St. Johns Street Car-Free on August 20

St. Johns Street Car-Free on August 20

On this coming Sunday, the City of Port Moody is hosting a “Car-Free Day”.  St. Johns Street is closed to all vehicle traffic between Moody and Douglas streets from 6 am to 10 pm.  Street parking on surrounding roads will be extremely limited.  The parking lot for the church will be accessible from Douglas and Elgin streets along the lane.  However, this is a great day to consider carpooling with another parishioner in your area!  Team up and save on spaces.  The following map was published by the City:

The E-postle August 13, 2017

 

 

“The Parish of St. John the Apostle is called to be

*          A Spirited Community at the heart of Port Moody

*          transformed through the experience of the presence of Christ

*          and sent out to share God’s Love”

– mission statement

What is Orange Shirt Day?

image credit to Andy Everson

 

Orange Shirt Day is celebrated on September 30.  Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in the spring of 2013.  It grew out of the experience of a little girl named Phyllis having her shiny new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at the Mission, and it has become an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools happening annually.

The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year.  It also gives teachers time to plan events that will include children, as we want to ensure that we are passing the story and learning on to the next generations.  Orange Shirt Day is also an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.  (from www.orangeshirtday.org )

 This year, wear an orange shirt on September 30 wherever you are.  You are invited to also wear it on Sunday October 1 so we may remember as a faith community to stand in solidarity with people of all races who desire to raise children with hope.  Those interested in purchasing a special 2017 “Every Child Matters” orange shirt, please speak to deacon Trudi.

 

Yours in Christ, Stephanie+

Upcoming Dates

August 14-1:30-3 pm, Seniors’ Tea in the hall.  Bring a friend or neighbour and beat the heat.

August 28- 7 pm, Parish Council in the PMC. All are welcome to attend

September 10- after 10 am service, “Back to Church” Parish Picnic

September 24- beginning 9:30 am, Walk for Reconciliation at Queen Elizabeth Plaza

September 30- Orange Shirt Day

November 4- Fall Bazaar

 

Stewardship Reflection
“Jesus said to him, if you are able?! All things can be done for the one who believes”

 Mark9:23

Do we sometimes think too small when we imagine what we can do for God?

How can we apply this to our stewardship at St. Johns?

Hats On for the Seniors’ Tea

A selection of beautiful ladies’ hats will be available for viewing and sale after this Sunday’s 10 am service.  Buy one and wear it to the Seniors’ Tea on Monday.  Or perhaps there is a summer garden party or wedding still on your calendar?  For more information, contact Sue Elliott.

Education for Ministry

A reminder that if you are being called to enroll in EfM, please contact Anne Anchor at  a.anchor@telus.net

 Summer Program for Young People

Children are invited to explore stories and activities during part of the 10 am service with Ts’uwtun, our helper bear.  This week’s First People’s Principle of Learning is “Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story”.  The animal chosen for this week is the raven.

Fall Bazaar Planning

A coordinator is needed to make the Fall Bazaar Saturday November 4 a rousing success as a fundraiser and community event. Mentorship and support will be provided.  Please contact Ferne Malcolme.

Prayer Cycle

In the Anglican Communion- Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby; Primate of Canada Fred Hiltz; BC & Yukon Archbishop John Privett; our partner Diocese of Northern Philippines, Bishop Brent Alawas, and especially the people of our twin church at St. Johns Mission, Bila, Mountain Province; Diocese of New Westminster Bishop Melissa Skelton, and this week:

St. Mary, Kerrisdale and The Reverend Christine Rowe, The Reverend Liz Ruder-Celiz

St. Mary the Virgin, South Hill and The Reverend Expedito Farinas

St. Mary the Virgin, Sapperton and The Reverend Armin Amayag

Remo – (Lagos, Nigeria) and The Rt Revd Michael Fape

The Canadian Council of the North- Bishop Michael Hawkins, Chair, Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, Vice-Chair and all the members of
the Council as they work towards a vision of structures shaped by mission.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada- National Bishop Susan Johnson, BC Synod Bishop Greg Mohr;

The brothers and sisters who share our worship space: The Port Moody Korean Presbyterian Church and the Polish Evangelical Church.

Readings for Pentecost 11, August 20, 2017 

Genesis 45:1-15; Romans 11:1-2a and 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28

Important Contact Information

Interim Priest– The Rev. Stephanie Shepard rev.seshepard@gmail.com or 778-773-6816

Parish Office– Karen Evans stjohn7@shaw.ca or 604-936-7762

Wardens– Geri Grigg gerigrigg@gmail.com Terry Walton terry&joanne_walton@telus.net

Maureen Simons mesimons@telus.net or through the parish office

Treasurer– Chelsea Belyk chelsea.belyk@gmail.com

Parish Council– Adelaine Miller, Secretary adelainemiller@shaw.ca

Altar Guild– Brenda Binns Brenda.Binns@hotmail.com

St. John Prayer Circle– Sue Ellliott Elliott.sue1@gmail.com

Pastoral Visiting Ministry– Joanne Walton terry&joanne_walton@telus.net

or Alma Oldenburg almaolden@hotmail.com

Anglican Church Women (ACW)- Sue Hall 604-936-0176 sbhcat@hotmail.com

The E-postle

July 30, 2017

 

“The Parish of St. John the Apostle is called to be

*          A Spirited Community at the heart of Port Moody

*          transformed through the experience of the      presence of Christ

*          and sent out to share God’s Love”

– mission statement

Sacred Music

Last Sunday, July 23, everyone in the congregation that was present got to choose their favourite hymn.  We selected a few to sing during the service.  What we sing reflects what we believe.  Music in liturgy has an important role to play in expressing our faith, reinforcing the teaching of Christ, and challenging our assumptions about how God works in the world. Interestingly, the songs chosen reflect what the members of this community hold dear.

The top five hymns chosen were “All Things Bright and Beautiful”, “Morning Has Broken”, “Be Thou My Vision”, “Come and Journey”, and “Holy, Holy, Holy”.  Many of the submissions had themes of praise and trust in God.  Interestingly, there were fewer choices that centre on sharing one’s faith, outreach, and mission.  These are areas that challenge us to move from our comfort zones (even in singing) and express solidarity with God’s mission and goals.

In our life together in community, we try to have a balance of old and new songs, personal and corporate expressions, joyful outpourings and lament.  The worship group will try and incorporate the hymns you suggested into the coming weeks.  As you rejoice in some and struggle with others, remember that they carry the hopes and prayers of others in our parish.  And when a new hymn comes on a Sunday morning, you are encouraged to try it to hear what God is calling out of you.  Be an active participant in the liturgy and “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” as the psalmist tells us (even if it is not necessarily a tuneful one!).

Yours in Christ,

Stephanie+

Upcoming Dates

July 30- 12:30 pm, Fawcett-Fennell Wedding

August 6- 8:30 am and 10 am, guest preacher the Rev. Michael Chin

August 28- 7 pm, Parish Council. All are welcome to attend

September 10- after 10 am service, “Back to Church” Parish Picnic

September 18- 1:30 pm, Seniors’ Tea

Stewardship Reflection
This week we hear part of the story of Jacob from Genesis 29.  When Jacob goes to work for his kinsman Laban, his uncle asks him “Tell me, what shall your wages be?”

Jacob decides to labour seven years for the hand of Rachel in marriage.  What effort are we willing to put in to make our goal a reality?  How can we maintain our persistence over the long haul?

Summer Program for Young People

Children are invited to explore stories and activities during part of the 10 am service with Ts’uwtun, our helper bear.  This week’s First People’s Principle of Learning is “learning involves generational roles and responsibilities”.  The animal chosen for this week is the sea lion, which represents the wisdom and value of the elders in community.

 BC Wildfire Response through PWRDF

PWRDF is sending an initial grant of $5,000 to the Territory of the People to support their ongoing immediate relief efforts. These funds, along with $5,000 approved from the Diocese, will augment ongoing relief expenses.  Bishop Barbara Andrews has appointed the Right Reverend Gordon Light (retired) to liaise with PWRDF and oversee disbursed funds. The Diocesan grant is paying for food vouchers, toiletries, bus fare, clothing etc., whatever is of practical help, writes Bishop Light in an email to PWRDF.  Bishop Light writes that the $5,000 grant from PWRDF will help support these immediate needs, but notes that in the longer term, funds may also be required to support post-trauma assistance. “And there may be specific projects that we can identify that would assist people/communities in which there has been loss of homes or facilities.”

PWRDF encourages donations to its emergency fund which will be used to support needs in British Columbia. Donations can be made via credit card over the phone (toll free at 1-866-308-7973), or online at our Canada Helps page at pwrdf.org/donate. Choose Emergency Response from the drop down menu.  You can also mail a cheque to The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, The Anglican Church of Canada, 80 Hayden Street, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 3G2. Please note “Emergency Response” on your cheque.

 First Nations 101 Book Study

First Nations 101 is an easy to read primer that provides readers with a broad overview of the diverse and complex lives of First Nations people. It is packed with more than 70 subjects including education, youth, child welfare, urbanization, appropriate questions to ask a First Nations person, feminism, the medicine wheel, Two-spirit (LGBTQ), residential schools, the land bridge theory, and language preservation. Author Lynda Gray endeavours to leave readers with a better understanding of the shared history of First Nations and non-First Nations people, and ultimately calls upon all of us – individuals, communities, and governments – to play active roles in bringing about true reconciliation between First Nations and non-First Nations people.

Those interested in joining a book study on First Nations 101 in the fall can speak to one of the clergy or contact the parish office.

There is now a signup sheet on the parish news board in the hall, so please mark your availability and a time will be picked to accommodate as many as possible to attend.

Opportunity to Volunteer with the Mission to Seafarers

The Rev. Peter Smyth, senior chaplain at the Mission to Seafarers, is looking for Anglicans to volunteer as visitors to the ships who come into berth here in Port Moody.  Excellent training is provided.  There is a write-up coming in the September issue of TOPIC, but if you are interested you may contact Peter at vanchaplain.missiontoseafarers@gmail.com or phone the Flying Angels Club at 604-253-4421.

Prayer Cycle

In the Anglican Communion- Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby; Primate of Canada Fred Hiltz; BC & Yukon Archbishop John Privett; our partner Diocese of Northern Philippines, Bishop Brent Alawas, and especially the people of our twin church at St. Johns Mission, Bila, Mountain Province; Diocese of New Westminster Bishop Melissa Skelton, and this week:

St. Oswald, Port Kells – The Reverend Gordon Shields

The Anglican Church Women, Diocese of New Westminster – Margaret Warwick (Chair)

The Diocese of Pennsylvania – (The Episcopal Church), The Rt. Rev. Daniel Gutierrez

The Diocese of Pittsburgh – (The Episcopal Church), The Rt. Rev. Dorsey W M McConnell

The Diocese of Saskachewan (Council of the North)-  the Rt. Rev. Michael Hawkins,

Indigenous Bishop Adam Halkett;

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada- National Bishop Susan Johnson,

BC Synod Bishop Greg Mohr;

The brothers and sisters who share our worship space: The Port Moody Korean

Presbyterian Church and the Polish Evangelical Church.

Readings for Pentecost 9/Transfiguration, August 6, 2017 

Daniel 7:9-10, and 13-14; 2 Peter 1:16-19;  Luke 9:28-36

Important Contact Information

Interim Priest– The Rev. Stephanie Shepard rev.seshepard@gmail.com or 778-773-6816

Parish Office– Karen Evans stjohn7@shaw.ca or 604-936-7762

Wardens– Geri Grigg gerigrigg@gmail.com Terry Walton terry&joanne_walton@telus.net

Maureen Simons mesimons@telus.net or through the parish office

Treasurer– Chelsea Belyk chelsea.belyk@gmail.com

Parish Council– Adelaine Miller, Secretary adelainemiller@shaw.ca

St. John Prayer Circle– Sue Ellliott Elliott.sue1@gmail.com

Pastoral Visiting Ministry– Joanne Walton terry&joanne_walton@telus.net

or Alma Oldenburg almaolden@hotmail.com

Anglican Church Women (ACW)- Sue Hall 604-936-0176 sbhcat@hotmail.com

PWRDF DONATIONS FOR BC WILDFIRE RELIEF

PWRDF encourages donations to its emergency fund which will be used to support needs in British Columbia. Donations can be made via credit card over the phone (toll free at 1-866-308-7973), or online at our Canada Helps page at pwrdf.org/donate. Choose Emergency Response from the drop down menu.

You can also mail a cheque to The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, The Anglican Church of Canada, 80 Hayden Street, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 3G2. Please note “Emergency Response” on your cheque.

The Epostle – July, 23rd, 2017

The E-postle

July 23, 2017

 “The Parish of St. John the Apostle is called to be

*          A Spirited Community at the heart of Port Moody

*          transformed through the experience of the presence of Christ

*          and sent out to share God’s Love”

– mission statement

Education for Ministry (aka EfM) for Fall 2017

As we study more of our scripture and our tradition, we work towards developing and creating a faith that means most to us.  Study is not about denying what was said in the past but about learning how God’s message from the past impacts our actions now and in the future.

In a recent posting in his daily reflection Richard Rohr wrote …“transformation does not mean simply acquiring a new set of beliefs, but becoming a new person, a person in communion with God and others through Jesus Christ. It is in that moment that we can love each other unconditionally, not to get something in return, but because we are all held together in the love of God.”

The EfM program offers a chance for us to transform ourselves into being all that God wants us to be and to be bearers of God’s love with all of creation.

The theme for each year of study is

Year A  “Living Faithfully in Your World”

Year B  “Living Faithfully in the Global Village”

Year C  “Living as Spiritually Mature Christians”

Year D  “Our Journey into God”.

The EfM curriculum has been recently updated. Some of the study materials over the four years are:

Hebrew Scripture (Year A); Christian Testament (Year B); ‘The First Three Thousand Years of Christianity’ (Diarmaid MacCulloch) (Year C); ‘Theology: A Very Short Introduction’ (David Ford),  ‘Mysteries of Faith’ (Mark McIntosh), ‘The Christian Moral Life: Practices of Piety’ (Timothy F. Sedgwick), ‘My Neighbor’s Faith’ (Jennifer Howe Peace, Or N. Rose, and Gregory Mobley, eds) (Year D).

To help us reflect theologically on the world we will also be reading this year ‘Fighting with the Bible: Why Scripture Divides us and How it Can Bring us Together’ (Donn Morgan) and ‘The Dream of God: A Call to Return’ (Verna Dozie).

There is a display of the books we have read over the years in the Narthex and a sign-up sheet for those who wish to be contacted about participating. The Mentors are Debora Jones-Akiyama and Deacon Anne Anchor who are required each year to attend a refresher training session. This program is strongly supported by Bishop Melissa Skelton who has been a student and mentor in the past. The Deanery has had a group running yearly since 1998 and we have many graduates from EfM who are members of St. John’s.

We meet Wednesday evenings at 6:45–9:15 pm, September to May, with breaks for Christmas and Holy Week.  Please contact Anne Anchor at a.anchor@telus.net if you would like to sign up.

Summer Program for Young People

Children are invited to explore stories and activities during part of the 10 am service with Ts’uwtun, our helper bear.  This week’s First People’s Principle of Learning is “learning involves recognizing the consequences of one’s actions”.  The symbol chosen for this week is the Salmon.  It represents determination and persistence in its return home from the sea, as well as abundance and prosperity because it is a principal food source for First Nations peoples.  The salmon life cycle also reminds us of the renewal of life, and how we are responsible for the future as well as the present.

image sourced from Heisla-Heiltsuk artist Mervin Winsor, courtesy of First Nations Squamish Lilwat Cultural Centre

 

Upcoming Dates

July 23- “Hymns from a Hat” Sunday

July 26- 9:30 onwards, Coffee & Crafts in the hall

July 29- 1:30 pm, Vegt-Easton Wedding

July 30- 12:30 pm, Fawcett-Fennell Wedding

September 10- after 10 am service, “Back to Church” Parish Picnic

 

Stewardship Reflection
Do we put God first in our lives? The Bible gives us a guide for our giving in the tithe, which means one tenth, or 10%.  What might be the standard in your community? Is there room for you to grow your proportion? Consider a personal goal of 5% to the parish and diocesan outreach and 5% to favorite charities.  – from Glen Mitchell

 

Interim Working Group

The interim working group met on Monday July 10 to begin dividing up the work of preparing for the writing of a parish profile by researching what we know about our community and what we still need to discern.  A survey is being prepared for all parishioners, especially those who have not had the opportunity to engage in the larger group processes.  Hopefully this will be distributed by email soon and taken out to all who do not have the means to reply electronically.

 

3030 Gordon House

The ongoing outreach through 3030 Gordon is looking for donations of new/gently used socks and new underwear to distribute to those in need.  For more information, speak to Mary-Lou Kyle or Ruby Ng.

 

First Nations 101 Book Study

“This is a book I wish I had as a professor of Native Studies.  It is a book I wish I had written.”

-Dr. Martin Brokenleg

 

First Nations 101 is an easy to read primer that provides readers with a broad overview of the diverse and complex lives of First Nations people. It is packed with more than 70 subjects including education, youth, child welfare, urbanization, appropriate questions to ask a First Nations person, feminism, the medicine wheel, Two-spirit (LGBTQ), residential schools, the land bridge theory, and language preservation. Author Lynda Gray endeavours to leave readers with a better understanding of the shared history of First Nations and non-First Nations people, and ultimately calls upon all of us – individuals, communities, and governments – to play active roles in bringing about true reconciliation between First Nations and non-First Nations people.

Those interested in joining a book study on First Nations 101 in the fall are asked to speak to one of the clergy or contact the parish office.  Day or evening sessions will be decided to accommodate the most participants.

Prayer Cycle

In the Anglican Communion- Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby; Primate of Canada Fred Hiltz; BC & Yukon Archbishop John Privett; our partner Diocese of Northern Philippines, Bishop Brent Alawas, and especially the people of our twin church at St. Johns Mission, Bila, Mountain Province; Diocese of New Westminster Bishop Melissa Skelton, and this week:         Osun North East Diocese (Ibadan, Nigeria) – The Rt Revd Humphery Olumakaiye;Diocese of Saskachewan (Council of the North)-  the Rt. Rev. Michael Hawkins, Indigenous Bishop Adam Halkett; St. Christopher, West Vancouver –beginning interim ministry with the Rev. Karen Urquhart;   St. Anne, Steveston – The Rev. Brian Vickers, The Rev. Mark Munn The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada- National Bishop Susan Johnson, BC Synod Bishop Greg Mohr;The brothers and sisters who share our worship space: The Port Moody Korean Presbyterian Church and the Polish Evangelical Church.

Readings for Pentecost 8:  July 30, 2017 

Genesis 29:15-28; Romans 8:26-39; Matthew 13:31-33 and 44-52

 Important Contact Information

Interim Priest– The Rev. Stephanie Shepard rev.seshepard@gmail.com or 778-773-6816

Parish Office– Karen Evans stjohn7@shaw.ca or 604-936-7762

Wardens– Geri Grigg gerigrigg@gmail.com Terry Walton terry&joanne_walton@telus.net

Maureen Simons mesimons@telus.net or through the parish office

Treasurer– Chelsea Belyk chelsea.belyk@gmail.com

Parish Council– Adelaine Miller, Secretary adelainemiller@shaw.ca

St. John Prayer Circle– contact Joan Scott until July 25 at Joan.Scott@hotmail.com

Pastoral Visiting Ministry– Joanne Walton terry&joanne_walton@telus.net

or Alma Oldenburg almaolden@hotmail.com

Anglican Church Women (ACW)- Sue Hall 604-936-0176 sbhcat@hotmail.com

The E-postle July 16, 2017

 

 

Summer for the children

Last week we introduced the learning topic during the summer for the children, during the readings and homily.

They will be learning the ‘First People’s Principles of Learning’ The First Principle for last week was….

     ‘Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits and the ancestors’ and the image selected for this was the whale. Each principle is also a reflection of what they learn in Godly Play about God and Jesus.

A First Nations bear puppet, that we have named Ts’owton and means helper in Strait Salish, will be the leader to the class and return to the liturgy

This week the children will be introduced to the Second Principle….

Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (Focused on             connectedness, on reciprocal relationships and a sense of place).

 

The symbol chosen for this is the wolf.

These summer  sessions have been prepared by Christina Anchor and Deacon Anne.  

“The Parish of St. John the Apostle is called to be

*          A Spirited Community at the heart of Port Moody

*          transformed through the experience of the presence of Christ

*          and sent out to share God’s Love”

– mission statement

 

Yours in Christ,

Stephanie+

 

Upcoming Dates

July 16- guest preacher and presider the Rev. Peter Smythe, Mission to Seafarers

July 17- 7:30-9 pm, Beer & Bible at the Parkside Brewery, 2731 Murray Street, Port Moody

July 23- “Hymns from a Hat” Sunday

July 26- 9:30 onwards, Coffee & Crafts in the hall

 

Stewardship Reflection
Do we put God First in our lives?

Financial resources and their proper use are a popular theme in the Bible.We are expected to make informed and appropriate decisions about our resources. What do we now have? What do we now give away? How might we be encouraged to take a step in faith beyond that and gradually increase giving to 1 %, 2 % or 3 % of income until a definition of a tithe is achieved? Glen Mittchell

 Prayer Cycle

In the Anglican Communion- Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby; Primate of Canada Fred Hiltz; BC & Yukon Archbishop John Privett; our partner Diocese of Northern Philippines, Bishop Brent Alawas, and especially the people of our twin church at St. Johns Mission, Bila, Mountain Province;

Diocese of New Westminster Bishop Melissa Skelton, and this week:

St. Mary Magdalene, Vancouver – The Reverend John Marsh

The Deanery of Kingsway, The Reverend Heidi Brear, Regional Dean   The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada- National Bishop Susan Johnson, BC Synod Bishop Greg Mohr;The brothers and sisters who share our worship space: The Port Moody Korean Presbyterian Church and the Polish Evangelical Church.

 

Cookies for Mission to Seafarers

Whether it be local, national or international, the global network of Mission to Seafarers centres (www.missiontoseafarers.org) offer a warm and hospitable “home away from home,” for those who visit the worlds ports.  As we welcome the Rev. Peter Smythe this weekend, we also invite you to bake a few batches of cookies for Rev. Smythe to take back and share those treats with those who would appreciate them the most!! Your donation of cookies for the Mission is greatly appreciated!

Thanks to you, $379,000 is eligible for government Famine Relief matching fund

The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund is pleased to report it has received $379,000 in donations toward famine relief. These funds will be matched 1:1 in the federal government’s Famine Relief Fund, which ran from March 17 to June 30, 2017.
Using $20,000 of its equity in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, PWRDF has already supported an ADRA (Adventist Relief and Development Agency) South Sudan food distribution project.
Over the coming weeks and months, PWRDF will be funding projects in the worst affected countries under the direction of Humanitarian Response Coordinator Naba Gurung and members of PWRDF’s Development Team. “PWRDF will continue to support the work of ACT Alliance members and forums who have long experiences in applying community-based approaches,” says Gurung.
Churches and individuals responded to the desperate need in amounts large and small. “Having just spent two weeks in East Africa, meeting with farmers, business people, government officials and church leaders, including those from Somalia, Burundi, Kenya and South Sudan, I know the needs are high and that support is critical and life-saving,” says PWRDF’s Executive Director Will Postma. “PWRDF, with our partners on the ground, are grateful for prayers and this funding, from all across Canada. It’s an amazing show of support and solidarity.”
The federal fund matching period has ended, but PWRDF is still accepting donations to its Famine Relief Fund as the need continues. THANK YOU!

 

Readings for Pentecost 7:  July 23, 2017 

Genesis 28:10-19a; Romans 8:12-25; Matthew 13:24-30 and 26-43

 Important Contact Information

Interim Priest– The Rev. Stephanie Shepard rev.seshepard@gmail.com or 778-773-6816

Parish Office– Karen Evans stjohn7@shaw.ca or 604-936-7762

Wardens– Geri Grigg gerigrigg@gmail.com Terry Walton terry&joanne_walton@telus.net  Maureen Simons mesimons@telus.net or through the parish office

Treasurer– Chelsea Belyk chelsea.belyk@gmail.com

Parish Council– Adelaine Miller, Secretary adelainemiller@shaw.ca

St. John Prayer Circle– Sue Elliott elliott.sue1@gmail.com

Pastoral Visiting Ministry– Joanne Walton terry&joanne_walton@telus.net

or Alma Oldenburg almaolden@hotmail.com

Anglican Church Women (ACW)- Sue Hall 604-936-0176 sbhcat@hotmail.com

 

The E-postle July 9, 2017

The E-postle

July 9, 2017

 

Summer for the children

Over the summer months the children will have an opportunity, during the readings and homily, to learn about the ‘First People’s Principles of Learning’ that were presented to us at Diocesan Synod this year.  They will hear a story from the First Nations tradition and in their own colouring books (which they can take home at the end of summer) they will colour a First Nations symbol that reflects the learning. Each principle is also a reflection of what they learn in Godly Play about God and Jesus.

The Principle for the week will be introduced at the Children’s Talk by a First Nations bear puppet who will be their leader to the class and their return to the liturgy

The First Principle for this week is….

     ‘Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits and the ancestors’ and the image selected for this is the whale

 

These summer sessions have been prepared by Christina Anchor and Deacon Anne.

 

“The Parish of St. John the Apostle is called to be

*          A Spirited Community at the heart of Port Moody

*          transformed through the experience of the                 presence of Christ

*          and sent out to share God’s Love”

– mission statement

Upcoming Dates

July 8- 9 am to noon, summer yard and garden clean-up

July 9- guest preacher and presider the Most Rev. Douglas Hambidge, retired Archbishop

July 12- 9:30 onwards, Coffee & Crafts in the hall

July 16- guest preacher and presider the Rev. Peter Smythe, Mission to Seafarers

July 17- 7:30-9 pm, Beer & Bible at the Parkside Brewery, 2731 Murray Street, Port Moody

July 23- “Hymns from a Hat” Sunday

July 26- 9:30 onwards, Coffee & Crafts in the hall

Stewardship Reflection

Do we put God first in our lives?

God does not judge us by how much we give but by how faithful we are in making that gift. So it is too with our talents and our time. What counts is the extent to which we give each away, in faith, to help others.    Glen Mitchell
Summer Yard and Garden Clean-up

Volunteers needed Saturday July 8, 9:00 til 12:00 noon  Edge the lawns, weed the flower beds, and clean the car park.  Help get the church looking neat and tidy for the summer!

Prayer Cycle

In the Anglican Communion- Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby; Primate of Canada Fred Hiltz; BC & Yukon Archbishop John Privett; our partner Diocese of Northern Philippines, Bishop Brent Alawas, and especially the people of our twin church at St. Johns Mission, Bila, Mountain Province;

Diocese of New Westminster Bishop Melissa Skelton, and this week:

The Diocesan Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund Unit (PWRDF) – Peter Goodwin (Chair)

The Diocesan Ecumenical Multifaith Unit-The Reverend Robin Ruder-Celiz (Chair)

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada- National Bishop Susan Johnson, BC Synod Bishop Greg Mohr;

The brothers and sisters who share our worship space: The Port Moody Korean Presbyterian Church and the Polish Evangelical Church.

 

Readings for Pentecost 6:  July 16, 2017 

Genesis 25:19-34; Romans 8:1-11; Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-20

  

A Message from Deacon Trudi

After many months of hoping and praying we have heard some encouraging news about the family we are hoping to help settle in the Tri-Cities area!  They have been given a date for their interview, which means the process is going forward and hopefully we can expect them within the next few months.  The Refugee ReSponse Steering Committee meets next Tuesday and will be speaking with the brother of the family to get a better idea of what will be needed to set up the accommodations he has provided for them.

We are hoping we can put together a team of about 5 volunteers from the deanery parishes who will help get things ready.

We are also looking at the possibility of helping another family settle in our area, so more opportunities to volunteer will be available.  We have a person at St. Catherine’s who will be coordinating and vetting donations of goods, so when we know what we need we will be letting you know.

We thank you for your patience and prayers and ask you to continue to keep all refugees in your prayers.

 Volunteers needed for 3030 Gordon

Volunteers from St John parish has been helping with the clothing sorting at 3030 Gordon Ave, Coquitlam, a shelter that provides transitional housing for those in need. Currently, they are in dire need of socks and underwear for both men and women.  You may approach Rosa, Marylou or Ruby if you would like to donate the items.

For more info on the project, you may log in to: http://www.raincityhousing.org/what-we-do/3030-gordon-project-coquitlam/

 Important Contact Information

Interim Priest– The Rev. Stephanie Shepard rev.seshepard@gmail.com or 778-773-6816

Parish Office– Karen Evans stjohn7@shaw.ca or 604-936-7762

Wardens– Geri Grigg gerigrigg@gmail.com Terry Walton terry&joanne_walton@telus.net

Maureen Simons mesimons@telus.net or through the parish office

Treasurer– Chelsea Belyk chelsea.belyk@gmail.com

Parish Council– Adelaine Miller, Secretary adelainemiller@shaw.ca

St. John Prayer Circle– Sue Elliott elliott.sue1@gmail.com

Pastoral Visiting Ministry– Joanne Walton terry&joanne_walton@telus.net

or Alma Oldenburg almaolden@hotmail.com

Anglican Church Women (ACW)- Sue Hall 604-936-0176 sbhcat@hotmail.com

Pentecost 3/Aboriginal Day of Prayer, June 18, 2017

Matthew 9:35-10:8

St. John the Apostle

“Just the Gospel”

When Jesus sent out his first followers to spread the message, he gave them strict instructions. Now that they had learned about God’s kingdom for themselves, they had to practice sharing this good news.  The twelve disciples had to learn how to be apostles.   And so, their first mission was to be amongst their own race and religion.

Here’s what they were to do:  heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons.  Here’s what they were not to do:  go outside their own faith and understanding, like the Gentiles or the Samaritans, or to accept payment for their labours.   Altogether, a pretty difficult practicum.  But I believe that this is exactly why Jesus let them loose on the house of Israel first.  If they couldn’t make any headway with people with which they presumably shared a world view, how could they hope to proclaim Jesus’ word to the rest of humanity?

The point is, they were to take just the gospel with them, not their preconceived ideas about which people was closer to God, or what way of living was more holy, or what cultural norms would be acceptable in the Kingdom.  Yet down through the history of religion humans have struggled with keeping clear about the core of the message.  We wrap it up in the cultural understanding and practice that we have, and we present it as a package to those we proselytize.  Jesus was a Jew first talking to Jews.  But as his ministry continued, both Samaritans and Gentiles received the good news he brought.  They didn’t have to convert to Judaism in order to get near him.  They only had to learn to worship “in Spirit and in truth” as he told the Samaritan woman at the well.  And being a Christian in the first century didn’t mean you necessarily had to be a Jew first, as Saint Paul so ably argued.  So why, in the course of Christianity, did we think that being a Christian also meant being just like the dominant culture that brought the gospel?

This is the legacy of the colonial mindset; when one culture comes to another with the preconceived notion that it is superior.  With the Bible in one hand, it is even easier to imagine that we bring something of great value, therefore our way of living it out must be better than the society without this good news.  But the assumptions that creep in undermine and actually are in opposition to the gospel.  Where in Scripture does Jesus say that people are savages, or dirty or stupid, because they hadn’t figured out what God intends?  He laments the lack of understanding amongst his own Jewish people, and the lack of leadership amongst the religious leaders.  And so he sends his disciples out to demonstrate what God’s way really looks like in the context of his own culture.

By the time the apostles start spreading out to touch the lives of those who are beyond the borders of the Jewish faith, they have had some practice with Jesus about dealing with other cultures.  He didn’t always agree with some of their practices, but he listened to their stories and their questions.  He recognized the same needs for healing and acceptance and justice.   He never categorized them as less than human.  Jesus knew them as children of the same Father.

When Jesus sends us out into our daily lives, we have the same instructions as the first twelve.  Our task is healing and reconciliation, right where we are.  In the Message version of the Scriptures, Matthew 10:5-8 has Jesus saying it this way:

“Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers.  And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy.  Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighbourhood.  Tell them that the kingdom is here.  Bring health to the sick.  Raise the dead.  Touch the untouchables.  Kick out the demons.  You have been treated generously, so live generously.”

We need to practice.  In our own neighbourhoods are people that have been here in this area much longer than we have.  Generations.  Millennia.  We have made mistakes in trying to proclaim the gospel to the indigenous people of Canada, and there is much work needed for truth and reconciliation.  Let us return to the gospel values that guided the first apostles, and set aside some of the cultural baggage that has alienated people from us and our attempts to draw them to Christ.  Let us take action in solidarity with the indigenous peoples of Canada:

Listen now to the words of the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada speaking at the Chapel of the Mohawks, Brantford, Ontario, March 19, 2016:

Voice 2: “In renouncing the Doctrine of Discovery that drove colonial expansion – regarding “discovered lands” as empty lands; and treating the First Peoples of the land as savages to be conquered, civilized, and Christianized – our church described that doctrine “as fundamentally opposed to the gospel of Christ and our understanding of the inherent rights that individuals and peoples have received from God”.

I remain deeply committed to enabling our church to let its “yes” in repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery be a resounding and continuing “yes”.While much has been written about this doctrine, it is clear there is much more education required if we are to understand the political and spiritual arrogance inherent in it, and the force with which it was upheld through strategies aimed at systemic cultural genocide… I call on every diocese and territory of our church to ensure opportunity for learning about the history and lingering legacy of this doctrine…I am requesting that on National Aboriginal Day, June 21 or the Sunday closest, there be a public reading of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in every parish across Canada.

Narrator: Following are the voices of the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by 144 nations in September 2007, and by Canada as “an aspirational document” in November 2010. These headings summarize the Articles of the Declaration affirming the rights and standards affecting relationships with indigenous peoples around the world. They will be accompanied by the voice of the principles guiding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the TRC.

Narrator: TRC Principle #1: “The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the framework for reconciliation at all levels and across all sectors of Canadian society.”

Voice 2: United Nations Articles (Note: it is recommended that the number of each article be read aloud to designate it clearly)

#1 Human Rights and fundamental freedom

#2 Equality

#3 The right to self-determination

#4 Autonomy and self-governance

Narrator: TRC Principle #2: “First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples, as the original peoples of this country and as self-determining peoples, have treaty, constitutional and human rights that must be recognized and respected.”

Voice 2: United Nations Articles

#5 Indigenous institutions, state participation

#6 Nationality

#7 Life, security, violence free, Guarding against genocide

#8 Cultural integrity and prevention of cultural destruction

#9 Communities and nations without discrimination

 Narrator: TRC Principle #3: “Reconciliation is a process of healing relationships that requires public truth sharing, apology and commemoration that acknowledge and redress past harms.”

Voice 2: United Nations Articles

#10 Free, prior and informed consent prior to removal and relocation

#11 Cultural tradition and customs

#12 Spiritual and religious traditions; repatriation of remains

#13 Native language is fundamental to preserve culture. The guarantee to participate in political, legal and administrative proceedings.

#14 Education in our own culture and language

#15 Education and public information to promote peace in society.

 Narrator: TRC Principle #4: “Reconciliation requires constructive action on addressing the ongoing legacy of colonialism that have had destructive impacts on Aboriginal people’s education, cultures and language, health, child welfare, the administration of justice and economic opportunities and prosperity.”

Voice 2: United Nations Articles

#16 Media and cultural diversity

#17 Employment and labour; protection from exploitation of children

#18 Indigenous decision making and institutions

#19 Prior consultation with free, prior, informed consent

Narrator: TRC Principle #5: “Reconciliation must create a more equitable and inclusive society by closing the gaps in social, health and economic outcomes that exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

Voice 6: United Nations Articles

#20 Subsistence and development in economic activities; entitlement to just and fair redress.

#21 Improvement of indigenous living standards and special measures to ensure them.

#22 Ensure protection for elders, women, youth ,children, and persons with disabilities

#23 Determine and administer the right to economic and social development

Narrator: TRC Principle #6: “All Canadians, as Treaty peoples, share responsibility for establishing and maintaining mutually respectful relationships.”

Voice 2: United Nations Articles

#24 Traditional medicine and holistic protection of resources. Progressive realization of physical and mental health.

#25 Indigenous peoples have distinctive spiritual relationships with their territories and have responsibilities to future generations.

#26 Land rights and legal recognition of indigenous systems

#27 Due recognition of indigenous lands and resources through fair process by strong participation

Narrator: TRC Principle #7: “The perspectives and understandings of Aboriginal elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers of the ethics, concepts and practices of reconciliation are vital to long-term reconciliation.”

Voice 2: United Nations Articles

#28 Indigenous redress and restitution for lands and resources

#29 Environment conservation and protection ; prevention of hazardous materials; restoring health impacted by such materials

#30 No military activities on indigenous land

#31 Cultural heritage, traditional property and intellectual property.

 Narrator: TRC Principle #8: “Supporting Aboriginal peoples’ cultural revitalization and integrating Indigenous knowledge systems, oral histories, laws, protocols, and connections to the land into the reconciliation process are essential.”

Voice 9: United Nations Articles

#32 Determine and develop priorities and strategies for development

#33 Indigenous identity and citizenship based on customs.

#34 Indigenous legal structures and customary practices in accordance with human rights standards.

#35 Determine individual responsibility in indigenous communities

 

Narrator: TRC Principle #9: “Reconciliation requires political will, trust building, accountability and transparency, as well as a substantial investment of resources.”

Voice 10: United Nations Articles

#36 Contact and cooperation despite division due to borders

#37 Recognition of treaty rights and observation of agreements.

#38 National measures for achievement of declaration articles

#39 Access to assistance from states and international cooperation

#40 Dispute resolution and remedies based on indigenous traditions and customs and international human rights law

#41 Full realization of rights through cooperation and assistance from UN systems and intergovernmental organizations

Narrator: TRC Principle #10: “Reconciliation requires sustained public education and dialogue, including youth engagement, about the history and legacy of residential schools, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, as well as the historical and contemporary contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canadian society.”

Voice 11: United Nations Articles

#42 Promotion and application of declaration articles through UN specialized agencies and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

#43 The rights and the declaration are the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world

#44 Guarantee of gender equality

#45 Nothing in the declaration diminishes or extinguishes indigenous peoples’ rights now or in the future

#46 Respect for UN Charter and promotion of the principals of peace, justice and human rights.

Closing Prayer: Merciful God, you call us to loving relationship with one another.Be with us now as we seek to heal old wounds and find joy again in this relationship.Replace our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh.Give us the gifts of honesty and openness, and fill us with your healing power and grace.We ask this in Jesus’s name.Amen.

(Anglican Healing Fund prayer)

 Please read aloud the words for Voice 2

Narrator: Listen now to the words of the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada speaking at the Chapel of the Mohawks, Brantford, Ontario, March 19, 2016:

Voice 2: “In renouncing the Doctrine of Discovery that drove colonial expansion – regarding “discovered lands” as empty lands; and treating the First Peoples of the land as savages to be conquered, civilized, and Christianized – our church described that doctrine “as fundamentally opposed to the gospel of Christ and our understanding of the inherent rights that individuals and peoples have received from God”.

I remain deeply committed to enabling our church to let its “yes” in repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery be a resounding and continuing “yes”.While much has been written about this doctrine, it is clear there is much more education required if we are to understand the political and spiritual arrogance inherent in it, and the force with which it was upheld through strategies aimed at systemic cultural genocide… I call on every diocese and territory of our church to ensure opportunity for learning about the history and lingering legacy of this doctrine…I am requesting that on National Aboriginal Day, June 21 or the Sunday closest, there be a public reading of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in every parish across Canada.

Narrator: Following are the voices of the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by 144 nations in September 2007, and by Canada as “an aspirational document” in November 2010. These headings summarize the Articles of the Declaration affirming the rights and standards affecting relationships with indigenous peoples around the world. They will be accompanied by the voice of the principles guiding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the TRC.

Narrator: TRC Principle #1: “The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the framework for reconciliation at all levels and across all sectors of Canadian society.”

Voice 2: United Nations Articles (Note: it is recommended that the number of each article be read aloud to designate it clearly)

#1 Human Rights and fundamental freedom

#2 Equality

#3 The right to self-determination

#4 Autonomy and self-governance

 

Narrator: TRC Principle #2: “First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples, as the original peoples of this country and as self-determining peoples, have treaty, constitutional and human rights that must be recognized and respected.”

Voice 2: United Nations Articles

#5 Indigenous institutions, state participation

#6 Nationality

#7 Life, security, violence free, Guarding against genocide

#8 Cultural integrity and prevention of cultural destruction

#9 Communities and nations without discrimination

 

Narrator: TRC Principle #3: “Reconciliation is a process of healing relationships that requires public truth sharing, apology and commemoration that acknowledge and redress past harms.”

Voice 2: United Nations Articles

#10 Free, prior and informed consent prior to removal and relocation

#11 Cultural tradition and customs

#12 Spiritual and religious traditions; repatriation of remains

#13 Native language is fundamental to preserve culture. The guarantee to participate in political, legal and administrative proceedings.

#14 Education in our own culture and language

#15 Education and public information to promote peace in society.

 

Narrator: TRC Principle #4: “Reconciliation requires constructive action on addressing the ongoing legacy of colonialism that have had destructive impacts on Aboriginal people’s education, cultures and language, health, child welfare, the administration of justice and economic opportunities and prosperity.”

Voice 2: United Nations Articles

#16 Media and cultural diversity

#17 Employment and labour; protection from exploitation of children

#18 Indigenous decision making and institutions

#19 Prior consultation with free, prior, informed consent

 

Narrator: TRC Principle #5: “Reconciliation must create a more equitable and inclusive society by closing the gaps in social, health and economic outcomes that exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

Voice 6: United Nations Articles

#20 Subsistence and development in economic activities; entitlement to just and fair redress.

#21 Improvement of indigenous living standards and special measures to ensure them.

#22 Ensure protection for elders, women, youth ,children, and persons with disabilities

#23 Determine and administer the right to economic and social development

 

Narrator: TRC Principle #6: “All Canadians, as Treaty peoples, share responsibility for establishing and maintaining mutually respectful relationships.”

Voice 2: United Nations Articles

#24 Traditional medicine and holistic protection of resources. Progressive realization of physical and mental health.

#25 Indigenous peoples have distinctive spiritual relationships with their territories and have responsibilities to future generations.

#26 Land rights and legal recognition of indigenous systems

#27 Due recognition of indigenous lands and resources through fair process by strong participation

 

Narrator: TRC Principle #7: “The perspectives and understandings of Aboriginal elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers of the ethics, concepts and practices of reconciliation are vital to long-term reconciliation.”

Voice 2: United Nations Articles

#28 Indigenous redress and restitution for lands and resources

#29 Environment conservation and protection ; prevention of hazardous materials; restoring health impacted by such materials

#30 No military activities on indigenous land

#31 Cultural heritage, traditional property and intellectual property.

 

Narrator: TRC Principle #8: “Supporting Aboriginal peoples’ cultural revitalization and integrating Indigenous knowledge systems, oral histories, laws, protocols, and connections to the land into the reconciliation process are essential.”

Voice 9: United Nations Articles

#32 Determine and develop priorities and strategies for development

#33 Indigenous identity and citizenship based on customs.

#34 Indigenous legal structures and customary practices in accordance with human rights standards.

#35 Determine individual responsibility in indigenous communities

 

Narrator: TRC Principle #9: “Reconciliation requires political will, trust building, accountability and transparency, as well as a substantial investment of resources.”

Voice 10: United Nations Articles

#36 Contact and cooperation despite division due to borders

#37 Recognition of treaty rights and observation of agreements.

#38 National measures for achievement of declaration articles

#39 Access to assistance from states and international cooperation

#40 Dispute resolution and remedies based on indigenous traditions and customs and international human rights law

#41 Full realization of rights through cooperation and assistance from UN systems and intergovernmental organizations

 

Narrator: TRC Principle #10: “Reconciliation requires sustained public education and dialogue, including youth engagement, about the history and legacy of residential schools, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, as well as the historical and contemporary contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canadian society.”

Voice 11: United Nations Articles

#42 Promotion and application of declaration articles through UN specialized agencies and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

#43 The rights and the declaration are the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world

#44 Guarantee of gender equality

#45 Nothing in the declaration diminishes or extinguishes indigenous peoples’ rights now or in the future

#46 Respect for UN Charter and promotion of the principals of peace, justice and human rights.

 

Closing Prayer: Merciful God, you call us to loving relationship with one another.Be with us now as we seek to heal old wounds and find joy again in this relationship.Replace our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh.Give us the gifts of honesty and openness, and fill us with your healing power and grace.We ask this in Jesus’s name.Amen.

(Anglican Healing Fund prayer)

 

Pentecost 5, July 2, 2017

Genesis 22:1-19

St. John the Apostle

“What do we do with bad stories?”

I speak to you as a sinner to sinners, and as one who is loved to the beloved of God, through the mercy of God.  Amen.

What do we do with bad stories?  The troubling tales, the hurtful histories, the scriptures that make us squeamish and defensive?  This morning we heard the passage about God commanding Abraham to take his son Isaac and offer him as a burnt offering on Mount Moriah. I have to preach on it.  And you have to do something about it.  We have some choices.

We can deny or discount this portion of Scripture.  Some Christians would prefer not to read any of the Old Testament, especially the bits that seem to show an angry, holy, and jealous God rather than the God of love that Jesus proclaims.  But this, we come to realize, is a false dichotomy, for by that standard we could just as well rip out the pages of the gospels that tell of the crucifixion of God’s son.  I could have chosen to consider one of the other Scripture readings in my sermon today, and ignore this one.  But the revised common lectionary keeps us honest and the Bible challenges us rather than just makes us feel good about ourselves.

Similarly, we can try to hide the bad stories like Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac.  We could cut it out of the Sunday lectionary, and not include it in the Sunday School curriculum.  Some of us might not miss it.  There are good reasons why some passages are considered more suitable for public teaching.  My husband the teacher, on the other hand, keeps advocating for 2 Kings 2:23-24 to be read to children as a cautionary tale:

“Elisha went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him saying, ‘Go away, baldy!  When he turned around and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord.  Then two she-bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys”.

Perhaps the Church should restrict such sections for those of more mature faith, similar to the Jewish recommendation that you should be at least 40 years old before you study the sexually explicit Song of Solomon (However, challenge teenagers with this prohibition and they may actually read more Scripture!).

Much Biblical scholarship seems to find ways to explain or justify the events in these “texts of terror”, as theologian Phyllis Trible refers to them.  Placed within a culture and time, the horrors are downplayed as merely relics of a chauvinistic past.  The victims are viewed from a safe distance.  The danger is that Scripture that is exegeted but not linked to what God is calling us to do about it today becomes a continuing means of oppression, prejudice, hatred, and fear.

If the bad stories cannot be explained or justified, then they can be rewritten to suit the modern understanding.  Experts claim to have insight on what the original author really meant, even across centuries and multiple re-workings of the text.  It is possible to twist the Bible to say whatever supports our perspective if we do not pay attention to the bits that don’t fit.

Yes, we can deny, hide, justify, or re-write the difficult stories of our Bible.  But there is another way.  When we are faced with a story that we would rather not engage, we can have the courage to listen, to struggle, and to learn.   Entering into the text opens the door to question, wonder, and empathy with the characters in the story. And perhaps to learn that there are layers of meaning which can teach us to see the world differently.

In the Jewish faith, Genesis chapter 22 is called the binding of Isaac or the “Akedah”.  It is read to the community at the Jewish New Year, which is a time for repentance.  The ram’s horn, the “shofar” is blown to remind God of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac, and God’s willingness to provide the ram in his stead.  In the reading of this passage, the Jewish people are once again bound in their obedience to God, even as they continue to struggle to understand God’s demand.  The story is mentioned nowhere else in the Old Testament by the writers or the prophets, but the theology of suffering as a sign of God’s favour for a chosen people continued to evolve over history.

When we as Christians read this same passage, we too struggle with how God could have demanded the sacrifice of a son’s life.  There is a happy ending for Isaac.  God provides a ram in his place, and he escapes death at the hands of his earthly father.  Similarly, we are looking at the crucifixion from a post-resurrection perspective.  The idea of God allowing Jesus to hang on the cross is tempered by the knowledge that after death, Christ rose again.  This may help avoid the accusation of divine child abuse, but the comparison of Jesus to Isaac is troubling.  In both narratives, a father offers up a son.  What kind of love is this?

Biblical writer Bruce Feiler looks closely at the dialogue (and lack of dialogue) in this episode in Genesis to help break our assumptions about the story.   When Abraham tells his servants, “the boy and I will… go and worship, and then we will come back to you” there is an expectation that God will provide another offering and Isaac is going to survive.  But when it gets to the moment when Isaac is bound and helpless, and Abraham raises his knife, there is no pleading with God or Abraham to stay his hand.  Isaac is silent. Abraham is silent.  And God is silent.  What is happening in this moment.  Feiler puts forward the following hypothesis:

“Almost all interpretations of the binding suggest it’s a test, specifically a trial of Abraham’s love for God:  would he be willing to do whatever God asked, however inhuman?  Even the text takes this position, stating at the outset that ‘God put Abraham to the test.’  But God never tells Abraham it’s a test.  Even more, he never asks Abraham to kill his son.  God demands only that Abraham take Isaac to a mountain and offer him as a burnt offering.  Abraham is never explicitly given the order to slay his son.  Early Jews, mindful of this nuance, referred to the event as an offering, not a binding and not a sacrifice.  Death was not considered part of the story… As a result, maybe Abraham is not being tested at all.  Maybe he’s doing the testing.  Perhaps the episode is Abraham’s way of testing God, specifically God’s promise in the preceding chapter that Abraham’s offspring will be continued through Isaac.  Given that God pressured Abraham to expel Ishmael, Abraham surely would have been doubting God’s loyalty.  His attempt to kill Isaac thus becomes a way for Abraham to determine if God is a figure of mercy and compassion, which is deeply in question at the moment.”  (p. 87-88 Abraham, a Journey to the Heart of 3 Faiths).

When we struggle with Scripture, we too are doing our own testing out of God.  We are asking, ‘Where is God present in this story?  Where is God absent?’  Our faith gives us some tools so that we do not have to run away from the texts of terror.  We can follow the rough road.  In her introduction, “On Telling Sad Stories”, Phyllis Trible urges us to take provisions to sustain us on the journey.  “They are few but ample:  a perspective, a methodology, and a story” (p. 3).  As a perspective, she suggests a prophetic movement that examines the status quo, pronounces judgment, and calls for repentance.  As methodology, she encourages a literary criticism that considers form, content and meaning, especially in the portrayal of characters that suffer.  This is not an abstract way of going about Bible study.  It is the power that we can bring to bear on all the stories of our lives:  in Scripture, in political discourse, in our parish history, and in our personal sagas.

For example, this weekend our country is marking 150 years of confederation as Canada.  We can celebrate the story that is being told is of how settlers came and made a modern nation.  But beside and within that story line are other stories that also need to be listened to and learned from.  Some of them are bad stories, and some of them come from very different perspectives.  In our own lives, too, there are things that we would much rather deny, or hide, or rewrite about our families and ourselves.  But all of them together shape who we are and our present relationship with God.  May we have the faith to believe that in our story, the Lord will provide.  Amen.