Sunday Reflection

“Whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me”! Matthew 10:38. Jesus continues to prepare the twelve for the continuation of his mission. He is both “teacher” and “master”. We are His disciples. There is so much to learn that we should never ourselves up as authorities independent of Jesus.

In fulfilling our duties as disciples of Christ, there will be challenges along the way. Do not be intimidated. We live in a time where all ungodly and godly behaviour are perceived in society. Now is the time to proclaim all that Jesus has told his disciples and us in verse twenty-seven of the appointed gospel for today.

Do not fear your oppressors for they can only end your physical life; rather hold God in awe, for he can “destroy” you totally if you do not do his will. God cares for the life of even a sparrow sold as food in the market), so “do not be afraid” of losing the real life.

Honest and forthright witness – and outright refusal to do so – will have eternal consequences. At the Last Day, Jesus will testify to the Father for those who have witnessed faithfully; he will declare those who turn against the gospel unworthy of life in the Kingdom.

What do you hear God is calling you to do? Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. The kingdom of God has come very near us, and when we suffer—and we will—we have the church, the Christian community where we “bear one another’s burdens,” as St. Paul said (Galatians 6:2).

In this Christian life, we are not spared from suffering, but when we suffer, God suffers along with us. And this suffering helps prepare us for eternal glory.

Prayer for St. Peter and St. Paul

Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified you by their martyrdom: Grant that your Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by your Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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Sunday Reflection

The Community of the Spirit: The Old Testament promises were understood to be fulfilled in the New where the gifts of salvation are attributed to the Spirit.  Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:35), Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness and sustained there (Lk 4:1ff) and the church is constituted by the Spirit.  This institutional gift of the Spirit came at Pentecost (‘the birthday of the church’), and from beginning days the Spirit was seen prompting every activity of the church, whether prophecy, service or the public confession of Christ that often lead to martyrdom.

Paul’s theology of the Spirit in the church grew from the experiences of these earliest Christians.  It is the Spirit which animates the body of Christ and pours the love of God into our hearts (Rom. 5.5).  All the gifts of grace are associated with the Spirit, and Paul describes the Spirit itself as inhabiting the church and individual Christians.  The gifts of the Spirit, knowledge and love of God and witness in all its forms, illuminate and even constitute the life of the church. Second Thessalonians attributes sanctification generally to the Spirit (2 Thess. 2:13).  The fourth gospel promises that the Spirit will remain with the church (Jn 14: 16, 25).

Given in a special way at baptism and manifested in the church, life in the Spirit unites Christians of every age and every place, but the action of the Spirit is not restricted to any group and it would be presumption to say so.  Like the wind, ‘The Spirit blows where it wills…but [we] do not know where it comes from or where it goes, so it is with everyone born of the Spirit’ (Jn 3: 8).  The Spirit cannot be tied down in time or place or any other way; the community of the Spirit transcends the church. (Joanne McWilliam, Christ Church, Deer Park, Toronto. The Anglican Church of Canada)

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Sunday Reflection

The Ascension: Christ, risen and glorified, reigning in heaven, and through the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.

Br. Geoffrey Tristram, SSJE.

This Ascension Sunday worship service is a wonderful celebration of hope.  And it is a day of encouragement.  A day to lift up our hearts, to rejoice – the Lord is King.

We are called to be stewards of hope: not a shallow optimism, but true Christian hope which is expressed not just in words, but by a life lived in deep communion with the one who is the source of hope.  The Letter to the Ephesians says, “As you come to know him, may the eyes of your heart be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you.” (1:17)

It is through prayer that we come to know him, through prayer that we come to know more profoundly in our hearts what is the hope to which we have been called.  In prayer, as our Collect puts it, we too ascend in heart and mind, and with him continually dwell.

And maybe an occasion to pledge that in the days ahead we will endeavor to be stewards of hope – that we will so live our lives and so pray our lives, that others will know what is the hope to which we have been called.  That however difficult or daunting our journey may be, we will continually lift up our eyes, and look to the glory.

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Sunday Reflection & Rector’s Corner

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments “John 14:15. It seems that Jesus has set a conditional statement prior to His Ascension to the Father. Perhaps, we, people of the resurrection, could look at this statement more of a reassurance to our faith. What do I mean by that?
If we are to ask the same question, do some church people set conditions before they engage themselves into the mission of the church. Do we say, “God, I will serve in the parish choir if you promise a successful career for me and my children.”
I do not think that Jesus questioned the faithfulness of His disciples.  This passage reaffirms the love Jesus shared with them throughout their shared public ministry. It is also an assurance that LOVE will continue to keep them together in the next phase of their faith journey.
Some of us may have asked why we keep on coming to our parish church. Why do we need to express our faith in God through common worship? I think we have to express our love to God and our love to one another through constant witnessing of God’s love and proclaiming His word and Sacrament.
We are a people of the resurrection. We are a people called out by God to proclaim His Kingdom and to love one another. It is our love for Jesus Christ that will keep His commandments in our hearts.
But it does not stop there. When we make our way to the altar and receive holy communion, we re-commit ourselves to build-up the kingdom of God. Then, ultimately out of the doors of the church where the real work begins. We are all called to be witnesses to the God we know – and our lives, our beings, our very essence should always reflect that. What is God calling us to proclaim in words and action? How can we be a channel of God’s love for all people?

Rector’s Corner: I continue to ask your prayers for our church family and friends, especially for our brother Hermon Pereira.

I also ask your prayers for Bishop Melissa Skelton, Tony Picher and all delegates to the Diocesan Synod this coming weekend.

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Sunday Reflection

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid”, he says a little later. John 14:27 Words of comfort to the disciples at the Last Supper.  We would surely prefer to not be troubled or afraid, but the world we live in gives us plenty to be troubled about and afraid of.  If we’re not troubled or afraid, at least sometimes, we’re not paying attention.
Our Psalm for this morning [Ps. 31]: “In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge…” And another Psalm: “My soul clings to you…” In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge…my soul clings to you, O Lord.  The main thing in our religion is not the ‘what’ or the ‘how’ or the ‘when’, it’s the You-You with a capital Y.  We cling to You, we take refuge in You, O Lord.
Our religion, at its best, is about God, about our relationship to God.  But religion per se is not God.  “In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge,” the Psalmist says-not in my religious practise, not in my religious beliefs.  In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge.  It’s the “you”, it’s God himself that is the object of our searching, the object of our desire, the culmination of our deepest aspirations.  Religion is how we got there.  A means to an end.  That which points to something greater.
If there is a You component of our faith, a You we cling to, a You we take refuge in, there is also a We.  We come before the You as a We.  We come before the You as a We even when we’re alone.  We’ve been given to one another in the Body of Christ, as the Body of Christ.  We don’t stand along.
Can we cling to the We? Can we take refuge in the We?  We are less than God, to be sure.  But as the Body of Christ the We has a very special place in the scheme of things. We who have been given to one another as the Body of Christ—and if we are the Body of Christ, we are the presence of Christ to one another.  Even if he seems to have gone missing.

You, We – Br. Mark Brown, SSJE 

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Sunday Reflection & Rector’s Corner

Sunday Reflection: On this Fourth Sunday of Easter, we encounter the Good Shepherd who is really the beautiful or noble shepherd who knows his flock intimately. In all three liturgical cycles the Fourth Sunday of Easter presents a passage from John’s Gospel about the Good Shepherd.

This ideal image of the shepherd finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Today’s Gospel passage presents to us one of the deepest mysteries of the human spirit.  Faith, the ability to hear and to follow a call, is a gift to Jesus and a gift to the followers of Jesus.  Why are some capable of hearing that which leads to faith?  Why are some capable of recognizing the Father in the words of Jesus?  The only answer presented is that faith is a gift.  Our God and his Son are shepherds that care for us and know us and even love us in our stubbornness, deafness and diffidence. Do we really rejoice in hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd?

Rector’s Corner: I would like to thank you all for supporting our spring potluck fellowship last night. Special thanks to James and Jaithra for sharing the work they do for their home parish in India. It was indeed a blessing for St. Michael’s to know more about your mission and ministry as one big Christian family in this world.

The 117th Synod of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster will be on May 26 and 27 in Vancouver. Our brother, Tony Picher, is our official Synod delegate. If you have concerns related to the life and works of our parish, please get in touch with Tony. Our hope is to take these concerns to Synod. I also ask you to pray for our Bishop, The Right Reverend Melissa Skelton, and all delegates to Synod as we continue to discern God’s calling to our ministry.

This year’s Tri-Parish Eucharist and Picnic will be on June 18th at Bear Creek Park. Come and Join us for a day of prayer, food and fun!

 

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Sunday Reflection

Athanasius: Bishop of Alexandria, Teacher of the Faith, 373 – Memorial, 2 May

Athanasius is one of the great heroes of the Christian tradition. As bishop of Alexandria from the year 328 until his death forty five years later, he defended the faith of the Church against a heresy known as Arianism.

The Arians taught that God’s only Son, the Word who became flesh as Jesus Christ, was not truly divine. Athanasius realized that this doctrine undercut the Christian assurance of salvation, because it meant that humans had no way of sharing in the very life and glory of God. But because the Word who became flesh was indeed true God, “one in Being with the Father,” all may enter into his own eternal union with the Father and the Holy Spirit. That is why Athanasius was so harsh against the Arians — he was fighting for the reality and the fullness of our salvation.

But the Arians had the support of several Roman emperors, and many other bishops saw nothing wrong in trying to reach a compromise which the Arians could accept. Athanasius stood firm — at times he even seemed to stand alone, and “Athanasius against the world” became a by-word of the age. He endured five periods of exile, yet his popularity among the citizens of Alexandria was so great that the Emperor once had to recall him in order to avoid insurrection in the city. The Church itself finally vindicated his stalwart witness, and it is due to him, more than to any other teacher, that we still have the Nicene Creed.

Prayer: O God, by the grace of your wisdom your blessed servant Athanasius stood fast against all error and false compromise in defense of the true divinity of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Stir our hearts to ponder your Word, and grant us never to faint or fear in our proclamation of your saving mystery; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is one with you and the Holy Spirit, true God, now and for ever. Amen.

“The Word was with God, and the Word was God; and the Word became flesh and lived among us.”  John 1.1, 14 (For All the Saints, The Anglican Church of Canada)

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