HIGHWAY w w w .k o o t e n a y a n g l i c a n .c a
A SECTION OF THE ANGLICAN JOURNAL
SERVING THE DIOCESE OF KOOTENAY
Reporting diocesan events Photocomp: Jonn Lavinnder BY JONN LAVINNDER
R P 4. CHANGE spiritual practice
P 5. ROW IN CHURCH history
EPORTING THE EVENTS and activities of Anglicans in Kootenay diocese has been my privilege and delight since September 2007 and I hope I will continue to do so for some years to come. The diocesan newspaper you hold in your hands is your direct line to everyone in the parish and the diocese. It is part of a group of newspapers prepared for every person on parish rolls in the Anglican Church of Canada each month. This group of publications, which is unique to the Anglican Communion, keeps us connected from coast to coast to coast. It includes 23 diocesan newspapers and our national newspaper, which carries the regional newspapers right across the country. This month, I ask you to give us your feedback about these publications and how we can improve them. What do they do well? What are they not doing well? Do you read both the Anglican Journal and the diocesan newspaper? Are you online? Your answers will help us determine our next steps as we plan for the future. Please take 10 minutes and go to p. 8 of the Anglican Journal to fill out the questionnaire and to mail it in the return envelope provided. Or, go to ww.anglicanjournal.com and fill out the questionnaire online. I thank you for participating. Your feedback allows us to stay relevant and remain vital.
PAGE 2 THE HIGHWAY
In My View
From darkness to light BY ARCHBISHOP JOHN E. PRIVETT
HE CHRISTIAN SEASON OF LENT begins this year on February 22 with Ash Wednesday. By the time you are reading this we will be two, possibly three, weeks into this season of the Spirit. The word “Lent” comes from an AngloSaxon word meaning the lengthening of days — so, at least for those living in the northern hemisphere, it marks those weeks which take us from the darkness of the winter solstice into the light of the spring equinox and beyond.
After the dark days of winter, we welcome the coming of the light. The weeks of Lent are also a time for us to journey with Jesus, through the gospel stories, and follow his life, and ministry through his death to the resurrection. As we read, re-call and meditate on the events of his life we are drawn into the Paschal (or Easter) mystery of his dying and rising. We are not meant to be mere spectators, however, for the journey from darkness to light, from death to resurrection is a journey which we all seek and long for. Each of us can identify where we have been touched by the darkness of the world. Grief, illness, loss, death, and the weight of daily life touches
us all. Even the best vacation, most coveted acquisition or exciting encounter soon leaves us aware of nagging emptiness or aloneness. Like the buds on the trees or green shoots in the ground we turn toward the light seeking new life. Lent puts us in touch with the spiritual longing of our lives through the gospel narratives. The invitation of this season is to enter more personally into both the reality of the darkness and the promise of light and life. Through the Spirit of the Gospels we turn our hearts to the light of resurrection. At the Ash Wednesday liturgy, the priest invites us to undertake this journey personally, “I invite you therefore, in
the name of the Lord, to observe a holy Lent, by selfexamination, penitence, prayer, fasting and almsgiving and by reading and meditating on the word of God.” A simple daily practise can greatly assist us, as we make this journey. 1. Take a moment of quiet to remember that we live our lives in God’s presence. 2. Give thanks for the gifts and blessings of this day which have nourished your spirits and were a sign of God’s goodness. 3. Take note of the moments of unkindness, selfishness, distress or hurt you experienced and particularly how you contributed to the hurt of others.
4. Ask God to help you to journey from darkness to light, from death to life, with Jesus’ help. 5. Finish your quiet moment by saying the Lord’s Prayer. In my view, it is not too late to try this simple, daily practise which can guide our Lenten journey and help us discover the reality of the way of the cross to resurrection, through darkness to new life. May our Lenten journey which we share with Christians throughout the world bring fresh Easter blessings! Faithfully, + John
The HighWay is published under the authority of the Bishop of Kootenay and the Synod of the Diocese of Kootenay. Opinions expressed in The HighWay are not necessarily those of the Editor or the Publisher. EDITOR Jonn Lavinnder St. Saviour’s Pro-Cathedral 723 Ward Street, Nelson, B.C. V1L 1T3 Phone: (250) 352-5711 email@example.com
Editorial Assistant Micahel Lavinnder
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Printed and mailed by printed & mailed by Bowes Publishing, London ON. A section of the Anglican Journal.
BY JONN LAVINNDER
HE HIGHWAY contains features, news items and articles we hope have a wide enough content to be meaningful to all our readers. It is freely distributed and mailed to your homes, along with the Anglican Journal, to all contributing members of parishes in Kootenay diocese. Archbishop John Privett is the publisher, and I want to thank him for giving us freedom in editorial content. This is something much appreciated by all Anglican editors across Canada, and speaks to our intellectual freedom as Christians, which reflects a tradition that is open and inclusive. The feature article this month gives you, our reader, a
chance to express your opinion about the Anglican Journal and The HighWay. Due to many changes in the way people communicate today, we want to make sure that we are providing information that is relevant and in a form that is accessible As I have mentioned in previous months, we have lost two respected columnists. I spoke to Archbishop John about this and he suggested we might replace them with guest writers. If you have ever thought about writing about your faith, ministry, or special interest, now is the time to step forward. It doesn’t have to be a commitment to produce an article every month. It might be a one-off or a series of articles.
In the past, the series on “Different Ways to Pray” was produced by a team of writers from the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer. It was very well received. Currently, we have a series on “Spirituality.” Jane Bourcet has written an article this month called, “Change.” An individual writer could plan a series or just submit one article. Let me know if you are interested. An article should be under 600 words and emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Drop me a line first and let me know what you intend to write. Writing can be very rewarding. It takes a lot of practise to be good, but the main thing is to start. It gets easier as you go along. ❑
THE HIGHWAY PAGE 3
COGS wheels BY RANDALL FAIREY RANDALL FAIREY IS A DELEGATE TO THE COUNCIL OF GENERAL SYNOD AND EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE DIOCESE OF KOOTENAY
OTWITHSTANDING THEIR IMPORTANCE, the adjournment of Annual Meetings in February always seems to produce a general sense of relief for clergy and congregations alike. Summary reports are received, budgets are approved, Wardens and Council members are chosen, Synod delegates are elected, lay ministers affirmed and the rhythm of routine congregational business resumes. It is around this time of year that the partnerships with a diocese come under closer scrutiny as congregational statistics are
requested, canonical requirements more obviously intrude, the commitment for diocesan financial sharing [in Kootenay it is called the Diocesan Family Budget (DFB)] is carefully examined and accepted, and commitments to councils and committees at the regional or diocesan level are made. All too often the stresses of the moment tend to blur the essential and mutually supportive relationships that should exist in the Anglican Church of Canada because we are “episcopally-led and synodically-governed.” The demands on the organization and personalities of each congregation by a diocese may too easily be seen as wearisome and restrictive. Add to the equation the transmitted demands on dioceses from Ecclesiastical Provinces and the General Synod and the ground is ripe for creeping congregationalism — after all “wouldn’t we be just fine if we didn’t have to pay for all those budgeted programs of Dioceses, Provinces and General
Synod” that are too easily dismissed as superfluous and wasteful, or at least, “unaffordable”? Fortunately in the life of our National Church most congregations do understand that each is an essential part of a much bigger and surprisingly effective national, and even international, picture. Most Canadians, while perhaps grumbling about taxes and the burdens of government, do understand that the strength of our nation depends on its citizens participating in the social contracts and services with government that give our lives purpose and meaning as a national society. So too in the Anglican Church of Canada the diocesan support we give to further God’s Mission in our world, should be judged as both welcome and necessary. Demands always present do not negate the ministries we are only able to perform together such that we truly “can do more than we can ask or imagine.”
The key to our partnerships in mission for National Church, for Ecclesiastical Provinces, for Dioceses, and for congregations is to demonstrate value-added endpoints and economies of scale; Anglicans are generous when they see that precious funds are carefully used, and when their congregations are in ecclesial partnerships there is a loaves and fishes effect on resources and outcomes. In 2012 the Diocese of Kootenay will be seriously studying a proposed major national financial and mission initiative that integrates financial development with the strategic vision for the Church that is articulated in Vision 2019. The project is called Together in Mission (TIM) and in order to do this properly a number of small and large dioceses chosen by National Church will be determining if they desire and are able to participate in a feasibility study. Such studies will involve some upfront costs, borne by National Church and by each Diocese who
agrees to participate. The purpose is to decide if a Diocese such as Kootenay is truly prepared and committed to enter into a significant commitment with the General Synod. A decision will be needed to commit seriously to Together in Mission. This promises to be a program of professional financial development that will allow congregations to find and keep significant amounts of new money in partnerships with the Diocese and the General Synod. Of course the hoped-for outcome is that the sum will be greater than its constituent parts in terms of moving God’s Mission significantly forward in the Anglican Church of Canada. It begins, however, with shedding attitudes of congregational reluctance when Dioceses and General Synod are otherwise only seen to be making the same old demands. I pray our May Synod will understand this, and instruct the new Diocesan Council to make this happen. ❑
Running the risk of faith, not belief... BY NISSA BASBAUM
N HER BOOK, The Spiral Staircase, author and theologian Karen Armstrong takes the reader through her journey out of the convent and back into the secular world. Armstrong became a nun in the early 1950s and left cloistered life after seven years. It was not long after her departure from the convent that she met Jewish academic and theologian, Hyam Maccoby, with whom she had a conversation about belief. In that conversation, Maccoby told Armstrong that, unlike Christians, Jews don’t have a set of precepts to which they must conform in order to be a member of the community. Instead, he said, “Theology is just not important in Judaism, or in any other religion, really. There’s no orthodoxy as you have it in the Catholic Church. No complicated creeds to which everybody must subscribe… Nobody can tell Jews what to believe. Within rea-
son, you can believe what you like.” Armstrong was stymied by this. She could not “imagine a religion without belief.” How could there be no orthodoxy, she wondered? “We have orthopraxy instead of orthodoxy,” Maccoby told her. “Right practice rather than right belief…We Jews don’t bother much about what we believe. We just do it instead.” Armstrong, Karen. The Spiral Staircase. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004, pp. 235-236. Years after converting, as I try to remember what first attracted me to Christianity, there is no doubt that it was indeed the person of Jesus, yet it was not so much who he was but how he acted and what he did. As such, when I decided to convert, I understood myself to be making a decision to follow rather than to worship this man. Following is about how to live, not what to believe. “Love God and love your neighbour as yourself.” Jesus wasn’t the first to describe the faith in so few words, but as he echoed the teaching of previous generations the message was obvious. The thing which is essential to God is what we do, not what we profess. The summary of the law says nothing about who Jesus was or
even about who God is. Instead, it proclaims the behaviour which God expects of us. St. Augustine summed it up nicely: “Love and do as you will.” St. Augustine, Sermon on 1 John 7, 8 It strikes me that orthodoxy, in comparison to orthopraxy, is an extraordinarily passive response to life. If I were asked to comment on why the church, somewhere along the line, began to preach Jesus rather than Jesus’ message, I would probably suggest that by doing the former, its leaders were more apt to remain in control. Asking and allowing people to think and act for themselves — something I suggest Jesus himself wanted his followers to do — has the potential to create chaos, and it would not be far off the mark to suggest that this, in fact, is just what Jesus did. By telling people that the kingdom of God was within them and that they had the power within themselves to make things happen, he took an orderly system and turned it on its ear. With the destruction of the temple and by consequence the destruction of temple sacrifice, Judaism would never be the same again. The priestly system to which the Jews had become so
accustomed was forever lost, ironically to be replaced only a few centuries later by a new priestly system — this time under the guise of Christianity — and, of all things, Jesus was at the forefront of this new system. The act of loving God and loving one’s neighbour quickly seemed to take second chair to the way in which the faith was accepted, understood, recited and meant to be believed. The church became a place that described those who were in and those who were out. The unusually inclusive nature of Jesus’ teaching was lost in the fray of trying to prove whose beliefs were heretical and whose were not. As a result of numerous conversations I have had with people who have left the church, I have sometimes wondered if the response to this orthodoxy has been that people today are no longer receptive to this kind of control. By consequence, many have abandoned the institution because of its attachment to beliefs fashioned by yesterday’s world, a world that bears little resemblance to the one in which we live today, a world which had no science or scientists to which the church was forced to respond.
At times, it has occurred to me that perhaps following Jesus and remaining in the church are irreconcilable options. Yet, choosing to leave has never seemed to be the right answer either. In one of my more melancholy moments as a theological student, a professor suggested to me that the church had always been a conservative institution and it always would be. Leaving, he said, was not the answer. Instead, he told me, the way to survive was to find the pockets of radicalism that also would always be present and to live faithfully within the context of these pockets. While the institutional church continues to hold dear creedal statements that are regarded by many as outdated and outmoded, experience has taught me that somehow Christ still manages to rise from the grave of these antiquated proclamations, begging those of us who follow to proclaim a faith of radical inclusion. It is not a faith based on right belief but on right action. It is a much riskier business dealing in orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy but if we are to follow Jesus, it may be a risk we all need to take. ❑
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BY JANE BOURCET
T VARIOUS TIMES IN THE YEAR — the beginning of a school year, Spring, New Year — we often desire to make changes. We want to lose that elusive 10 lbs, get more exercise, eat healthier. Or maybe our wishes are more lifeoriented, such as finding a better balance between work and family, slowing down the pace of life, having more fun. These desires arise in part because of the society we live in. We live in a world of “terminal discontent.” Advertisers surround us, letting us know that we are not successful enough, not attractive enough, not intelligent or knowledgeable enough. Consumerism is built on creating an idea of lack, which can only be filled by buying this company’s or that company’s products. Another aspect of our world is the concept of the “instant fix.” If we have a headache, take a pill and the headache will vanish. If
we need to lose weight, just follow the latest fad diet and the weight will be gone in no time. If we are having financial problems, just follow this easy investment strategy and the money will flow in. “All you need is...,” “Just follow our easy painless...” — we have become geared to viewing ourselves as a never-ending do-it-yourself project.” We have also been raised on the belief of progress. “Day by day I’m getting better and better.” Nirvana or Enlightenment or Financial Independence is just around the corner. The way I am today is never really good enough, because the way I will be tomorrow will be so much better. Woven into our sense of the way the world works is this drive to go forward, to graduate, to get a promotion, to take a trip around the world. The present then becomes merely the jumping off point for tomorrow and all of the plans we have for a more fulfilling life. When we speak of change we almost automatically shift to “What do I have to do? What’s the plan?” And so we come up with our resolutions and the plans to achieve them and then, by gosh or by golly, we shoehorn ourselves into our amazing, satisfactionguaranteed programme for success and are astonished when our programme pops a button here or splits a seam there. What would happen if we were to turn our per-
spective on life on its head? What if instead of focusing on how I am not, I focused on how I am? Not on what I don’t have, but what I do have? What about living in the present moment rather than fastforwarding into tomorrow? How about being rather than doing? What if I don't need any fix at all? What if the person I am is just right for now? What would happen if we were content, accepting and peaceful? ■
Content with our lives rather, than being dissatisfied with the lives we’ve got. Accepting of this day, rather than trying to make it better. At peace with ourselves, rather than always in the need of fixing.
The qualities described are really the fruits of the Spirit, the results of living a life steeped in our awareness of the divine in all things. How we open ourselves to the Spirit, led me to the Celts. Celtic Christianity was a vibrant faith, very aware of the divinity of all things and the interweaving of the spirit and material worlds. Nature was viewed as the voice of God, which led to gratitude for the beauty of the world around us, even in the harsh environment of the Irish Islands. There was a blessing in all of life and prayer was offered for everything, from the milking of the cows to the roar of the ocean waves. To the Celts, God was Mystery, and our awareness of the divine was caught in glimpses.
Photocomp: Jonn Lavinnder
Photograph: Susan Barrett
Water colour painting of St. Saviour’s Pro-Cathedral, Nelson, presented by the artist, Carol Greenfield (left) to Beth Woodbridge as a going away present.
Revelation, which gets its roots from “re-valere,” which means “to veil again,” means that our access to the divine is not direct or permanent. The Celts felt that each of us at our birth is chosen. No one is here by accident, so each of us has a special destiny. Each destiny is unique, and the shape of each soul is different. The idea then is not so much striving to become some God-clone, but rather opening ourselves to the divine unfolding of our lives held in the palm of God’s hand. Our task is to awaken this unique sense of ourselves and discover the rhythm — the ebb and flow — of our own life. “The only barrier is readiness.” — James Stephens, an Irish writer. When we learned to walk, or to talk, did we study and plan? Did we organize ourselves with a scientific, educational plan, or were we just ourselves until we lived into walking and talking? Maybe then, change is not so such much us striving to become “someone,” but rather allowing this “someone” to unfold and bloom into us. Maybe we are explorers, discovering the mystery of our deep divine self. “Behind the facade of our normal lives, eternal destiny is shaping our days and our ways.” — John O’Donohue.
5 Marks of Mission in plain English
PAGE 5 THE HIGHWAY
History & Education
Row in the church Rev. H. E. Akehurst arrested last Sunday at Kaslo Published in the Miner, Nelson BC Nov 5, 1896
EMBERS OF HIS CONGREGATION locked him out and he broke the padlock and entered — cause of the trouble. Quite a sensation was created in Kaslo last Sunday by an effort on the part of some of the members of the Church of England to forcibly keep Rev. H.S. Akehurst from occupying the pulpit on that day. It resulted in the arrest of Mr. Akehurst and there is considerable speculation in regard to what action he will take in the matter. It appears that the trouble arose over the so called high church practices; a few members taking exception to them and refraining from taking the course manifestly open to them of appealing to the bishop of the diocese. They evidently took matters into their own hands which
culminated in debarring Rev. Akehurst from entering the church last Sunday. On that morning Mr. Akehurst found an iron bar stretch across the church door and padlocked. On the door was a notice issued by Mr. E.V. Twiss to the effect that anyone entering the building would be arrested and prosecuted. Mr. Twiss signed the document as chairman of the building committee.
Mr. Akehurst inquired of a constable who was there, to produce authority for hindering him from entering. The constable replied that the authority was from the signer of the notice. Mr. Akehurst, evidently not recognizing the authority, broke the padlock and entered the church and the constable placed him under arrest. He was taken to Mayor Green who stated that he considered Mr. Akehurst the only person who had authority of the building and he could
Kootenay School of Ministry 2012 Courses http://www.kootenayanglican.ca/kootenay-school-of-ministry God-Talk, Money-Talk St. David’s, Castlegar April 13-16 The Rev. Canon Michael Karabelas
The Ministry of Evangelism Today St. Aidan’s and Diocesan Centre, Kelowna May 18-21 Dr. John Bowen
Congregational Leadership Christ Church, Cranbrook July 27-30 Abp. John Privett and Alida Privett
Spiritual Formation Fairhaven Ministries, Vernon August 31-Sept. 2 The Rev. Dr. Garry Schmidt
The Gospel of John as Story St. James, Armstrong September 27-30 The Rev. Cory Rundell
therefore do nothing in the matter. He advised the constable to set his prisoner at liberty and as soon as this was done, Mr. Akehurst proceeded to the church, where he held services as usual. When Mr. Akehurst arrived at the church for evening service he found a line of men drawn up in front of the church door and among them were Mr. John Keene and a special constable. Mr. Akehurst made a formal demand for admittance, but Mr. Keene refused to move from his position. Mr. Akehurst however was soon allowed to go into the building on condition that after he had collected certain personal effects he would at once come out again. He did so and remarked to Mr. Keene that he hoped he was satisfied with the proceedings he had taken. He then turned to open
the door but Mr. Keene saw his intention and pushed him away from the entrance. Mr. Akehurst, seeing that resistance was useless, left the enemy in possession and retired from the field and no services were held that evening. As far as is known, the entire trouble arose because there was a cross on the communion table which Mr. Akehurst refused to have removed. The chief dissenters are said to be the families of Mr. Twiss and Mr. Keene and they contend that the cross was not legal in the Church of England, notwithstanding the declaration of the bishop that it was perfectly legal. The dissension has been in progress since Easter time and as the request to have the cross removed was not complied with, it appears that summary measures were taken. ❑
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Directed by Krzystof Kielowski and starring Irene Jacob (Valentine Dusot), Jean-Louis Trintignant (Joseph Kern), Jean Pierre Lorit (August Bruner), Frederique Feder (Karin), French with English subtitles, 99 minutes, 1994
Red BY DOUG HODGKINSON
ED COMPLETES THE TRILOGY based on the colours of the French flag and exploring the values of Liberty (Blue), Equality (White) and Fraternity (Red) that were trumpeted during the French Revolution. Not surprisingly, Red is the warmest and most complex story. Blue was an anti-tragedy and White was an anti-comedy so, Red is an antiromance. Valentine is a model in Geneva. She has a boyfriend in London who is jealous, demanding and immature and they maintain their relationship through frequent phone calls. August is a neighbour who is studying to be a judge but they never meet. Karin is August’s girlfriend who provides personalized weather reports over the phone but she is being unfaithful to August. Joseph Kern is a retired judge who lives in the upscale neighbourhood of
Carouge in Geneva whom Valentine meets when she runs over his dog, Rita, accidentally when she is out driving. She reports the accident to Kern and is taken aback by the supreme indifference displayed by what appears to be a lonely, bitter old man. She takes the dog to the vet who fixes up the dog but also informs her that Rita is pregnant. When she goes to report this to Kern he invites her in and reveals his
secret hobby which is to listen in and record the intimate telephone conversations of his neighbours. Valentine is disgusted by this and promptly goes off to inform neighbours and report the judge’s illegal activity. She loses her nerve when she is actually in the neighbour’s home and sees the destruction that will occur if she follows through. In Kern’s opinion it will make no difference since the family is on an as yet unrealized collision course with disaster. She reads in a newspaper that the judge has been exposed in his eavesdropping activities and when she goes by to explain that she has not said a word about it to anyone, he reveals that he turned himself in! He also wants to show her the litter that Rita has just had and he seems to take delight in it. Slowly, a platonic relationship begins to develop between this November-May couple. At one point he tells her of a case
in which he acquitted a sailor he later came to see was guilty but the man became an exemplary citizen. She invites him to attend a fashion show in which she is modeling. It is the night before she is about to leave for England, a trip in which he has advised her to take the train and the channel ferry. Following the show they sit and have a long conversation, mostly about him. He reveals that he was once in love with a woman who went off with someone else. She died about a year into this new relationship and then years later the man appeared before him in court. In this case, he convicted him. Kern tells her that he has had a dream of her at age 40 or so, happily in a relationship with an unknown man. This is a long, intimate, even romantic conversation, between two people who are not romantically involved.
So, Valentine leaves for England. We see Kern watching his television and there is news of a horrendous ferry accident in the channel. Only a few survive. Ironically they are; Julie and Olivier from Blue, Karol and Dominique from White, August, her neighbour whom she has not met and Valentine. It is a fraternity of characters whose lives have become closely connected but with little in common. Kieslowski explores spiritual questions without an explicit religious presentation; questions of destiny and choice; solitude and communication, cynicism and faith, doubt and desire. Lives are affected by forces beyond rationalization. Red weaves together threads prevalent throughout the trilogy; the imperfections of human laws, the prevalence of loss, the mystery of death, and the inevitability of resurrection. ❑
The Vicar of Kokanee remembers
Wadi Kelt BY JIM HEARNE
COUNT IT A PRIVILEGE to have been able to visit Palestine on two occasions. One was on a familiarization tour sponsored by Tourism Israel. The second was a clergy conference, fifty strong, replete with two bishops and all sorts and conditions of clergy and spouses. The only downside of this exercise was that all but three of the group elected to visit Cairo to shop, and only three of us (Colleen my wife, and I and the Rev. Gordon Jackson) made our way down the Sinai Peninsula to Santa Katarina to ascend the mount of the Decalogue. One day, a visit to Jericho was on our itinerary. We struck
out early in the morning. As one travels from Jerusalem to Jericho, a highway sign informs the traveller of being below sea level. Near that spot we encountered “The Inn of the Good Samaritan.” We stopped nearby at a goat skin tent that looked something like a geodesic dome. We were served strong, sweet tea. After a cup of that and a session with a spitting camel I wandered off to survey the landscape. I saw a shepherd wailing the tar out of some wild asses that had infiltrated his herd. The topography reminded one of the area where the man fell among thieves in the good Samaritan story.
After a short visit to the city of Jericho, we were ushered to a Greek Orthodox monastery, where we saw cable cars stretching across the valley used by the monks to insure solitude for their meditations. The community itself was carved out of the rock face. The blue and white flag of Greece caught our eyes. We approached the community by way of a stony path which bore the marks of an ancient stairway, and stood aside for a narrow gauge tractor and cart that was bringing in supplies. These vehicles are popular in the Middle East because they are able to negotiate the narrow streets.
Once again we were served the “strong, sweet tea” of the Holy Land with citrus fruits. These comestibles simply appeared on tables set out for that purpose, but none of the monks were ever seen. We only saw the lay workers toiling away at their tasks.
Another extraordinary feature of this community was that several of the former abbots were in evidence, laying in state in glass topped coffins in perfect preservation. This was the experience of Wadi Kelt, and its fascination calls me back for another visit. ❑
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In My Good Books
Listening to God by Joyce Huggett —
BY NEIL ELLIOT
ELCOME TO LENT, the time for us all to remember to slow down and deepen our connection with God. And when I do that I am always building on the base I established with this book, a long, long time ago. I couldn’t tell you exactly when I got this book, but it was in the early days of my conversion/re-commitment. I was hungry for God, and part of both a high Anglican church, and the evangelical Christian Union at university (There’s a story!) I had been on at least one retreat at a Franciscan monastery, which had been pretty mind blowing, and I was also experiencing the charismatic renewal movement. In all of this I felt I was treading a unique ( and sometime lonely) path. People seemed to be either committed evangelical
or catholic — or just going through the motions. Then I found this book which describes one woman’s journey deeper into a relationship with God. The woman was (is) an Anglican minister’s
wife, and was well connected in the Charismatic renewal which swept the UK in the 70s and 80s. She and her husband were part of a large and well known evangelical Anglican congregation in
Nottingham. But her journey with God had taken her to the Catholic Monasteries and Convents. The book describes this journey and the resources and practices she found on the journey. It is the story of a woman who was prepared to step outside the box of her tradition in order to grow in her relationship with God. It left many in her home church concerned, telling her she was “Betraying her evangelical heritage.” Even her husband was concerned, and at times “Our minds failed to meet.” The book is a record of her reconciliation of these two parts of our tradition, bringing the evangelical, catholic and charismatic together. For me it was an affirmation that it was, is, possible to hold these together, and laid the path for me to embrace liberalism too. As I
have suggested, the road was not easy for Huggett, and the book takes us through the pain and uncertainty as well as helping us find the joys of the deep spiritual path. I only discovered later that the book itself had meant leaving the publisher of her previous “orthodox” evangelical books and moving to a larger more secular publisher. If you are hungry for God, if you are looking for resources in your spiritual journey, if you are prepared to lay aside your prejudices in your search for the holy, then read this book. Huggett does not portray herself as an expert, but as a learner. She is open about her emotional and theological baggage, so we can trust her to guide us well. Not everything here is for you, but some things will be. Open your heart. Trust. Slow down. Listen for God. ❑
Lent: time of coming home
BY YME WOENSDREGT
e are well into the season of Lent. It’s an important season in the life of the church. In these 40 days, we focus our lives and our hearts more intentionally on God’s passion for the world. It’s a time of selfexamination as we renew our commitment to walk in the way of Christ, following the path of wholeness and compassion and healing. Above all, Lent is a season to remember that we have been baptized. God claims us. We belong to God. We are not our own. Our calling is to love what God loves, and to live out God’s gospel values: justice, compassion, peace, reconciliation, wholeness. As God has blessed us, so we bless others.
As God makes us whole, so we touch other lives gently and compassionately. As God includes us by grace in a community of hope and grace, so we reach out across all the barriers which keep us apart. On Ash Wednesday, our foreheads were marked with the cross in ashes. The ashes are a sign of our mortality as well as our repentance. Ashes are powerful symbols that “we are dust, and to dust we will return.” But like any true symbol, the ashes speak of more than one thing at a time. These ashes are also symbols of grace and hope. God takes the ordinary stuff of our mortality to call us home. Lent is a season of repentance. Now “repentance” is a terribly misunderstood word. Most dictionaries define it in terms of feeling remorse or regret, as if the best way to repent is to feel really really sorry for what we have done. That's a small part of repentance, but there is so much more.
Repentance has to do with changing one’s heart. It has more to do with a positive renewal of our loyalty to God than a negative assessment of our lives and feeling remorse. Repentance is more a way of living into the future than a process of regretting the past. I suggest that repentance is a process with two distinct movements. The first is to realize that we have moved away from God. One of the biblical metaphors for this is exile. We live in exile. Sometimes we make that exile for ourselves. We ignore God. Or we get so busy that God just fades into the background in our lives. Or we simply forget. Sometimes, other forces in our lives and the world distract us and draw us into exile. We lose our focus. Our attention is drawn away from what is central and most important in our lives. The first move of repentance, then, involves a new and growing awareness that there is a God-sized hole in our lives.
The second movement is to listen once again for the whisper of God in our lives. It’s a movement towards healing and wholeness, for which we all long. God whispers a word of life into our exile, giving birth to renewal and reorientation in our lives. God whispers words of wholeness and holiness. I love the way Archbishop Rowan Williams puts it. “Repentance happens when you suddenly see the abundance of God’s love and generosity in someone else and you come to the realization that you must change. Not only must you change, you want to. You want this in your life.” In Lent, we journey to the heart of our faith. We respond to God’s call to come home. We take small, faltering steps as we yield ourselves to God’s healing embrace. So, while Lent is a serious and solemn moment in our lives, it need not be gloomy or
depressing. We are being called home. We are being graciously invited to return to the heart of God. We are being embraced by God’s love. We are being healed by God’s insistent Spirit — healed in our personal lives and healed in our communities. So come again on this journey to the heart of our faith. Come, follow the one who promises us that above all else, we will find rest and healing.
This column has been written with the intention that it may be reprinted in local newspapers. for their religion page. Yme will be writing a short article each month expressly with this purpose in mind. You are free to reproduce the article without prior approval. Drop us a line anyway...
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