Monday, April 21, 2014

And now ...

So that's that then.

I set myself a goal to blog every day of Lent, and I achieved it (although each day's blog usually ended up posted the next day). 

The result was that I have already blogged in just two months of 2014 more posts that all of 2013 or all of 2012, and this post will put me just one down from all of 2011.

I actually feel good about having gotten back to the discipline of blogging regularly.

That said, I'm not sure I want to continue a discipline of blogging every day. On the other hand, I know full well how easily a few days can become a few weeks and then suddenly it's been months.

There has been some online cultural change since I started blogging. More debate an commentary now occurs elsewhere in the interwebs. This was never a site big on long discussions, but now it is very unusual to received more than one or two comments here - and far more common to received none at all. The discussion happens on Facebook (and to a lesser extent Twitter), and sometimes on threads on other people's walls where I am then not even part of the discussion. It is a curious dynamic.

So by way of experimentation, I will set myself a standard of blogging at least every Sunday evening. This isn't so far from the discipline I kept when I was blogging regularly. Then I would aim to blog once a week, so if seven days had gone by, I'd make it a point to get writing. But "no more than seven days," while seemingly tangible, is easier to get lost in the day to day business of living. "It's Sunday eveing" has a far more useful specificity.

So for Eastertide (after all, Easter is 50 days long), that will be my minimum standard.

Wish me luck.

Glimpses of the Triduum

A handful of glimpses of the past three days:

Yet another opportunity to quote from Bishop Frank Weston's address to the 1923 Anglo-Catholic Congress.

A wee child taking off her sock to participate in the foot washing.

One of the teenagers saying that, after stripping the sanctuary on Maundy Thursday, "It looked so ... lonely."

Last minute liturgical replanning just before the start of the Good Friday Cross Walk.

Braving the weather to walk from church building to church building in the Rosemont neighbourhood on Good Friday.

The same teenager eagerly volunteering to carry the cross during the Cross Walk.

An excellent walkthrough on Saturday morning before the parish's first ever Easter Vigil.

The novelty and power of the new fire on the step of the church building.

Listening to recording artist Sharon Gudereit singing the Exultet at the beginning of  the Easter Vigil. (You can listen here.)

A little confusion but a quick recovery as we reset the sanctuary while the organist played an extended fanfare based on Judas Maccabaeus (which was grand whatever my Jacobite misgivings).

A little girl less enamoured of a washing and kicking her shoes off at the prospect of being baptised on Sunday morning.

Some surprise among parishioners at the deployment of an aspergillium during morning worship.

Services at a care home in the afternoon and at a seniors residence in the evening.

And, to round out your Easter Day experience, here's a bit of Handel with no downside for my Jacobite heart.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hell took a body, and discovered God.

Are there any who are devout lovers of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!

Are there any who are grateful servants?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!

If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.
For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.

To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.
Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!

First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!
You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!

Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hell when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.

Isaiah foretold this when he said,
"You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."
Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.

Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

O death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!

Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

The Easter sermon of John Chrysostom (circa 400 AD)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

We Wait

Station 14: Jesus Is Carried Into The Tomb
from the Stations of the Cross by Vancouver artist Chris Woods
originally commissioned for St. David of Wales Anglican Church, Vancouver

The parish has since closed. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Love each other as Christ loves us - not any less

I'd meant to take the recorder to Church this evening to record the sermon. Indeed, no more than two minutes before we left, I'd been holding it in my hand. And since I don't really do sermon notes, there is no other way of sharing what I might have had to say. Which may be unfortunate, given that my wife thinks this was a particularly meaningful effort.

I touched on three significant things Jesus said or did on this night, beginning with the saying which gives the night its name: Maundy, from the Latin Mandatum meaning Commandment. As in, "A new commandment - to love one another as I have loved you.

I've sometimes noted the conditional nature of one of the petitions in the Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us." In other words, we ask God to forgive us to precisely the same degree we forgive others - not any less; not any more. Likewise Jesus admonishes us to love each other to precisely the degree he loves us, no less. He sets the bar high.

That love is given practical expression in the service he performs, washing the feet of his disciples. That love he calls us to have needs to have practical expression, mostly outside the walls of our Church buildings.

And finally he gives us a meal. The purpose of a meal is to nourish our bodies to do the work they need to do. The purpose of this meal is to nourish us spiritually so that we have the strength to act out our love in service as he commands and demonstrates.

And this led me to close by referring again to Frank Weston's stirring call to the Anglo-Catholic Congress in 1923:
Oh brethren! if only you listen to-night your movement is going to sweep England. If you listen. I am not talking economics, I do not understand them. I am not talking politics, I do not understand them. I am talking the Gospel, and I say to you this: If you are Christians then your Jesus is one and the same: Jesus on the Throne of his glory, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus received into your hearts in Communion, Jesus with you mystically as you pray, and Jesus enthroned in the hearts and bodies of his brothers and sisters up and down this country. And it is folly—it is madness—to suppose that you can worship Jesus in the Sacraments and Jesus on the Throne of glory, when you are sweating him in the souls and bodies of his children. It cannot be done. 
There then, as I conceive it, is your present duty; and I beg you, brethren, as you love the Lord Jesus, consider that it is at least possible that this is the new light that the Congress was to bring to us. You have got your Mass, you have got your Altar, you have begun to get your Tabernacle. Now go out into the highways and hedges where not even the Bishops will try to hinder you. Go out and look for Jesus in the ragged, in the naked, in the oppressed and sweated, in those who have lost hope, in those who are struggling to make good. Look for Jesus. And when you see him, gird yourselves with his towel and try to wash their feet.

And now the Sanctuary is bare, the organ stilled, the Tabernacle empty.

And we wait.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Most often, we think of the Church experience over the next few days as three (or more) services. In fact, it is a single liturgy which begins this evening and continues until Sunday morning.

Tonight, tomorrow and Saturday are one long feast for the senses 
as we taste, touch, smell, hear and see God’s love made manifest 
in bread and wine; 
in water and towel; 
in fire and oil;
in word and action;
in sign, symbol and sacrament. 

What is the meaning of all that we do these Three Days? 

Love is the meaning. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Yesterday, Ottawa Citizen columnist Glen McGregor offered up Why a state funeral for Jim Flaherty? While I don't particularly begrudge the late Mr. Flaherty a state funeral, I do think it is a fair question. There are legitimate reasons to relax, expand or adapt protocol, but the rationale for doing so should be clear.

Lying in State of Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald

In Canada, serving Ministers of the Crown are entitled to state funerals. Governors General, former Governors General, Prime Ministers and former Prime Ministers are likewise so entitled. But former Cabinet Ministers are not. Cabinet giants like C.D. Howe and Paul Martin Sr. did not have state funerals. The rationale for giving a state funeral to Jim Flaherty is far from clear. Prior to 2011, the only exception to the established list was Father of Confederation D'Arcy McGee, who also had the distinction of being the first victim of a political assassination in Canada.

The reference to the year 2011 is significant, because McGregor then argues:
The tradition was sharply altered when Prime Minister Stephen Harper used his discretion to extend the honour to Jack Layton, then Leader of the Opposition.

Here I quibble with McGregor.

You see, the word unprecedented can be a bit funny. Sometimes, it means that there is no precedent for the specific action. For example, there are ample precedents that former Cabinet Ministers are not entitled to a state funeral. Therefore the granting of state funeral to Jim Flaherty is unprecedented.

But it can as easily mean that there is no precedent at all. In the late summer of 2011 there was no precedent that a serving Leader of the Opposition was entitled to a state funeral. As importantly, however, there was no precedent that a serving Leader of the Opposition was not so entitled.

Only one other federal Leader of the Opposition has died in office. In 1919, Sir Wilfrid Laurier died while still in office as Leader of the Opposition. Sir Wilfrid did have a state funeral, but he was a former Prime Minister. Thus the fact of his state funeral did not constitute a clear precedent that a future Leader of the Opposition who had not been Prime Minister would be so entitled.

Funeral procession for Sir Wilfrid Laurier

No other serving Leader of the Opposition had ever died in office, so while there was no precedent to say that Jack Layton should get a state funeral, there was also no precedent to say that he should not. The only (albeit tenuous) protocol guidance would be that, for most protocol purposes, a serving Leader of the Opposition is treated as the social equivalent as a serving Minister of the Crown.

At the end of the day, it was up to the Governor General (on the advice of the Prime Minister) to decide if Jack Layton would have a state funeral, and I think it showed tremendous grace and courtesy on Stephen Harper's part to choose as he did.

But he did not "sharply alter" the protocol. He addressed a gap in the protocol and thereby established a precedent going forward. Henceforth we know that a serving Leader of the Opposition who dies in office is entitled to a state funeral.

With apologies to liturgical purists, I leave you with Stephen Page's performance of Leonard Cohen's Halleujah at the state funeral for the Honourable Jack Layton.