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Reflections, Images, and Videos from Our September 25 Morning Services

September 27, 2016

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Embedded immediately below is the video we showed to lead us in our second hymn at the 8:30 a.m. Service last Sunday. This hymn, and the other two hymns we sang, are all favourites of our dear brother Sydney Chilton, who’s recently moved to the Chinook Hospice. As we sang them, Sydney, Mary, and the family were all especially in our thoughts and prayers.

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Immediately below are the 4 videos we watched before our 10 a.m. Service to help prepare us for worship. They reflected our celebration Sunday morning of the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels.

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We began our 10 a.m. Service with the following video that helped us be aware of our living God’s Presence with us. 

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[Embedded below is an adapted version of the last part of my Homily at both Services.]

All of us live such busy, crazy lives! And when we look around us at the world, we see such darkness: global terrorism, violence in so many places. And we know that we have this infection of evil in our own hearts, too. The darkness can seem so strong.

It’s a struggle to keep sight of God in the midst of a world like this.

83c224aff2ffd32e9d161634f7b59b2fIn the midst of this struggle, one way the Church has helped us through the centuries to do this is the observance of today’s Feast of St. Michael and All Angels.

It’s encouraged us to open our eyes to the unseen, to encounter the wonder from that which is more and beyond.

In Holy Scripture the Archangel Michael leads God’s army of angels fighting for us … I’m reminded of how Matthew 28:4 says that even one angel made the Roman guards, who had seemed to have so much power at Our Lord’s crucifixion, “like dead men” out of fear, and then how Jesus said he in Matthew 26:53 that he could ask the Father who would send more than 72,000 angels (the rough number of “more than twelve legions”)!

Holy Scripture gives us but a glimpse at supernatural world so beyond our little thoughts, for we’re not told the angels’ story, but ours. But there should be no question in our minds about where true power lies!

saint-michel-archange-de-kiev-croppedIn fact, the Church deliberately picked a date for this Feast when the increasing darkness outside in nature was evident to Proclaim this truth, that in the battle between light and darkness, good and evil, death and life, love and hate, darkness, evil, death, and hate may seem so strong, but light, good, life, and love are stronger.

The word “angel” also has a wider application. “Angel” means messenger . So we could call this Feast the Feast of St. Michael and all messengers – including all of us! God is with us and within us, and wants to include us as participants in the battle, as those who spread God’s light.

This next video shows an example of some people who are doing this in one of the darkest places on earth.

The number of White Helmets working in Syria has now reached almost 3,000. It’s estimated that they’ve saved 60,000 lives! One headline about the White Helmets reads: “Syria’s ‘White Helmets’: Angels on the Front Line.” “Surely God is in this place!” as the picture on the top of this posting says – for we see God present, working through these people!

The news on August 12 of this year reminded us of the depth and strength of the darkness the White Helmets are combating. 

In 2014, Khaled said of his work: “For me, this is the real jihad. If I die saving lives, I think God would definitely consider me a martyr.”

The darkness is deep. But I disagree with the CNN Reporter’s words that Khaled, “leaves behind … a legacy that is a glimmer of light against the darkness of war.” I think that it’s not a glimmer – it’s a blaze of light that shines forth.

jn-1-5aFor he followed the path of the One who took all that death and darkness can give forth upon the Cross, to give us life and light that will last for ever.

Not just in sunsets and flowers, this One is with us, but in the darkest places of existence, walking beside us on nail-pierced feet.

Yes, the darkness is deep. But the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will never, ever be able to put it out. Life is victorious over death. Love is stronger than hate.

And not just as spectators of this battle are we living. We at St. Paul’s are in no less a war zone than the White Helmets. We’re to pray and work for peace with all our might. We’re to do what we can to alleviate suffering, including sponsoring a Syrian refugee family. Also, we’re to give ourselves to fighting our own battle with evil inside of us. And all the people we meet are engaged in their own struggle with evil within, and the darkness of fear, pain, and death. All of us at St. Paul’s are called to be angels – messengers – of light, shining forth as beacons of hope and healing.

stainedglass7St. Paul’s is to be a Sanctuary – a place where people can come and experience heaven come down to earth, heaven and earth touching through Jesus; can experience the supernatural; can know love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and transformation –  giving strength and courage from the life of Jesus within.

St. Paul’s is to be a Parish where we connect with our God, so that “Surely the Lord is in this place!” is our song of joy at the fellowship with God we know in the depths of our hearts. St. Paul’s is to be a Parish where we connect with one another, and develop friendships, so that we don’t try to live out the call to be God’s messengers alone.

Our Sunday Services are to be times for us to encounter the living God, to “plug in, and be recharged” – filled and refilled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. And then, when filled, to be sent out as disciples who so embody the message of Good News that “Surely the Lord is in this place!” is the thankful cry from all we encounter, wherever we go, in this broken and hurting world God so loves. 

May this high calling be fulfilled in us all. Amen.

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[The 2 images immediately above are from our End of Summer BBQ on September 10, in which we embodied the Good News by connecting with our community for an evening of free fun, food, and fellowship!]

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I discuss the Genesis 28 and John 1 passages from Holy Scripture we read on Sunday in my October 10, 2012 posting entitled “A Reflection on Jesus and Jacob’s Ladder.”

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As we left the Sanctuary at the end of our 10 a.m. Service, the following song was playing on our screens – encouraging us to go forth to be visible signs of the Presence of the unseen God who is with us in each and every place, now and for ever.

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