Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Reflections on the Beauty and Brokeness of Religion

I did the interview on Voice of Islam today. Basically, we were discussing how we explain that religion is not toxic. Unfortunately, time ran out and I wasn’t able to explain how I view this topic fully.

I have been listening to a lot of atheists on Youtube lately. My heart often breaks. I cannot deny their experience at the hands of Christians. I cannot deny that there are Christians out there who rigidly and blindly deny the facts of science. As much as I can't deny all of this, I also want to say - but we are so much more than what you perceive. We are not all as bad as what you have seen. There is depth and beauty to us as well.

First I am going to deal with what I think about religion being toxic. Religion at times has been used in a toxic manner by humans. As stated in my Facebook post about doing the interview. I live on Treaty Six lands. The church, of which I am a part, has done great damage on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual etc. to the First Nations people. But that is not who God is. God is love. 

In the late 1990's our then Primate - Michael Peers - apologized for our role in the residential schools. The Anglican Church took part in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. A few years ago, the then Primate - Fred Hiltz - apologized for the spiritual harm we did to the First Nations of Canada. It is but a beginning. We have a long way to go yet, but being able to face and acknowledge the harm we did and our brokenness in doing so is a start.

I have long been an ally for LGBTQ… The Church has done great harm to these people as well. But, again, that is not who God is nor is it what God calls us to be. We, in our flawed humanness have got it wrong.

I have thought about this ever since I was asked to do the interview. How has this come about. God is a god of love for all God has created. How have individuals who worship God been so full of hatred and harm?

One of my father’s favourite verses is Micah 6:8 –

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
   and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
   and to walk humbly with your God?” NRSV

I do think humans believe that they are doing all these things. But there is at least one glaring flaw that prevents us from actually accomplishing them – “walking humbly with God.” We have placed ourselves equal with God. We have created God in our own image rather than learning to live into the fact that we are created in God’s image. We reject God’s image and instead create a God that reflects our own wants, values, desires. This God, who looks at all that God has made – which is everything – and sees it as good, is not to our liking. We cannot accept that God might well have created and loved that which makes us uncomfortable, that which does not conform to exactly how we are – monochromatic. As a result, in the sin of pride in our own sense of righteousness, our own characteristics etc. we have decided that God must be like us – hating part of God’s creation, seeing it as not good and therefore to be chastised, judged, and cast aside.

Through this sin of pride, we have continued to sin against God and against neighbour relatively unchecked, refusing to see how destructive this is to God’s creation. We need to acknowledge this before we can move into the beauty of religion. We cannot deny the harm we have done by pretending that religion has not been used in toxic ways.

The atheists and others of other religions are right to call us out. We cannot discount their experiences and perceptions. We need to take an objective look at them. We need to understand how they see us and why. Some – not all – of it is valid. Although not all of it is practised by my own Church - the Anglican Church of Canada - I cannot deny the fact that we have definitely contributed to some of it. We are not blameless. So often I want to respond to the atheists to whom I listen that they have it wrong. That what they are saying is not the Church I know. But I do know that there are aspects of Christianity, including in my own denomination, that do reflect what they are saying. We need to stop the very human reaction of automatically denying this and say – yes, we have failed on a number of levels.

That being said – I will not compromise on my faith. As ridiculous or as far fetched as some would see my faith – to me it is very real. My faith may not be based on objective fact but it is based on very real experience. It is my experience of many aspects of the Divine that keeps me moving forward, that keeps me trying to do better, that gives me an image to grow into to become more wholly myself as a part of this beautiful wonderful cosmos God has created.

All this being said – I want to spend some time on the beauty I have experienced in my faith. I have experienced great harm from individuals in Christianity. However, I recognize that these people are like me. They are struggling to make sense of a chaotic world. They are struggling with the sin of pride that would have everyone be like them – just as I struggle with this sin. Like me, they are broken people who are truly trying to live into their full potential. Like me they are afraid.

I have seen the good in these people. I have seen that their interactions with me do not fully define them. I have seen them reach out to others with care and concern. I have seen them give of themselves as much as they can. I have seen them strive for justice. Just because they got it wrong with me does not mean that they got it wrong completely. So many times, in other instances, they have got it so right. For these instances of kindness and compassion to others, I give them thanks for inspiring me to do likewise.

I have also seen the good in people that has been reflected in their treatment of me. Nowhere I have experienced this more fully than in Wainwright and Edgerton. I say these two places as they are they ones who received a very broken priest and were instrumental in healing her as much as she could be healed. It is not just the response and care they gave to me. It is the countless times I saw them reach out to others with love and care – others who were not like them. Others whose lives experiences were so far from what they experienced. Time and again I saw them giving of themselves in so many ways to consciously work to bring in the Kin-dom. They inspired me and helped me grow – the task of a Christian community to its members. Were they perfect – not always. Were they beautiful souls striving to live into the image of the One who created them – you bet. It is these people who have helped me keep my faith both in God and in humanity. It is these people who give me hope that the Kin-dom is possible. It is these people, I wish the atheists and others could see as an example of the possibility for good that is present in all religions. These people and others who I have been blessed to have in my life.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Lammas Day




Pentecost 9
Service of the Word
St. Thomas and St. Mary’s Anglican Churches
August 5, 2020


Opening Sentence
You shall observe the festival of harvest,
of the first fruits of your labour,
of what you sow in the field.
You shall observe the festival of ingathering
at the end of the year,
when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labour.


THE GATHERING OF THE COMMUNITY
Introductory Responses
O God, be not far from us.
Come quickly to help us, O God.
Christ has shown forth his glory:
O come let us worship.

Glory to the holy and undivided Trinity, one God:
as it was in the beginning,
is now and will be for ever.
Amen. Alleluia.

Christ, mighty Saviour, Light of all creation,
you make the daytime radiant with sunlight
and to the night give glittering adornment,
stars in the heavens.

Now comes the day’s end as the sun is setting:
mirror of daybreak, pledge of resurrection;
while in the heavens choirs of stars appearing
hallow the nightfall.

Therefore we come now, evening rites to offer,
joyfully chanting holy hymns to praise you,
with all creation joining hearts and voices
singing your glory.

Give heed, we pray you, to our supplication:
that you may grant us pardon for offences,
strength for our weak hearts, rest for aching bodies,
soothing the weary

Though bodies slumber, hearts shall keep their vigil,
forever resting in the peace of Jesus,
in light or darkness worshipping our Saviour
now and forever.

Presentation of the Lammas Loaf
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the people of God in ancient times presented to the
Lord an offering of first-fruits as a sign of their dependence upon God for their daily
bread. At this Lammastide, we bring a newly baked loaf as our offering in thanksgiving
to God for his faithfulness.

Jesus said, ‘I am the bread of life;
those who come to me shall never be hungry
and those who believe in me shall never thirst.’
John 6.35

The Lammas loaf is brought to the president.
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation;
you bring forth bread from the fields
and give us the fruits of the earth in their seasons.
Accept this loaf, which we bring before you,
made from the harvest of your goodness.
Let it be for us a sign of your fatherly care.
Blessed are you, Lord our God,
worthy of our thanksgiving and praise.
Blessed be God for ever.

A Lammastide Carol
In the fullness of the Summer time,
Grapes are ripening on the vine,
And the grain is swelling in the field:
First fruit of the Har-vest time.
Now the Lammas Bread is gi~ven,
Now the wood has made the wine;
God has opened Nature’s sto-re.

On a hillside of the Galilee,
Hungry people gathered to hear
Words of hope from the Messi-ah:
Love and trust; and never you fear.
Fish and bread and wine a ple~nty,
Peace and fellowship divine,
In the presence of the Lo-rd.

Jesus Christ the Son of Ma-ry:
Bread of heaven, living and true:
Bringing all into community;
By his Spirit, living anew.
Faithful shepherd of his pe~ople,
Gave his life to save us all
From the shadows at the do-or.

Now, two thousand years have come and gone,
Countless millions honour his name;
Bread is still the food of fellowship,
Oil and wine together proclaim:
Joy and healing to the na~tions,
Darkness yields to life again,
At his table evermo-re.
© Stephen Southgate TSSF - August 2012
Free to use with copyright acknowledgement

The Proclamation of the Word

Psalm 104.10-15  Benedic, anima mea
You send the springs into the valleys;
they flow between the mountains.

All the beasts of the field drink their fill from them,
and the wild asses quench their thirst.
    
Beside them the birds of the air make their nests
and sing among the branches.

You water the mountains from your dwelling on high;
the earth is fully satisfied by the fruit of your works.

You make grass grow for flocks and herds
and plants to serve human beings
that they may bring forth food from the earth,

Wine to gladden our hearts,
oil to make a cheerful countenance,
and bread to strengthen the heart.

Glory to the holy and undivided Trinity, one God:
as it was in the beginning,
is now and will be for ever. Amen.

Exodus 16.11-15
The Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, “At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.” ’

In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God.

The Responsory
Fear not, for I have redeemed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
 
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.
When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
    
You are precious in my sight and I love you.
Do not fear, for I am with you.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.

2 Corinthians 9.6-11
The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written,
‘He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
   his righteousness endures for ever.’
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us;

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God.

Magnificat  Steve Bell
O Worship the King
O worship the King all-glorious above,
O gratefully sing his power and his love:
our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
pavilioned in splendour and girded with praise.

The earth with its store of wonders untold,
Almighty, thy power hath founded of old;
Hath stablished it fast by a changeless decree
And round it hath cast, like a mantle, the sea.

Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
and sweetly distils in the dew and the rain.

O measureless might, ineffable Love,
While angels delight to hymn thee above!
Thy humbler creation, though feeble their lays,
With true adoration shall sing to thy praise!
The Lord be with you,
and also with you.

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
according to John.
Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

John 6.28-35
Then they said to him, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’ So they said to him, ‘What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” ’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’

Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

The Gospel of Christ.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Sermon
Apostles’ Creed
Let us confess the faith of our baptism as we say,
I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again
to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.  Amen.

We Plough the Fields
We plow the fields and scatter
the good seed on the land,
but it is fed and watered
by God's almighty hand.
He sends the snow in winter,
the warmth to swell the grain,
the breezes and the sunshine,
and soft refreshing rain.

Refrain:
All good gifts around us
are sent from heav'n above;
then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
for all his love.

He only is the Maker
of all things near and far;
he paints the wayside flower,
he lights the evening star;
the wind and waves obey him,
by him the birds are fed;
much more to us, his children,
he gives our daily bread.

We thank you, then, O Father,
for all things bright and good:
the seed-time and the harvest,
our life, our health, our food;
no gifts have we to offer
for all your love imparts,
but that which you desire now:
our humble, thankful hearts!

The Prayers of the Community

The Litany
Send forth your strength, O God;
establish what you have wrought in us.

Uphold all those who fall
and raise up those who are bowed down.

Open the eyes of the blind and set the prisoners free.
Sustain the orphan and widowed
and give food to those who hunger.

Grant them the joy of your help again
and sustain them with your Spirit.

Giver of peace, judge the peoples
and take all nations for your own.

Prayers of the People:
   Pray for the new Province of Alexandria
Anglican Church of Canada
   Diocese of Qu’Appelle
      the Right Reverend Robert Hardwick, Bishop
Council of the North
   Fall Meeting of the Council of the North
      the Right Reverend William Cliff, Chair
Diocese of Edmonton
   Christ Church, Edmonton
      Susan Oliver, Rector
      Chelsy Bouwman, Associate Priest
   Buy√© Diocese, Kibonde Parish
      Serges Rwasa, Rector
    Enoch Cree Nation

We continue to pray for Burundi and our twinned parishes
      Kabanga and St. Luke’s Bigombo
We also pray for the Canadian Armed Forces
  serving at home and abroad.

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
Come, ye thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in,
ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide
for our wants to be supplied;
come to God's own temple, come,
raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God's own field,
fruit as praise to God we yield;
wheat and tares together sown
are to joy or sorrow grown;
first the blade and then the ear,
then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we
wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come,
and shall take the harvest home;
from the field shall in that day
all offenses purge away,
giving angels charge at last
in the fire the tares to cast;
but the fruitful ears to store
in the garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come,
bring thy final harvest home;
gather thou thy people in,
free from sorrow, free from sin,
there, forever purified,
in thy presence to abide;
come, with all thine angels, come,
raise the glorious harvest home.

Let us give thanks to God,
the God of all peoples of the earth.

For the colour and forms of your creation
and our place within it,
we bring our thanks, good Lord:
your mercy endures for ever.

For our daily food,
and for those whose work and skill
bring your good gifts to us,
we bring our thanks, good Lord:
your mercy endures for ever.

For the gifts and graces
inspired in human minds and hearts;
for insight and imagination,
for the skills of research
which bring healing and fulfilment to the lives of many;
we bring our thanks, good Lord:
your mercy endures for ever.

For the light and shades of the changing seasons,
and their variety and dependability;
for new life and growth out of barrenness and decay;
we bring our thanks, good Lord:
your mercy endures for ever.

For new hope and strength in our communities,
especially in your Church
and among all you call to serve you,
we bring our thanks, good Lord;
your mercy endures for ever.

For all in whose lives we see goodness, kindness,
gentleness, patience and humility,
and all the fruit of the Spirit,
we bring our thanks, good Lord:
your mercy endures for ever.

For the life we have been given,
and for all those whom you have given us to share it,
we bring our thanks, good Lord:
your mercy endures for ever.

The Collect of the Day
Eternal God,
you crown the year with your goodness
and you give us the fruits of the earth in their season:
grant that we may use them to your glory,
for the relief of those in need,
and for our own well-being;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen


The Lord’s Prayer
Trusting in the compassion of God
and gathering our prayers and praises into one,
let us pray as our Saviour taught us,

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.

All Things Bright and Beautiful
Refrain:
All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful,
the Lord God made them all.

Each little flow'r that opens,
each little bird that sings,
he made their glowing colors,
he made their tiny wings.

The purple-headed mountain,
the river running by,
the sunset, and the morning
that brightens up the sky.

The cold wind in the winter,
the pleasant summer sun,
the ripe fruits in the garden,
he made them, ev'ry one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
the meadows where we play,
the flowers by the water
we gather ev'ry day.

He gave us eyes to see them,
and lips that we might tell
how great is God Almighty,
who has made all things well.

Dismissal
Tend the earth,
care for God’s good creation,
and bring forth the fruits of righteousness.
Go in the peace of Christ.
Thanks be to God.

Go Now in Peace


Evening Prayer
adapted from:
PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
Morning and Evening Prayer for Ordinary Time
Prepared by the Ven. Dr. Richard Leggett
for the Faith, Worship, and Ministry Committee Of the Anglican Church of Canada

The psalm is from:
A Liturgical Psalter
General Synod 2016 Edition
The Psalter of The Book of Alternative Services Emended for Contemporary Liturgical Use