Skip to content

Reflections, Images, and Videos for St. Patrick’s Day and the Third Sunday in Lent

348735bda76ba902ffb76b4dca9b1cacMar. 19 blog

Animated-glittering-three-leaf-cloverIn honour of St. Patrick’s Day, our Services on March 19 had a strong Celtic flavour. Here, embedded immediately below, are videos of 4 Irish songs about Our Lord’s love, the third of which is based on St. Patrick’s Breastplate. Following these, there are 2 videos of running water in an Irish waterfall and cave. We watched all of these videos before our 10 a.m. Service to prepare us for worship. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our Liturgy at both our 8:30 and 10 a.m. Services began with the following Call to Worship based on St. Patrick’s Breastplate.

Mar. 19 2Mar. 19 3

At our 10 a.m. Service, we had fun (and got our exercise) singing the following song with our children as part of the Children’s Talk.

Mar. 19 4Mar. 19 5Mar. 19 6Mar. 19 7

Here’s a video of “I’ve Got Peace Like a River,” minus the actions we did as we sang it together.

flowing-waterfall-cliff-green-nature-animated-gifMar. 19 blog 2

Here’s the Gospel passage we read at both Services.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

e6b6624818b97c38707940a535d1dc8bMar. 19 blog 3b

[Here’s an adapted version of the sermon I preached at both Services.]

wwWater imagery occurs throughout today’s Readings from Holy Scripture. Exodus 17 & Psalm 95 refer to the story of water coming from rock while the people of Israel were in the Wilderness. Romans 5 says that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” But we see it especially in our Gospel Reading. Last week, we looked at the life-changing encounter of Nicodemus with Jesus. This week, we’re looking at the life-changing encounter between Jesus and a woman of Samaria at Jacob’s Well.

Before we look together at this passage, let’s watch this video of the first part of it interpreted on film.

Map-Israel-New-Testament-TimesIt’s actually remarkable that this encounter occurred at all. In verses 3-4, just before today’s passage, it says, “Jesus left Judea and started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria.” It’s true that to go straight to Galilee from Judea, you have to pass through Samaria. But actually, Jews usually didn’t go straight – they went around the region of Samaria. This was because of animosity towards the Samaritans, but also because of the Samaritans’ animosity towards them. Jesus, however, it says, had to go through Samaria. The Greek here is ‘edei‘: it was necessary . Jesus has a “divine appointment.” He overcomes all obstacles for it to happen. This is the first: the appointment’s location.

Verses 5-6 continue: “So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.”

John, who emphasizes Jesus’ divinity, also emphasizes his full humanity. Jesus is tired … and thirsty.

618625af59cdc28b391ccdf8c5fd4521Verse 7 then says, “A Samaritan woman came to draw water.” This was an unusual sight. First, it’s unusual, because Sychar had its own well in the town. You didn’t need to go to Jacob’s Well outside the town for water – unless you weren’t welcome to use the well in it. Second, it’s unusual because of the time. You came to draw water in the evening or morning, but not the heat of the day – unless you wanted to avoid people.

John continues: “Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.)”

The disciples have taken the bucket with them. Jesus initiates contact, overcoming 2 more barriers. 

samaritan-woman2The Samaritan woman points these barriers out, when she says to him in reply, “‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?'” John then adds parenthetically, “(Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)”

As I mentioned earlier, there was mutual hostility between Jews and Samaritans, going back to the Exile, 600 years before! When the exiles from the South came back from Babylon, they found that those who’d stayed behind had married and had families with those the Assyrians had brought into the land, and wanted nothing to do with them. They saw these people as unclean – a half step to Gentiles. Things continued in the same vein on both sides from there. Because Jews saw Samaritans as unclean, wouldn’t use any of their utensils.

Also, this person was a woman. In that society, a man didn’t talk with a woman by herself. It was considered a temptation. Some even went so far as to say that even if it’s your wife or sister, you shouldn’t talk with her in public, to avoid the appearance of impropriety. This was magnified even further if the man were a rabbi, a holy man.

christ-and-the-samaritan-woman-fragment-1311In verse 10 , it says, “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.'”

“Living” or “running” water was the best kind. Water in wells and cisterns was stagnant, but it was pure. Throughout the Old Testament, it’s used in a spiritual sense. for example, Jeremiah 2:13 says: “My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.” 

Does the woman misunderstand? (It’s the same question we asked about Nicodemus last week.) Or is she deliberately being obtuse? We don’t know.

Verses 11-12 continue: “The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor [in the Greek, it’s ‘patros‘ – father] Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?'”

womanwellA nice dig there. Jews didn’t consider Samaritans to be proper descendants – children – of Jacob, but Samaritans did.

In response, Jesus says to her, “‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.'”

This is very similar to what Jesus said to Nicodemus. Here he uses imagery appropriate to the situation – water, rather than birth – to make the point that he’s offering the gift of new and eternal life within.

The woman responds: “‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.'”

youthministryobjectlesson-lessonsforevangelismofyouth-thesamaritanwoman-140309204256-phpapp01-thumbnail-4“Wouldn’t I like water like that!” I think that there’s a wistfulness here, a genuine longing, a yearning, she as yet cannot perhaps even name  (like Nicodemus’ saying: “Wouldn’t I like to be born a second time!”). And so. she asks Jesus: “Give this water to me.”

Jesus then does something that seems to be right out in left field: “Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.'” The reason for this statement is about to become clear. Jesus is beginning of soul surgery, dealing with the final block between this woman and an encounter with Jesus that will change her life forever.

The woman answers, “‘I have no husband.'” But Jesus counters, “‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!'”

Jesus puts his finger on the spot of her shame, humiliation, the cause of her alienation, why she comes to Jacob’s Well with the sun scorching her in the middle of the day. Like a doctor, he touches this spot … and it hurts.

1280186417samaritan-womanThe woman responds: “‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.'”

This could be a diversion, and attempt to shift the spotlight off of her life, to get release from the touch that is hurting. Or, as in the above movie clip, it could be a genuine block for her.This was the main source of conflict between Jews and Samaritans. When the Jews rebuilt the temple, they refused participation by Samaritans. So the Samaritans built their own, on Mount Gerazim. This temple was destroyed under the Maccabees. Then about 20 years before this conversation, some Samaritans defiled the temple in Jerusalem by scattering human bones in the courtyard during Passover.

Words like these can be either a diversion or a genuine block. Sometimes, when God is moving in people, they can find reasons to resist change. “If there really is a God, why is there such suffering in the world?” “Who can really know?” “Wouldn’t it be more prudent to hold back from doing anything rash?” These questions can be a kind of smoke screen to disappear behind when the Great Physician’s hands are touching us. But they can also be genuine: “If God really is love, why did my mother / my spouse / my child die so painfully?” The essential point is that Jesus in love overcomes whatever the barriers are. They don’t need to prevent people from receiving the water he wants to give them.

samaritan-woman-at-the-well-jruchi-gospels-ii-mss-georgia-12th-cenJesus says to her, “‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.'”

Jesus responds: “It so happens that the Jews are right about the location of the temple, but it doesn’t matter. God is looking for people to worship genuinely, for a relationship of love. God is looking for people like YOU.”  

The woman says to him, “‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.'”

The Samaritans were indeed looking for a Messiah. She’s saying: “I’ll get right with God when … ; I’ll go deeper when … when God appears to make things clear. One day things will be different, be better.”

2360530_f520Jesus replies to this: “‘I am he , [In Greek it’s just: ‘I am’] the one who is speaking to you.'”

“This is the day you can experience this. You don’t have to wait any longer. You can know this right now.” 

How fitting it is that this encounter should take place at Jacob’s Well – where Jacob met Rachel! Jean Vanier comments: “The meeting of Jesus and this Samaritan woman at the well is a meeting of love. Jesus, the divine Bridegroom, reveals his love for her.”

The result? We see the change in her by what happens next.

“Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?'”

BLOG-WaW-Empty-Water-JarShe is so excited that she has to share. And she goes to the very people who had ostracized her! Note how her relationship struggles had been her self-identity, her secret. And not just hers. They all knew what she was talking about! But, Jesus touched her where she was broken, and now she can share with it as a testimony of Jesus’ healing.

Verse 39 says, “Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.””

160217132605e9b3b2913e579c654d6544bac171c5fdIn his homily on this passage, St. John Chrysostom offered this reflection:

Observe her zeal and wisdom. She came to draw water, and when she had lighted upon the true Well, … what the Apostles did, that, after her ability, did this woman also. They when they were called, left their nets; she of her own accord, without the command of any, leaves her water pot, and winged by joy performs the office of Evangelist. And she calls not one or two, as did Andrew and Philip, but having aroused a whole city and people, so brought them to Him.

There was no denying the effect on her. And so she was the first evangelist to the Samaritans; just as the first evangelist to the Gentiles wasthe demon-possessed man who was healed in the region of the Gerasenes. Both shared what Jesus had done; they bore witness by being who they were – healed.

This story was not written for us to admire it from a distance, saying, “Isn’t it great how Jesus reached out to a woman of Samaria!”

christ_and_samaritan_woman_henryk_siemiradzki

At the end of John’s Gospel, he says: “These things are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name” (20:31). 

Jesus has a divine appointment with you today. He knows your thirst, the places you’re broken. He knows all the barriers, all the reasons you can think of why this can’t be for you, and he’s overcome them all. He’s offering this gift to you. He wants you TODAY to know this fountain of water welling up to eternal life inside – for the first time, or for the 101st time! 

FG-Jan07-04

And he wants you to share about this water with others who are themselves thirsting for living water their souls, as one desert traveller tells another where they’ve found an oasis.

Let’s spend a few minutes reflecting and responding to Jesus’ offer to us, as we listen to Irishman Robin Mark leading a Belfast congregation in song.

Let us pray. From Andrew King:

well-7How often have I come here,
Jesus, to this place of
old faith and fresh neediness,
bent down with the burden
of my failures, stumbling
in my thirsting for hopefulness,
the cracked vessel of my heart
leaking grief. . .

how often have I come here
not expecting you in the heat
of my pressures,
not expecting you in the stress
of my confusion,
yet meeting you
who offers water to the helpless,
who quenches the raw thirst
for acceptance,
who gives the deep sustenance
of kindness without payment,
the nourishment of love

without limit. . .

how often have you met me,
refilling my heart, leaving me
astonished again

in the depths of my being
that you waited here
for me, even me?

Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

giphyMar. 19 blog 4

We used the following Celtic Litany for the form of the Prayers of the People at both March 19 Services.

Mar. 19 11Mar. 19 12Mar. 19 13Mar. 19 14

At our 10 a.m. Service, a modern version of St. Patrick’s Lorica (sung in the video below by its composer) was our Song after Communion.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

WaterDayDuring our Announcements’ time, we remembered that March 22 is World Water Day. We celebrated that our Parish has raised $13,450 since 2008 to build 134 biosand filters through the Calgary-based Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST)! social_media_shareBut we also remembered that so much still needs to be done, as over 1.8 billion people still are drinking fecally contaminated water, and 2.4 billion people still lack access to basic sanitation. The theme for World Water Day 2017 is “Waste Water.” Here’s a brief video we watched about this at our 10 a.m. Service.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

tumblr_ocibudIVh61sdqemdo1_500Mar. 19 blog 5

We left our 10 a.m. Service with joy at Our Lord’s love for us, and the opportunities we have to share this love with others.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

use me

o-SAINT-PATRICK-570For St. Patrick’s Day material from 2015, please click here.

For St. Patrick’s Day material from 2014, please click here.

For St. Patrick’s Day material from 2013, please click here.

For St. Patrick’s Day material from 2012, please click here, here, here, and here.

glendalough-monastic-site-cr-getty

Reflections, Images, and Videos for the Second Sunday in Lent

Mar. 12 Blog

Jn 3.16On March 12, the Second Sunday in Lent, our Gospel Reading included the famous words of John 3:16 (pictured above). Here, embedded immediately below, are the 4 videos we watched before our 10 a.m. Service to prepare us for worship. All of them are based on this awesome verse.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Norman Knowles - smallIn the Children’s Talk at our 10 a.m. Service, Fr. Norman told the children the story in the following video, likening the new birth Jesus speaks about in our Gospel passage for the day to the transformation that takes place when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly.

Our Gospel passage at our 8:30 and 10 a.m. Services was the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus that takes place in John 3:1-17.

Here are the last 5 verses of this passage. 

Here’s the entire passage as depicted in the motion picture “The Gospel of John” and the TV Mini-Series “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Here are 2 sermons for the Second Sunday in Lent.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We departed our 10 a.m. Service with the videos continuing to proclaim the message of John 3:16 of God’s love for us and for all.

Reflections, Images, and Videos for the First Sunday in Lent

Mar. 5

jesus-temptedMarch 5 was the First Sunday in Lent, the Season in which we focus on Our Lord’s unfathomable love for us. We watched the 4 videos embedded immediately below before our 10 a.m. Service to prepare us for worship. This measureless love features prominently in the first 2. The 3rd has a creation theme that is continued in the First Holy Scripture Reading. and the 4th shows scenes from the Judaean Wilderness, the location of Our Lord’s fasting and temptation described in our Gospel Reading.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We began our 8:30 and 10 a.m. Liturgies with the following video on what Lent is “all about.”

Here’s the Gospel Passage that was read at both Services.

Here are 2 sermons for the First Sunday in Lent.


At our 8:30 and 10 a.m. Services, we followed our practice of processing the Great Litany on the First Sunday in Lent, as in the video below.

St-David-of-Wales

In honour of the Feast of St. David on March 1, our 8:30 and 10 a.m. Services featured a number of Welsh hymns. We ended both of them singing perhaps the best-known of all the Welsh hymns, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.” (Unlike the congregation of Tabernacle Welsh Baptist Church, Cardiff, in the video below, we sang it in English only!)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As we departed our 10 a.m. Services, the following videos sent us into the world with hearts singing of our Saviour’s love.

crown-of-thorns-golden-crown

Six Ash Wednesday Reflections

feb-10-background-4

ash-wednesday-cross2On Ash Wednesday, March 1, we shared Services of Holy Eucharist and the Imposition of Ashes at 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. After the 9:30 Service, we watched and discussed the five Ash Wednesday Reflections embedded below, each of which has a slightly different angle on its meaning, and the meaning of the Season of Lent. A sixth Reflection, which I’ll mention at the bottom of this posting, was shared in the sermon at both Services.

photo-jan20richardsonThe image at the top of this posting was on our screens at our 9:30 a.m. Ash Wednesday Service. It’s inspired by the poem “Blessing the Dust: A Blessing for Ash Wednesday,” by Jan Richardson, which I read as part of the sermon in the morning and the evening.

ashwednesdaydesertsands

Reflections, Images, and Videos for Transfiguration Sunday, February 26

feb-26-background2

crxs01At our 8:30 and 10 a.m. Services on February 26, we celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord – the last Sunday after Epiphany and the last Sunday before Lent. Our Services had the focus of both Seasons. We witnessed the manifestation of the glory of Our Lord as the beloved Son of God, and of his infinite love, shown by his pouring himself out for us on the Cross for us; and reflected on our own identity as beloved children of God who manifest his glory as we allow love’s light to shine through us. 

Embedded below are the videos we watched before our 10 a.m. Service to prepare for worship.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Embedded below is the Gospel passage that we read at our 8:30 and 10 a.m. Services.

[Here’s an adapted version of the reflection that I shared after this was read.]

This past week I saw this item on the News.

This reminded me of the emotions my wife and I struggled with before our daughter’s birth. She was due March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, very appropriate for a mother who’s name is Patricia Gail! We had a 90 minute drive to the Hospital, cross country in central Alberta, in the month of March. We were worried about the possibility of a blizzard, or Gail’s giving birth on the way to the Hospital, as happened in the above video.

10498556_10152335685776847_5823188927878223209_oOn March 2, Gail packed her suitcase for the hospital, just in case. And then that very night, 2 weeks early, Gail’s labour pains began. We tried to sleep, but finally, around 3 a.m. we decided to go to the Hospital. On the way, Gail’s labour pains slowed down, and we thought the doctor might say Gail was having was false labour. Actually, we both hoped the doctor would say this! There was the desire to keep things the way they were for just a little longer, the fear that we weren’t ready for what was about to happen. It was like the feeling you have starting a ride down roller coaster: once you start, you know there’s no stopping! We were told: No – a little person wanted to be born that day. This year, on March 3, we’re celebrating the 25th birthday of our beloved daughter, Alyssa, with whom we’re delighted.

We’re looking at a different kind of birthing today – but one bringing with it the same fears and same joys.

Today is the Last Sunday after Epiphany, the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus. In the Season of Epiphany, the focus is the revealing of Jesus’ glory as the Light of the world. In Lent, the focus on God’s love as revealed in the mystery of the Cross. We see both here.

Verse 1 begins:  “Six days later.” Such specific time designation is rare in the Synoptics outside of the Passion narrative. It connects the present passage with what has just taken place. And what happened just before this was a turning point in Jesus’ time with the disciples.  

i-amIn Matthew 16, Jesus asked, “Who do people say that I am?” Peter replied: “You are the Messiah.” Jesus affirmed this answer, but then started to reveal what kind of Messiah he was: “From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Peter tried to say No: “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But Jesus rebuked him and told all the disciples that they, too, were called to choose the way of the Cross – but that it was the way not of death but life: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

Christ carrying cross up Calvary on Good Friday over dark and stormy sky

Jesus concluded by speaking of himself as the “Son of Man,” who would come in the glory of the Father, and promised: “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Six days after all this happened, the incident described in today’s Gospel Reading took place!

Verse 1 continues: “Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.” We see here the intimacy of Jesus with these three. Ulrich Luz comments that they’re “present at this, the high point, and Gethsemane, the low point, of the story of Jesus.”

Verse 2 adds: “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.

slide_butterfly1The Greek word translated “transfigured” is metamorphoo. It meansto change into another form,” “a change in outward appearance from a change within.” (Think of “metamorphosis.”) We mustn’t pass by without being struck by the awesomeness of this! Jesus is not shining like the moon by reflecting light. No: like the sun, he’s generating light! The 3 disciples witness a foretaste of the Resurrection, the Kingdom coming with power, as Jesus had promised them.

Verse 3 then says: “Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.” And they’re not just talking about the weather! They’re not talking about their own actions. Luke 9:31 says: “Moses and Elijah appeared in glory and were speaking of Jesus’ departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” The word translated “departure” is actually exodus. They’re discussing the “Exodus” Jesus was about to accomplish in Jerusalem, how he was going to deliver and set free people in bondage through his death on the Cross.

jesus_transfiguration

Verse 4 continues: “Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.'” Luke 9:33 tells us that Peter said this: “Just as they [Moses and Elijah] were leaving him.” Remember what Jesus, Moses, and Elijah are discussing: the Cross, exactly what Peter had tried to avoid talking about – indeed, what he had tried to rebuke Jesus for talking about earlier. 

Peter responds, saying, “Can’t we just stay here?!” Munachi Ezeogu wrote: “We tend to think that when Peter said, ‘It is good for us to be here’ he was thinking about the beauty of the place. But Peter was probably thinking not of the beauty of the mountain top but its safety for his master.” And himself. Peter asks: “Can’t we just freeze frame this – stay here on the mountain top and avoid the challenges to come?!” According to Mark’s Gospel, “He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.” 

Peter is overwhelmed with fear. But, remember the context! Peter is actually trying to prevent his own redemption – the Exodus, the Deliverance, Jesus is going to accomplish! Like Gail and I 25 years ago, he’s trying to delay or avoid the life that’s to be born.

Verse 5 then says: “While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!'” (The “bright cloud” reminds us of the stories of the Shekinah Glory as it appeared to the people of Israel in the Wilderness, Tabernacle, and Temple.)

maxresdefault

These words spoken by the Father are a repeat of the words the Father spoke at Jesus’ Baptism. King and Suffering Servant – from Psalm 2 and Isaiah 42 – are combined, plus the words “Son whom I love” – possibly an echo of Genesis 22.

R. T. France comments on the words translated “with him I am well pleased:” “[The Greek phrase is] an expression of warm approval and love; it expresses a settled opinion rather than a temporary pleasure.” I like translating this “with whom I’m delighted.” The Father is here expressing the delight of a parent in their child. One friend used to paraphrase the Father’s words as That’s my boy!”

The Father is affirming the Son, just as he did at his Baptism – when Jesus chose to identify himself with us, and walk the road on which, he has just before this told his disciples he’s still walking – the way that leads to the Cross. The words are identical – with the addition at the end (perhaps an allusion to Deuteronomy 18:15) of “Listen to him!” 

How easy it is for miscommunication to occur, as these commercials remind us.

Misunderstandings happen so easily at the best of times!

But even more so when you’re afraid of what the person is trying to communicate to you. When Jesus tried to tell his disciples about the upcoming cross, and about their own calling to take up their own crosses, the disciples didn’t want to hear what Jesus was saying to them.

ac5cba5df1a44679191058021b4b2886Verses 6-7 give the disciples’ reaction and Jesus’ response: “When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.'”

The disciples were overcome by fear: fear of change, suffering, and – most of all – death moved them to be afraid of growth, to desire to keep things the same.

I think that we can all relate to this – as individuals and as a Parish. At our Parish Council Focus Day on February 28, we looked at ways the Holy Spirit is moving us past our comfort zones to be a church that is welcoming, inviting, and missional – to be poured out in love, as we’ve been created to be. It can be overwhelming, frightening.

13643794Jesus understands. “Listen to him”, the disciples are told. And the first words Jesus says are, “Get up and do not be (in the Greek, it’s actually “stop being”) afraid.” He speaks words of encouragement to them. He touches them.

Verse 8 continues: “And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.” (The way “alone” is placed as the last word in Greek emphasizes it.)

They don’t see all three any more. One thing only is important. Jesus is all we need – not Jesus plus anything. He has all the grace we need. As it says in the song: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face”, and all anxieties and fears melt away.

“Listen to him” is a call to relationship of intimacy with Jesus. After this passage, Jesus and the disciples will be descending the mountain to immediate noise and need – to the Cross itself.

download

I remember stumbling a few years ago across a website called “escapereality.com,” which began its “About Us” section with the words: “Escape from reality to travel the world.” I think this is how Peter was viewing this time on the mountain – and why he wanted it to keep on going. But this intimate time with Jesus was not to help the disciples escape reality, but to equip them to face it. 

Jesus gave the disciples time away. He gives us them, too. But the promise is for a walk of intimate fellowship with him that can exist and continue in the midst of the world – of reality – the way it is. Our days are not to consist in taking in a few gulps of fresh air, and the rest of the time having to hold our breath! Our lives aren’t meant to have a sense of God’s Presence in Quiet Time devotions or Retreats, but then no sense of God once this peace and quiet is disturbed.  

We’re to walk with him, and listen to him – even though and when it’s hard. And even though we are afraid, to continue to follow.

heartAs we do, we too will be transfigured.

Becoming who we are called to be, as individuals, as a Parish, can be frightening, painful – we may not want to listen. Growth is painful. But the way of transformation is the way of the Cross – the way of new life, is the way of death. We go through Good Friday to get to Easter. With Jesus’ life inside us,  Jesus’ love is formed within us.

“Changed from glory into glory, till at last we see thy face, till we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love, and praise …” This is our destiny!

With our Baptism, we begin a journey in which we walk into the unknown. But we don’t need to be afraid, for the One whose glory outshines the sun is travelling with us. He went to the Cross to share his life with us, so that, buried with him in our Baptisms, we may rise in his life for evermore, and hear the words that were spoken to him, spoken to us as well: “You are my beloved child. With you I’m delighted.” May we not be afraid of the life God has for us, the life to be birthed in and through us. Amen. 

I invite us to spend the next few minutes in reflection, as we listen to a song about the deep mystery of this birthing, the breaking open of the heart by love that brings about life, “All at Once,” performed by Phil Keaggy.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

triple-c-serviceOur 10 a.m. Holy Eucharist was a Triple C Service (“Christ-centred, Creative, and Compact). Reflecting the “Creative” portion of the Triple C,  many parts of the Liturgy were different from our usual Sunday Services. One such place was this Transfiguration Sunday Affirmation of Faith, which we said together after the Reflection.

 affirmation-1affirmation-2affirmation-3

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We left our 10 a.m. Service with the following music sending us forth into the world to shine with the light of Our Lord’s love. In the final piece, the choir sings forth our last “Alleluias” until the Great Vigil of Easter.

Reflections, Images, and Videos for February 19

feb-19

heart-1-gifIn keeping with February 19 being in the middle of Family Day Weekend, our 8:30 and 10 a.m. Services at St. Paul’s had the theme of so loving others that we have an embrace as wide as Our Lord’s on the Cross to welcome everyone as part of the family. Here, embedded immediately below, are the videos we watched before our 10 a.m. Service to prepare for worship.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This welcoming of all was made explicit with our singing “Part of the Family” to open both our 8:30 and 10:00 Services. Here’s a video of a congregation singing this hymn.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here’s the Gospel passage we read at our 8:30 and 10 a.m. Services.

Here’s a Homily on this passage plus the Old Testament Reading for February 19.

black-history-monthFebruary is Black History Month in Canada. In honour of this, here are 2 sermons by the Rev’d Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jesus’ teaching in our Gospel Reading to love our enemies, followed by the U2 tribute song to Martin Luther King, “Pride (In the Name of Love)”.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We left our 10 a.m. Service with the following music sending us forth to shine in the world with the light of Our Lord’s love.

u5dtdbpd16uezohd5jsyn97xyq7lnz4_1680x8400The image at the top of this posting is a mural by the famous graffiti artist Banksy on a building in Clacton-on-Sea, England. Ironically, the local District Council, which didn’t know the artwork was by Banksy, removed the mural from the building after it received a complaint that the painting was “offensive” and “racist”.

Reflections, Images, and Videos for February 12 and 14

feb-12-for-blog

mamaAt our 8:30 and 10 a.m. Services on February 12, right in time for Valentine’s Day, we explored the difference it makes for our lives and the lives of others when the light of Our Lord’s love shines within us. The videos we watched before our 10 a.m. Service invited us to come aside from the hectic pace of our daily lives, to spend time in stillness basking in the light of our Beloved’s Presence. Here they are, embedded immediately below.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

heart-gold2In a Valentine’s Day Children’s Talk at our 10 a.m. Service, Keith Daye (who is a High School English teacher) explained to our children what symbols are, and then discussed with them what crosses symbolize – how whenever we see a cross, we think of God’s love.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here, embedded immediately below, is the Gospel Reading at our 8:30 and 10 a.m. Services. 

Here, embedded below, is a brief reflection by Fr. Bob Gross on this passage.

Here’s a video by the Skit Guys on living out Jesus’ call to love in our Marriages. It’s especially directed to husbands who struggle with being “romantically challenged” on Valentine’s Day and the other 364 days of the year.

At our 10 a.m. Service, our Offertory Hymn expressed our commitment to give of ourselves to others in love.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As we left our 10 a.m. Service, the following videos reminded us of our mission as members of St. Paul’s to embody, in all that we say and do, God’s limitless love for the world.

christian-valentine-craft