each other's churches. January, February, and March we worship at the Lutheran Church. April, May, and June we worship at the Presbyterian church. These are just one Sunday a month. And then the whole of July we worship at the Anglican Church and the whole of August we worship at the Lutheran Church. September, October, and November we worship together once a month at the Anglican Church. The Lutheran and Anglicans share the Lenten and Holy Week services. There are a couple of these latter services that are also ecumenical such as the Tenebrae (which is usually hosted by the Roman Catholics) and the Easter Sunrise service (which rotates between the participating services). The Anglicans and Lutherans co-sponsor Monday School which has developed into a community church school.

I've developed a system. If you drive by the church and see a red sign you know the service is at the Lutheran Church. If you drive by and see an orange sign you know the service is at the Presbyterian Church.

I usually try to do something a little different at each of the Anglican services. Last week we had the blessing of the school children. We used praise music that I've taught the children at Monday School. The children came up to lead the songs that had actions. We said special prayers. Then I had the children come into the middle of the congregation. We all laid hands on their backpacks (I had them bring their back packs to church) and we blessed the backpacks and the children wearing them. One young boy went back to his mom and said, "Mom, God is glowing in my backpack." It was a high energy service and somewhat chaotic but I came home feeling energized.

But a little more on topic. I firmly believe that if the Anglican Church wants to continue in rural Saskatchewan we are going to have to look at shared ministries. Our PAL (Presbyterian, Anglican, and Lutheran) group is struggling within their individual communities. It is astounding the amount of energy that is present when the three join together. The singing is awesome. The chatter and laughter before the service is life-giving. On top of that we are learning to accept other traditions and to value the communities to which those traditions belong. It's not always easy as shown by the joint worship that first Easter. We are so strongly nurtured and familiar with our own traditions. But, the good far outweighs the struggles.

I see by the watch on my wrist that it is time to go to the LTC service so I had best quit writing.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

On the light side of things

For once in my life I'm being a very good girl. I am not speculating or getting excited about happenings ahead of time. I'm reading what is out there regarding the meetings in New Orleans but I'm refusing to react until there is something more concrete.

On the other hand, short of briefing people on my sermon today (which was not one of my better ones due to the fact that I was fine tuning it at 7:30 this morning and found a glaring inconsistency) I haven't got much to say.

I have been dieting (it's actually going through a life style change) since May. I have lost about 37 pounds. Actually, I don't pay much attention to the scale. I don't even own one. Everyonce in a while I step on my parent's scale. I follow weight loss by the way my clothes fit and the way I look. I hadn't realized that all this time I've been using the scale wrong. No wonder it had me weighing so much. Now thanks to my sister-in-law I have discovered the right way to use it and I'm feeling much better about my weight.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Archbishop Michael Peers

A few years ago, at the Spring Festival of Emmanuel and St. Chad, Michael Peers was the speaker. I was only able to make it to one of his talks but was fairly impressed. I had met him years ago, shortly after he was elected primate and was impressed with his easy manner then. He reminded me of the Friendly Giant (I know - I'm dating myself). It was kind of interesting because my own father reminded people of the Friendly Giant and I can see some similarities between Dad and ++Michael.

++Michael spoke about the last Lambeth Conference and about Primate's Meetings. Today, I have found several links to this on Episcopal Majority. I have a lot of respect for ++Michael, especially after hearing him speak.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Thursday, September 06, 2007


As the September 30th deadline approaches things are getting heated up. More bishops are being consecrated by African provinces, more talk is getting extreme. It’s getting to the point where I have slacked off following events and reading comments on blogs. However, I have been silently watching for too long – and anyone who knows me knows that it is unusual for me to be silent for long periods of time.

Some thoughts:

As much as I have respect for the episcopacy, why are bishops being consecrated. We hear of the bishops but what about the priests. It appears to me that the movement is starting in the wrong place – from the top down. Shouldn’t it be going from the ground up? Shouldn’t there be at least a solid group for the bishops to minister to? It has me very puzzled. Okay, the Africans are setting up missions in the states. From what I remember of my Canadian church history classes – the English did not send over bishops first but rather missionaries. When the need arose for a bishop on Canadian soil, one was consecrated. So why are bishops being consecrated for the States before the need for them arises? What does this say about the intent? What does this say about the motives driving this? In all honesty, to me it says nothing positive or Christian. I shall just leave it at that.

There are reports out of Africa – Nigeria to be specific – of horrible comments made by Bishop Orama of Nigeria. I think of the women and men I have the honour of knowing, especially through Integrity, and shake my head at the rhetoric. “Inhuman” – part of the irony is that not so many years ago people like the African bishop who calls gays and lesbians “inhuman” and not worthy of life were considered those very same things.

It is common that those who were oppressed take on the characteristics of the oppressors when they gain their freedom. We see this so often in the cycles of domestic abuse. We see it when nations gain their independence. And we see it in the very statements made by this African bishop. He has learned his lessons well.

But most astoundingly is the remarkable silence of certain factions of our church regarding the meaning of the statement. A fair amount has been said about the dangers of such a statement, but not much has been said about the wrongness in the meaning. This also puzzles me for I count many among my friends and colleagues who do not have the same understanding of full inclusion of my GLBT brothers and sisters and yet not one of them would ever consider calling GLBTs inhuman or not worthy of life. Why is there such a deafening silence as to the meaning of the statement from the more vocal?

I note that on Father Jake’s there have been some attempts to deflect by pointing out that nothing has ever been done to John Spong (I also note that he (John Spong) has sent a letter to Rowan Williams and I cringe.) What Spong has said or done has no bearing on what Bishop Orama of Nigeria has said. If one wants to question the lack of reining Spong in that is fine. There are times when I almost wish he could be silenced or at least that he would be far more diplomatic in his words and actions. But Bishop Spong has nothing to do with what Bishop Orama said. It is two separate issues and need to be dealt with as two separate issues. It is not okay for Bishop Orama to say what he did just because Bishop Spong has said and done what he has said and done. To try and deflect the words of the Nigerian bishop with such an issue does not address the issue. The issue is that some very damaging statements were made that could lead to bodily harm – painful death at its worst and shunning at the least and there is significant silence from the various leaders throughout the Anglican Communion on the issue. Where is Peter Akinola? Where is Rowan Williams? Where is Katharine (sp) Jefferts Schori? Where is Fred Hiltz? Where are statements made to counteract the statements by Orama to reassure our GLBT brothers and sisters that this statement does not reflect the mind of the Communion or the various provinces?

Of course, we don’t want to make a mountain out of what we perceive as mole hills and our leaders probably believe and hope that this will blow over. But each time something like this is said, another nail pierces the hearts and souls of those being spoken about. We realize that this bishop is not speaking the mind of the majority of the Communion but more noticeable than his words is the silence greeting them. There has to come a time when those in leadership positions stand up and say that this has gone to far. It has happened with TEC and New West. Why is it not happening with statements such as Orama’s?

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Thoughts from blogland (Some of these are thanks to Father Jake's site):
Elizabeth Keaton
Mark Harris
Anglican Scotist
Susan Russell and this
Davis Mac-Iyalla
Scott Gunn

Monday, August 06, 2007


I am currently on holidays. We had planned to go to BC but our Newfie needed some major surgery to fix one of her legs - to the tune of $3200. So much for going anywhere. Between the cost and recovery time, we are sticking pretty close to home. If our son will look after the dog for us for one week we may make it to a lake.

But there are wonderful things to celebrate. Molly's surgery went well and she seems to be recovery nicely. She will need at least one more operation but it shouldn't be as expensive. If nothing else, this has helped us appreciate medicare all the more. Living in Canada we often don't realize the cost of our health care.

Staying home gives me more time to organize our celebration of Mom's and Dad's 60th aniversary celebration. We decided to have it out here rather than in the city. Part of it is that our costs for hall rental and catering are not as high. The other part is that Mom can just sit back and enjoy rather than worrying about being hostess with the responsibility of housing and feeding others. That falls onto my shoulders. Because we are keeping it small, it really isn't a lot of work for me either.

I get to do a service of celebration and thanksgiving. Mom and Dad decided that they wanted to renew their vows. The request threw me as I never thought they were into that sort of thing. Dad made the comment - "Why not? This time we won't have to keep them as long." (Meaning of course that they won't make another 60 years as both of them are 80 - just in case some might think they were planning on splitting in the near future.) I found a service from the Church of England that we will use as a base with the eucharist from the BAS - Eucharistic prayer #5. I sent a copy home with them tonight to look at and get back to me with suggestions.

Mom and Dad, my sister, and my older children and their partners were out tonight to help celebrate our youngest's birthday. Although I was not happy to discover I was pregnant over twelve years ago, I frequently give thanks for our youngest. He has taught me so much about life and about myself. He lives life very earnestly but celebrates each and every moment. He has taught me to do so myself and for someone who is prone to depression this is a real gift. I pray that he will never lose this himself as he grows older and begins to face the struggles and complications that come with maturity.

As I think of it, each of my children has given me so much. My oldest has taught me how to be a better parent (we went through a very rough 15th year with him). My second has taught me much about myself as she has a number of my traits. This has taught me how to celebrate the person I am. The third has helped me understand my more spiritual side. She has inner strengths and insights that never fail to amaze me. And my youngest as mentioned above.

I also give thanks for my husband. I often say that I may be his curse but he is very definitely my blessing. He has stuck with me and supported me through some pretty major changes.

So truly, life is blessed and I give thanks to God for all these blessings. Not being constantly on the go has given me time to reflect on these blessings, so I also give thanks for this time of relative quiet.

One last thing to celebrate. By the time this weekend comes, my house will be clean and I won't have to do fall cleaning in October. Or at least, I won't have to fall cleaning in the rectory. I will have to do some cleaning in my husband's house but at least it will only be the one house.

So, maybe our holidays haven't turned out as they were planned but, on the other hand, maybe they have turned out even better.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mussing up yet again

One of my biggest struggles at St. Paul's is our music ministry - we have very little. When I arrived, we had two organists who were members of our congregation. One has died and the other moved away. This leaves us with music students - who, let's be honest, are not always the most reliable although I really do appreciate their efforts. Often we find ourselves singing accapella. We're getting good at that but it means that we can't try too many new things.

Part of the problem is that I have been a member of a number of congregations so I find it difficult to remember which hymns are the ones St. Paul's knows and which are the ones that just my family knows. I've tried having a hymn chosing committee but this has not been successful. I've tried suggestion boxes and having various people chose the hymns but this has not seen much success either.

It leaves me struggling to arrange the music, always conscious of the displeasure of the people when I muss up. I think I could just about pray anything without complaint but music is almost a sacred cow. It doesn't help when I get slack about double checking tunes to familiar hymns. We sang - What a Friend We Have in Jesus. I figured I couldn't go wrong with that - everyone knows it. Well okay, everyone knows it but not to the tune that is in Common Praise. And wouldn't you just know. I never thought to check the tune when I chose the hymn. I didn't even think there could be more than one for such a old well known hymn.

Ohh boy. Apology time again. I suppose we could have looked for the tune we knew but that takes time and it's not fair to spring changes on organists at the last minute unless they are ones that know our music well. So muss up no. 1.

Actually that was muss up no. 2. The first came in the opening hymn which everyone knew. Which I thought I knew. So when the organist started before I had found it in my hymn book, I wasn't worried. I usually know the first verse of the older hymns. Unless of course, Common Praise decides to change the words. Then, as I'm trying to find the hymn and singing from memory, the congregation and I are singing different words - not a lot different but in a situation where I am required to lead the singing (which is because we have no choir) it does get a little tough.

I pray often for help in the music ministry area. I have enough basics but I would dearly love to have someone to take over responsibilty for this ministry. It takes far too much of my time. So if anyone is inspired to pray for something for my wonderful community - please pray for this.

I know there is a lot more that may be more important but at the moment this is a concern and distraction that are keeping me from those possiblty more important things - although, it is obviously very important to my people as it is the aspect of our worship that gets the most criticism. My "tweaking" of the services rarely raises an eybrow and my sermons don't often raise a comment (I wish they did, it would show that someone was listening). But something going wrong with the music is an issue. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not faulting my people on this - our music is something that obviously speaks strongly to them and I would agree on its that it speaks very strongly to the soul - more than just the spoken word).

So, if you could find a little time to say a prayer or two, I would greatly appreciate it.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Friday, July 27, 2007

An "Old Friend" - but not too old

Deb is in Canterbury. Does she ever stop traveling?

Anyway, she has started a blog to tell of her "tale".

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Oscar the Cat

I caught the tail end of this story on CTV News.

Then I saw a more detailed story linked at Episcopal Cafe.

I am a cat lover from way, way back. My godmother gave me a cat when I was 4 and I have rarely been without one since then. When we got "Leo" for the children, I would lay on the couch with him curled up beside me. It was so peaceful and relaxing to hear him purr - almost healing. I can understand how it would help to have that presence as one was dying.

I know that one of the nurses at the Long Term Care facility here has mentioned concern with the residents who die all alone. The staff does the best they can but they have other people to look after. I told her that I would be willing to come in and sit with anyone who was dying by themselves but there has been no follow up. This story about Oscar reminded me of that converstaion and I think I will bring this story up at the next vestry meeting as an introduction to a possible ministry for my sick and visiting teams.

Anyhow, this sort of thing, the specialness of animals fascinates me - especially when it involves cats.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I have to say that since General Synod I have come closer than ever to actually doing something other than just talk. I have listened to the pain of those who have remained in the church with faith and hope of full inclusion. If it was just myself involved, I would have no problem in continuing the path I have chosen - to be a voice of possibility. But hearing the pain of those around me is becoming too much. I desparately want to reach out. Recently, I have been far closer to saying yes to doing a same sex blessing than I ever have. Not because of my own conscience, I can live with that. But believing that these blessings are so totally right, the pain of those denied is so strong.

I had given serious thought to asking the bishop to take back my marriage liscence. If I can't do blessings for same sex couples then I won't for opposite sex sort of thing. But that doesn't solve what is happening. The problem is that some wonderful people I have come to know and love are being denied something that I truly believe should not be denied (not because of social justice - but because after years of study, prayer, and talk, I firmly believe that they are already blessed by God and who are we, as humans, to continue to deny that.)

It's not necessarily that all want a blessing. It is the message that we are giving out. In denying the blessing we are saying that we do not fully accept them as the wonderful children of God that they are. We speak one thing but our actions (or lack of actions) say another.

The questions becomes, how can I affirm people's life in the faith if that faith does not fully accept them? What is there for me to say in response to their pain as they look for hope in these confused times? What can I offer them that speaks to that hope?

I continue to hold to chosen path, but it is becoming harder and harder. I am so much more aware of how wrong it is that we exclude those who are loved by God for all that they are. For me, maybe it is simpler - if it got to be too much, I can find some other space to live and answer God's call. But for those I would leave behind the options are not as easy. So far the need to stay and be a voice outweighs the need to reach out and answer the call to bless, but it is more and more of a struggle with each person to whom I listen.

I will manage and I will continue as I have been. I have wonderful support. I do have hope. I am able to work at doing some concrete things. But my heart and prayers are with those who do not have these things. If I'm struggling, I can only begin to imagine how much harder it is for them. As weak as my words and prayers are, please know that you are not alone and that you are loved for all that you are. I sincerely believe that there is hope for us all.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Past Reflections

A few things have come up recently that has me thinking about how we learn to get along in our diversity (a diversity to be celebrated rather than seen as a problem). I went back to my original posts which explain the title of this blog.

Setting It Up and "Sarah's Circle" .

These are how I understand a way forward for the church. I realize that there are some problems with the vision - these ways very much reflect my own theology and may not resonate fully with those whose theology differs. I do welcome that diversity, though.

I am happy to see that we are starting to look at the healing of relationships among us. That we are starting to look at how to come together and share in our diversity. So far, in my own personal little world this is happening in two separate spaces - one I posted about a couple of posts down and another that is also in the planning stage that I have been asked to help in setting up the way in which we can dialogue in a safe and welcoming space. I hold hope that it is may no longer be a matter of proving who is right and who is wrong but rather that our focus will be how we can live and work together as people of God. In this diocese this is both a movement from the "powers that be" and from the local clergy. I do note the lack of the grassroots in this last statement but in all honesty if my congregation is anything to go by, one of the major ways that living with diversity becomes an issue is if the priest makes it an issue, which I refuse to do and work hard to bring acceptance and respect of all healthy differences.

I do value my time at seminary and the relationships that were formed there as well as the relationships that continue as we move further away from that space. To some extent, it anchors me as learn and grow in my own ministry and the relationships with the various members of the expanded community.

My first year at seminary I was "thrown to the lions", "burned at the stake", and "tarred and feathered" but never was I "crucified" or more formally excommunicated (although this latter was mentioned). And, with the exception of the "excommunication", what was done was done with good humour and caring as we learned to live with our differences - and let's face it, I certainly relished being different and fostering those reactions. Our discussions, although at times serious and intense, always left room for the fact that we did truly care about each other. If one of us was in crisis, all would be there for them. I find that in my congregation - if one is having diffculty all are there for support and none more so than those who usually disagree. I love watching the dynamics of the different relationships, some of which amaze me because of how different the individuals are. I know that there is hope if only we can put our individual selves and our own need to be right and affirmed by all aside and start to listen and care with each other.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I was over at An Inch at a Time. I followed her link to this Walking with Integrity. Most of what it says reflects what I feel so I just thought I would link it and let it speak for me.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Well, it's been a couple of interesting days in blogland. On a personal level, I had lunch the other day with a wonderful person I was meeting for the first time. She is the fiance of a very good friend of mine and I was thrilled to have the chance to get to know her a little. I was also so thrilled to see the bond between my friend and her. I am looking forward to getting to know her better in the future. One of the highlights was when I discovered that she knew some of my favourite bloggers from around the New York area. It made blogland seem that much smaller.

Feminism seems the issue de jour over the last couple of days. I am not going to make any comments on the particular postings that started all the turmoil ( added after the original posting - except a rant at the end of this posting - I just couldn't keep quiet it seems) but I do see some things that cause me to stop and think.

I am a feminist. I accept that title with pride. I used to qualify it but I do so no more. I cringe each time a read a post which claims that feminists are harmful to society or a post that claims that feminists are against women who decide to stay at home to work raising their families. I chose to stay at home and raise my family until my youngest was in grade 2. I don't feel any lack in doing that. I believe it is what God called me to do. So, to claim, that I as a feminist do not support such a thing is laughable. I have a daughter who is a feminist - her desire for her life - to stay at home looking after the two children she hopes to have. I don't have a problem with that at all.

My mother wanted her daughters to have both a career and a family. For many years, one of her daughters had a career and one of her daughters had a family (although I guess I could say that my career was looking after my family). At first I felt that I was not living up to my own expectations - that I should be getting my degree and working outside my home. I finally came to peace with the way my life was (and God zapped me by calling me to the ordained ministry). With that peace, I realized that my mother had gotten what she wished for just not in the way she wanted. I also realized that it was interesting that both my sister and I realized that each of our life choices involved full time work and just how hard it would be for someone to have both a career and a family life. It's not easy to balance. I sincerely believe that God was with me through all of this, giving me the chance to be the mother I needed to be but when my family was ready, calling me into my vocation/career. Now I try to balance both as do many other women.

Where I want to go with this is to debunk the fact that a woman cannot be a feminist and support stay at home moms at the same time. It is not an either/or position. I am getting hot under the collar with the people assume, based on the words of a few, that this is something inherent to feminism.

Next rant is about the idea that feminism has harmed society. I don't even know where to start. Frustration doesn't even begin to describe what I feel when I see this old line trotted out. Harmed society - ha. Is there no understanding of how "society" has harmed women throughout the centuries. I think one of the lines I read recently was about women's ordination. It went something along the lines that the writer believed that men and women were created equal but that did not give women the inherent right to be ordained. Damn right it doesn't. It also doesn't give men the inherent right to be ordained. God calls those that God wishes to serve in this manner. None of us has the inherent right. It is God's choice and God's call. What right do we as human beings have to dispute God's call. Do people not see the harm they do in disputing women's called to ordained ministry. How can you say that we are equal and then suggest that there is something in being a woman that means you cannot participate equally if called.

The so called harm occurs in the natural adjustment to what is right with the way we are created. The so called harm occurs when we cannot open our eyes and ears to what God is trying to say to us about who and what we are - when we continue to be hidebound by many years of tradition, which is based on erroneous understandings of what it means to be human and what it means to male/female. I read how the early church fathers understood males and females and I cringe. My experience doesn't back that up at all. The Bible doesn't back that up either as far as I can see. We are suppose to weep for those who can't accept us (women) as we struggle to understand ourselves and our capabilities - as we discover there is more to us than we have been taught throughout the centuries (mainly by men but also by women). And I do weep and pray for them in their blindness and in their pain. But stopping my push toward full acceptance does not make things right. The harm that is being done is a product of what is happening as we adjust to the changes our heightened understanding brings. It is not something I would wish for but it is a part of the process as we learn to let go of misconceptions that have been fostered through our history.

It is not a world of either/or. That is a human construct. There is so much more out there. There are endless possiblities. We limit ourselves with either/or thinking. We limit what God can do with our either/or thinking. We limit our relationships with our either/or thinking. We label people as certain things and then claim that because they are that label, they must also be this and this and this. We can't see that people can be more than one set of things that there are blurring of lines or even bits and pieces taken from each of the categories we are so rigid about. We are much more than just where we stand on issues or how we do liturgy or whatever it is that we use to define ourselves. Indeed definitions result from our need for security and stability rather than reality. And those definitions are very harmful. They also can block us from forming some wonderful relationships and taking advantage of learning opportunities.

And one more rant over what is happening in various parts of blogland. A blogger made a mistake which caused harm to another blogger. The mistake was corrected when it was pointed out. Unfortunately, someone got hold of the original blog and would not let it go. The harm was perpetuated. A sincere apology was offered by the first blogger to the person who was hurt. Still there are many in blogland who will not let go. Who gave these people the right to judge and condemn. Who gave these people the right to continue the original harm being done. Those people who are not able to let go, who are calling out for blood are not following the Christ that I have come to know and love. This is not the behaviour of the Christ that hung on the cross (out of love for all of sinners) and asked, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing." Those people are not following the example of the Jesus I know who when people repented of their sins, responded - go and sin no more. He did not demand that they give their blood until there was nothing left to give. For God's sake, people (and I do mean that literally) give it up. Let go and leave it to God to judge and forgive. Leave it where it truly belongs. Are you willing to go on condemning while knowing the grevious sins that you have committed over the years and for which you have asked and received forgiveness. You say the Lord's prayer every day. Do the words - forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us - mean nothing to you. Quit trying to demonize those who make you uncomfortable and please start listening to what they are really saying rather than what you want them to say so that you can categorize them in a way that makes you comfortable rather than as a child loved and forgiven by God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.