On a Saturday morning in mid-September, I was seated with three other people, forming a panel at a meeting of the board of ATR (Anglican Theological Review), a quarterly publication well known for its articles, poetry and book reviews. We were invited to speak to the subject of “testing the bonds of affection” and to offer some reflections on the state of relations within and among the churches of the Anglican Communion.
As we gathered in the chapel to celebrate Eucharist, our friend and colleague Barbara was preparing to smudge the altar. In attempting to light her sweetgrass braid from the altar candle, she held it too close to the flame and for a moment too long, and the flame sputtered and died.
This country’s First Nations people provide all of us with a foundation to help define what it means to be Canadian today. I have only gradually come to appreciate this, and invite you to join me in my discovery.
We are, on a daily basis, confronted with images of death: we see it in the news and on social media, on TV shows, movies and video games. We routinely hear about life-threatening diseases, mass shootings, massacres and disasters, and we witness public displays of grief and despair even from faraway places.
As I pointed to the shoebox on the table,the word “Sa-mar-i-tan” hovering behind me on the flip chart, I asked, “What goes in here?”All the hands in my Sunday school class shot up.
I would like to thank the Anglican Journal editor for giving me the opportunity to write this monthly column and for the latitude she is allowing me in terms of title, theme and content.
If there is to be hope for the future, our faith-filled response will be hard-fought and costly. It will require those with power to cast it aside.
One Sunday morning, I stopped in at the Starbucks directly across the street from the Cathedral. The barista asked about my clerical collar. When I told him I worked at the (large neo-gothic) church visible from his workstation, he commented on how nice it was to see it open and lamented that it was usually closed.
“I owe Mark some tomatoes,” she said, gruffly, handing me a basket at the back door.
For the past few years, it has been my practice to speak to indigenous youth about the critical role that they will play in our common future.