Effective August 1, St. Paul’s Anglican Church will be saying goodbye to our current “Priest in Charge” Shirley Stockdill and welcoming The Rev. Jessica Schaap as our new Rector. The Bishop has set the date of the Induction of The Reverend Jessica Schaap to St Paul’s for Tuesday, August 6th at 7:30 pm. St Paul’s looks forward to this celebration with our new Rector. Please join us.
At this Psalm Writing workshop with Ray McGinnis you are invited to have a fresh encounter with the Psalms. Ray will discuss several of the Psalms and their relevance for our lives today, drawing on his own insights and those who gather. He will give attention to several highly accessible prompts for beginning to write our own new psalms and spiritual poems or prayers. Through his step-by-step approach to instruction no one will be left behind. Both seasoned writers and those who have never put pen to paper will find an engaging and creative setting for new and unfolding self-expression. During the workshop there is opportunity to jot things down, to be still and to write. After a time of writing there is time to optionally share with others what has emerged from putting pen to paper. Past participants have commented that some of the outcomes they appreciated from this workshop include:
- Increased appreciation of the psalms when they are read in a worship service;
- Appreciation of the poetry in the Psalms alongside other spiritual poetry by St. Francis of Assisi and others;
- New bursts of creativity and access to creative self-expression through writing;Strengthened relationship with God and Christ;
- Discovery of practical tools for journal-writing and psalm-writing to accompany spiritual growth;
- The workshop leaders non-judgmental tone encouraging participants to express themselves through writing without judging themselves or others;
- Gathering together to learn in a circle and the surprisingly fast way that community is built between friends and strangers;
- A contemplative style of leadership that honors the movement of the spirit and entering into mystery as we approach God with our own new Psalms.
Ray has been a writer for the “Seasons of the Spirit” curriculum since 2005. He is author of Writing the Sacred: A Psalm-inspired Path to Appreciating and Writing Sacred Poetry (Northstone, 2005). His Psalm writing workshop, Writing the Sacred, is one of a menu of different writing workshops he teaches, along with prayer-writing workshops, journal-writing workshops for grief and loss, journaling for health and wellness, and poetry and nature walking workshops. Since 1999, he has taught across Canada and to churches in thirty-five states in the USA. When he is not away on tour, he usually worships at Christ Church Cathedral. For more information visit his website at www.writetotheheart.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – APRIL 2ND, 2013
Bishop Michael Ingham announced today he will be retiring from his position on August 31st, 2013.
“The Diocese of New Westminster has been at the forefront of positive change in the Church for decades” he said. “From the ordination of women, to support for indigenous peoples, to the dignity of gay and lesbian Christians, to inter-faith dialogue – it has been a privilege to serve a Diocese living and growing at some of the leading edges of the Anglican Church of Canada.”
“Easter is a good time to look forward to the gift of new life both for myself, and for the Diocese.”
Bishop Michael said he was particularly pleased to announce the creation of two new initiatives in mission as his final act of leadership. One is a new ministry to Korean Anglicans to be located at St. Stephen’s Church in Burnaby. The other is a Filipino Anglican ministry to begin at Bishop Hills’ Memorial Church in Vancouver. Both will commence later this year.
The Bishop will attend the Canadian-African Bishops International Dialogue in Cape Town, South Africa, at the end of April.
He will preside over the regular annual Diocesan Synod in May (which will not be an electoral Synod), and will ordain two new deacons in June. The Bishop will lead the diocesan delegation to the General Synod in Ottawa in July.
Bishop Michael has served as the 8th Bishop of New Westminster since January 1994. He is currently the longest-serving active Anglican Bishop in Canada. He is the author of two books: Rites For a New Age (1985), and Mansions of the Spirit (1997), as well as numerous articles and essays in other books and publications.
Simon Fraser University will honour him with the Degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) in June this year.
He holds degrees of Doctor of Divinity from both the Vancouver School of Theology (1998) and the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts (2009).
The process of the election of a new bishop, which is governed by the Canons of the Diocese, will commence at the April meeting of Diocesan Council. Chancellor George Cadman will advise the Council at that time on the next steps to be taken.
The Dean of the Diocese, the Very Reverend Peter Elliott, will, in accordance with Diocesan Canons, assume administrative responsibilities as Commissary on September 1st until a new bishop is installed.
For further information please contact the Diocese of New Westminster
A thought provoking Lenten project here at St. Paul’s. A friend asked the other day what I was giving up for Lent. I replied ‘nothing’ because I choose instead to take on something. This friend looked at me like I had just spoken in tongues, unable to fathom what any of this meant. When they pressed further about what it was I was taking on, I said graffiti street art inside the church. I have never seen someone laugh so hard in my life- I actually think they stopped breathing. This was the truth though. Together with Clare and artists from all over the Diocese we began a project at the beginning of Lent which gave folks the space to physically write the wounded nature of their dark nights onto the cold stone of our heritage building.
Our wounded nature is a human nature we all share, something that for Christians is expressed over lent through the station’s of the Cross. This physical exploration of faith in light of Christ’s last actions on earth brings us to a deeper understanding of who and what we are in the midst of our common faith. Taking the fourteen biblical stations of the cross, Clare and I have invited participants to meditate on one of six common themes through which they write their icons. These stations are prayer, judgment, succor, crucified, relationship, death. The stations are being installed in order over a random schedule between now and Easter Sunday, with the final station of Christ’s burial and conquering over death being written into our Pascal candle. Each wound has a person at prayer as the tag or street identifier of the artist involved. These tags are the unifying images through which the whole project is brought together- we all pray our lives, especially our wounded lives. The images at prayer encompass people from all different religious backgrounds from Muslim to Buddhist and everything in between.
In order to engage with the community Clare and I have actively engaged social media through twitter and the blogosphere to post comments, reflections, pictures, and sermon tidbits. We can be found on twitter @Stpaulsartguild, come and check us out. To engage with the larger community outside the parish, we are also keeping the church open every Wednesday evening from 7:30-8:30 with live music and a space for prayer. This open house for prayer will continue every day over Holy Week from 7:30-8:30 with live spoken word on the street at 7:30-7:45, followed by live music in the church. Good Friday will see an adapted stations of the Cross take place starting at 6:30pm with silent prayers before the cross and the stations beginning at 7pm.
story by Alex Wilson originally posted on “The Diocese of New Westminster” website at http://www.vancouver.anglican.ca/Home/tabid/161/ArticleId/1705/Default.aspx
24 March 2013, Palm Sunday, 8am, 10am (starting at Nelson Park)
25 March 2013, Monday in Holy Week, 7pm: Holy Eucharist
26 March 2013, Tuesday in Holy Week, 7pm: Holy Eucharist
27 March 2013, Wednesday in Holy Week, 7pm: Holy Eucharist
28 March 2013, Maundy Thursday, 7pm: Liturgy of Maundy Thursday (Foot Washing, Holy Eucharist, Stripping of Altar)
29 March 2013, Good Friday, 12noon: Liturgy of Good Friday (Veneration of the Cross, Communion from the Reserved Sacrament)
30 March 2013, Easter Eve, 9pm: The Great Vigil of Easter & First Eucharist of Easter
31 March 2013, Easter Day, 8am, 9.15am, 11am: Holy Eucharist
ANNUAL VESTRY, Meeting II
Meeting after the 10:00am service (meeting will be in the Lower Hall).
March 3: Voting on acceptance of 2013 budget. Election of officers of the parish.
Lunch will be served following the meeting.
Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on the journey of faith, you are welcome here.
With these comforting and familiar words, Markus so often invited us all into the warmth and acceptance of the community he helped nurture and grow at St. Paul’s. We shared a wonderful journey of almost nine years. With both sadness and joy we bid farewell to our beloved Priest at the end of 2012, when after much prayer and reflection, he embraced God’s call to serve as Rector at St. John the Evangelist in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Markus’s had a profound and indelible impact on our lives and on the mission and ministry of St. Paul’s. He modeled trust in God, and listening to the Spirit. His character, depth, openness and truly pastoral heart touched and uplifted lives within and outside our community. His guidance and support helped so many grow towards greater fulfillment of baptismal living. With his leadership, commitment and energy we were inspired to journey into a deeper discovery of our potential, and of who we are as a community. We will dearly miss him. Yet it is so exciting to consider what lies ahead for him in Scotland!
On December 15th we held a celebration banquet for Markus, with a sumptuous feast in the Labyrinth. No such event honouring Markus would have been complete without humour and at least a little teasing. To this end we conducted a mock ‘exit interview’ which Markus improvised through with his customary wit and panache. Needless to say there were a few curve balls, but he fielded them all. When asked ‘Which of the 12 Apostles would you like to date?’ without skipping a beat he quipped “Mary Magdalene.’ And that wasn’t the silliest question….
Billy Sutherland and other members who regularly attend the 9:15 service also collectively knitted and assembled a lovely green themed stole, which they presented to Markus at the service on December 23.
Markus’s final service at St. Paul’s was on December 30th. In St. Paul’s style, we celebrated afterwards with a cake, custom made by John Wilson.
Among his many strengths and gifts, Markus is a remarkable and natural preacher, one who ‘knocks it out of the park’ on a regular basis. His final sermon was especially innovative and moving, capturing his deep understanding and love for us and expressing his hopes for our future.
You can read it on our website: http://stpaulsanglican.bc.ca/
On December 31st Markus presided over a final Eucharist in the Labyrinth. It was a tender and profound moment as we heard him finish with these words, now also so very familiar and meaningful to us.
Dear Markus, we wish the same for you, as you journey onward, discovering and following God’s path and purpose for your life.
Live without fear: your Creator has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a good mother. Go in peace to follow the good road and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be with you always. Amen.
(story by Ross Bliss, photo by Sandra Vander Shaaf)
NEW YEAR’S EVE
1) in the Labyrinth Hall
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM in the Labyrinth – New Year’s Eve Service of the Eucharist with Rev. Markus Dunzkofer. All are welcome!
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM in the Labyrinth – Walk the Labyrinth to the didgeridoo and more with David Yates.
8:00 PM – 10:00 PM in the Labyrinth – Walk the Labyrinth to the voice, crystal bowls, guitar, and beyond with Theda Phoenix.
10:00 PM – 11:00 PM in the Labyrinth – Circle dancing led by Corinne Chepil – All are welcome to join in. Note, the Labyrinth is not available for walking at this time.
11:00 PM – 12:15 AM in the Labyrinth – Labyrinth walking to solo clarinet with Johanna Hauser.
2) in the Church Sanctuary
7:00 PM – 7:45 PM – Join Kira Van Deusen in the Sanctuary for storytelling and music (“Ebony Horse” from “Thousand and One Nights”).
9:30 PM – 12:15 AM – Enjoy food and refreshments in the Church Sanctuary along with friendly conversation. Wine – $2 per serving
New Years Day
Jan 1, 2013
10am – 2pm
Please join us New Years Day for our annual “New Years Day Walk”. A silent walk will be held from 10am – 12noon followed by a walk to the cello music of Kira Van Deusen from 12noon – 2pm.
Food will be served in the Church Sanctuary. ALL ARE WELCOME!
St. Paul’s Labyrinth officially launches its own dedicated YouTube channel.
Currently, they present two new videos for sharing:
1) Introduction to St. Paul’s Labyrinth
This short video introduces the history and community offerings available at St. Paul’s Labyrinth, since opening in 1997. Share a glimpse of this ancient practice of reflection, healing and celebration with your friends!
2) Music for the Labyrinth
Kira Van Deusen performs three improvisations for solo cello recorded at St. Paul’s Labyrinth. Kira is featured regularly at the labyrinth as a music performer and storyteller and is also a certified Veriditas labyrinth facilitator.
From the “Vancouver Observer” – Oct 25th, 2012
It’s Palm Sunday, and I’m standing in Nelson Park with parishioners from St. Paul’s Anglican Church, waiting to proceed to the church on Jervis Street two blocks away.
There’s a trumpeter, a trombonist, a few drummers and choir members in robes. A few people hand out palm leaves. After the priest, Markus Dünzkofer, tells us how we will proceed, he adds, “If bystanders ask what we’re doing, refer them to Clare, our seminarian.”
Everybody laughs. Clare looks uneasy.
I am here, after all, as a journalist, not a churchgoer.
Once inside the church, after the Opening Versicle, the Hosannas, hymns, prayers, the Gospel, and Confession and Absolution comes the Peace, during which we all turn and nod to one another, or shake hands briefly and say: “Peace be with you.”
I know the drill.
But what’s this? It goes on and on. People wander up and down the centre aisle, in and out of the pews, embracing one another and greeting more and more people.
I think: Good Lord, we’ll be here until Tuesday! Let’s get on with it.
The truth is I’m uncomfortable. All of this flies in the face of what I’d come to view as the stuffiness of the Anglican Church. Not that I like stuffiness. It’s just that all this kissing and hugging throws me off balance.
The truth is these people seem to know and care about each other in a way I don’t normally associate with church.
My reaction surprises me. Even more surprising is that I return for Good Friday services and again for Easter Vigil.
“The Anglican Church isn’t the church of your grandmother and grandfather,” Markus Dünzkofer tells me in a phone interview many weeks later.
Apparently, it’s also no longer the Church of the Empire, or the last bastion of British immigrants in Canada, an image that many Anglicans have been trying to change for years now. And Dünzkofer, a German who studied theology in Edinburgh and was ordained in Chicago, is emblematic of that change.
Curiosity and openness
“We’re an ever-changing community,” Dünzkofer explains, “a crazy and wonderful community. There’s an openness at St. Paul’s, a real curiosity about people, a willingness to engage with the divine, with each other and the neighborhood.”
The young woman to whom Markus Dünzkofer wanted to refer questions during the procession on Palm Sunday is seminarian Clare Morgan, aged 27, a self-proclaimed “Christian punk Goth.”
“I’m like normal here, not anybody’s mascot,” she says. “I still consider myself part of the Cathedral, but you come in with tattoos and a weird haircut and people love you, but they’re a little titillated to know someone like you. I never noticed until I was at St. Paul’s that no one here made assumptions. People don’t kind of slot you into something like: Oh look! A young person with blue hair!”
“We may look as if we’re all WASPS,” says parishioner Leslie Buck, “but you look a bit deeper, and there’s an impressive diversity: Dutch, German, French, Turkish, Iranian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish.”
Ordination of women and same-sex marriage
A British-born, life-long Anglican, Buck came to St. Paul’s in 1993 when he and his wife moved here from Ottawa.
“We do things now that would have appalled people 50 years ago,” says Buck citing the ordination of women and same-sex marriage. He also cites shifts in the teaching.
“There was a time when the message was primarily keep your nose clean and don’t worry too much about what you do at work the rest of the week. Nowadays more is made of the social gospel, issues like homelessness and poverty. Which is not to say that one’s individual relationship with God or one’s behavior is not an issue, but the church is also responding to the world.”
Buck gives me a bit of St. Paul’s history. The church was first formed in Yaletown, and parishioners included Canadian Pacific Railway workers and their families.
As people prospered, they moved to the West End to build mansions. In fact, a friend of mine insists it was Benjamin Tingley Rogers (of BC Sugar fame) who started the trend in 1900 by building his massive stone house on the corner of Davie and Nicola. And when Mr. and Mrs. Rogers moved on to Shaughnessy, the socially ambitious followed suit, which in turn marked the beginning of what the West End has become today—primarily apartments and condos for single people, small families, and pensioners.
The present St. Paul’s was built in 1905, at a time when the West End was still home to Vancouver’s prosperous.
“The original ethos and style remained much the same from 1905 until 1985 when last of the old style rectors retired. David Crawley took his place and started to change things. The church started ministering to AIDS patients. The change came from the rector, but gradually everyone became supportive and more gay people came into the church, which changed the make-up of the congregation.”
Change or close
“After World War II and up to the eighties,” says Dünzkofer, “the parish thought of themselves as the bastion of English. David Crawley gave them a choice: change or close.
He flung the doors open, and people came in: prostitutes and drag queens. It’s heartbreaking reading the records in the mid 80s. There were three or four funerals a week during the AIDS pandemic. People came to think of us as the gay church. I would not use that term. We are the West End church. We reflect the particular make-up of the neighborhood. We put energy into the questions of poverty in the neighborhood, and what it means to be a Christian with social conscience, and how to be a traditional Christian community that’s open to welcome people in, without losing identity.”
“I think the easiest answer is worship,” Dünzkofer continues. “It’s the centre of who we are. I still think it opens ways into the mysteriousness of God—that constant rhythm of prayer. It empowers us to do the work we’ve been given to do. We are very much a praying community.“
In 1995, St. Paul’s established its Advocacy Office to provide information and support to anyone in the community who sought help with housing problems, legal problems, immigration issues, welfare applications, and other access to government services. The office used to see around 1,000 clients a year. Now it’s over 3,000.
St. Paul’s also supports Our House, a recovery house for people trying to break free of addiction to drugs and alcohol.
“We have a grant for a full-time homeless outreach worker,” says Dünzkofer. “The neighborhood puts a high demand on the church. Other parishes have more advocacy resources. We need to be creative in finding more resources for that.”
Some in the community know St. Paul’s because it’s where their chorus meets, or their regular 12-step meeting is. Others know it because it’s church hall houses a labyrinth that one can walk as a meditation.
“The labyrinth program was first established by people in the church,” says Leslie Buck, “but it opened itself up to the community in general, so we find people coming there who have very little to do with the church. Some wouldn’t be caught dead in the church.”
When I ask about St. Paul’s future, everyone seems to point to the past. In other words, they feel they can lean into the reconciliatory history of the Anglican Church, and its stand for freedom of thought and expression.
“The saint of the Anglican Church was Elizabeth I,” says Buck. “She established the importance of common prayer over a confession of faith. And that has persisted. We’re more open to individual interpretation, to the spirit rather than the letter of the law.”
Buck is optimistic about St. Paul’s future.
“My optimism lies in the current situation, on the people who are here and the way in which they go about their business. “In general people here are of good will. The Spirit is among us. If we keep our wits about us and don’t get complacent, I have hope for the future, though I have no idea what it will be.”
Seminarian Clare Morgan says, “I still hold out for a church where we try as hard as we can to stay together as a family, with a commitment to talking and sharing stories. A lot of fundamentalists go and split and form another church and keep splitting. A friend of mine likes to say ‘We’re good at being heretics, but we don’t like to be schismatic.’ So we yell at each other, but we’re all still Anglican.”
A deepening identity, advocacy and community
From Dünzkofer’s point of view, St. Paul’s future includes a deepening sense of identity. “I crave tradition that creates mystery,” he says, “that sense of the numinous. We also want to experience liturgy that meets people where they are. Some conversation needs to happen [about this], and we have great resources to deal with that. It is our tradition—the language of the people—and worship is a common experience. Praying together—that’s how we find out what God is telling us to do.”
St. Paul’s has faced many changes in the past 27 years. And now it faces yet another. At the end of Sunday’s service on October 21, one of the Church Wardens stepped forward to announce that Markus Dünzkofer has been called to be the next rector of St John’s Episcopal Church in Edinburgh, and he has accepted. He will be leaving St. Paul’s at the end of December.
Dünzkofer says what impressed him most about St. Paul’s when he arrived eight-and-a-half years ago was “the intentionality of ministry in this community—in worship and music and the labyrinth. They were intentional about building it and intentional about getting the community involved. It’s the same thing with advocacy.”
One senses that this same intentionality along with discerning prayer and dialogue will be what carries St. Paul’s through its next set of changes.
In their book “Mighty Story, Dangerous Rituals” theologians Herbert Anderson (with whom I studied in Chicago) and Edward Foley challenge the church to reclaim the importance of story and the importance of ritual for her ministry and mission: On the one hand the church’s mission should be about proclaiming with gusto God’s story in creation and about celebrating worship that reflects the mysterious, yet profound truth how God chose to be revealed. On the other hand it should also be about pastorally providing theological meaning to our own stories and about creating rituals that celebrate the uniqueness of who and what God created us to be in our life’s journey. The church is the place where God’s story and our story intersect and where rituals coming forth from this intersection transform our lives and transform the cosmos.
And of course, these stories are not just idle bed-time stories.
God’s self-revelation in creation, which is proclaimed and made known by the sages, crones, and prophets of both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Second Testament, and the story of God’s coming into the flesh in Jesus are awesome stories. And when we hold our stories into the light of God’s story, then our stories are awesome, too. Yes, God’s story and our stories are indeed mighty stories.
Equally, when we gather in Christ’s name to worship, pray, sing, make music, listen, dance, embrace, laugh, cry, confess, reconcile, confirm, bless, marry, bury, anoint, baptise, brake bread, and retell the story of our salvation and the stories of our lives, then we do not just do so for reasons of artistic beauty or human amusement. No, what we do impacts the world around us. Our rituals bring light into darkness, life into death, and love into a world overcome by oppression, sin, injustice, and war. And thus, our rituals threaten the way the world runs. Our rituals are a menace to the powers of the world. Yes, they are indeed dangerous rituals.
Mighty Story. Dangerous Rituals.
And yet, far too often we do not live up to either of these two elements of our identity. We either are embarrassed by the story or bored by the rituals. Sometimes, the profound radicalism of our story and rituals overwhelms us. It’s too much. Too much for our sensibilities and too much for what we perceive to be the sensibilities of the word. Let’s not upset the stomach of our friends and neighbours, right?
There is nothing wrong with sharing our story and celebrating our rituals in a way that is loving and compassionate, and doesn’t negate the other. In fact, it is our call. But at times our discomfort and our desire to please and accommodate turns our story into platitudes and renders our rituals meaningless. At times we do indeed forget (or avoid remembering) that what we proclaim is a mighty story and what we gather for are dangerous rituals.
Today is case in point.
Today we celebrate the feast of St Luke the Evangelist: We celebrate his story and we celebrate the anointing for healing. It is a mighty story. And it is a dangerous ritual.
But are willing to engage the story and the ritual on all levels, with all that we are and all that we have? Are we willing to hear the mightiness and engage in the danger?
We tend to think of the authors of our Holy Scriptures as religious professionals. Ideally, we place them in some monastery-like set-up, dress them in long flowing robes, and plant long flowing beards onto their faces. In addition to the fact that this turns all those who recorded our sacred story into old men, preferably white, straight, celibate, old men (which is problematic in itself and cannot be warranted by scripture at all), this description also turns the prophets, scribes, letter-writers, and Evangelists into benign figures very much rooted in the life of the institution. And not unlike the pictures we have of all religious professional, including modern day priests, we force onto these biblical authors a particular and exclusive job-description: It was their job to record. It was their job to write down. And it was and remains their job to share and proclaim. Furthermore, we then claim that their job has nothing to do with our job-description – or I should say your job-description, because I am, after all, a religious professional, beard and all.
However, Luke’s story – and by this I do not mean the mighty story recorded in the Gospel named after him, but his personal story – Luke’s story is a story that challenges this perception, that even overthrows any idea of compartmentalisation, of limiting religious work to a certain group of people. You might think that evangelism, advocacy, and outreach, the job of mission, is best left to religious professionals, but it ain’t so!
Luke was indeed an Evangelist, a person writing down the account of the mighty story of God’s self-revelation in the birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. But Luke was not a religious professional. In fact, Luke’s vocation in life was that of a physician. He was trained to be a doctor, not a rabbi, priest, or Evangelist. And yet, God used him to reveal the Good News of God in Jesus Christ. God can and does work outside religious professionals. When Luke’s life intersected with the life of Jesus, Luke’s life changed. And not just his life. The story of the cosmos was irreversibly altered, too.
And our stories are as much capable to change the world if we let them intersect with God’s story. God calls and works through us all, through all our stories.
This world-changing reality of God’s outreach to us also influences the second unique aspect of today’s service: the sacramental anointing for healing.
On the surface it might appear that the reason for inviting all of you to partake of sacramental anointing today is the mere fact that Luke was a physician, was in the business of healing. And this is very much true.
However, there is another dimension.
Yes, Luke was a physician. Luke was in the business of healing. In order to do so, though, he had to understand a lot about disease and illness. For example, he probably knew that healing and cure are not the same and that healing could come without a cure. Healing means first and foremost recognising and embracing God’s compassionate presence in the midst of pain and darkness. And, yes, that might lead to cure. But it might lead to something quite different, something that brings our whole being in line with the divine will, whatever that will might be.
And Luke probably also understood that illness and disease were not just the underlying elements of individual suffering. Luke recognised that society, the world, and indeed the entire cosmos were plagued by disease and illness that had nothing to do with viruses, bacteria, malformed cells, or imbalanced bodily chemicals. It is illness that is fueled by our own inability to embrace God’s compassion and grace. It is disease that comes from our failure to fully claim who God created us and the cosmos to be. This disease and this illness wreak havoc on creation, creating war and injustice, exploiting others and our own bodies, and poisoning the environment as much as our own spiritual well-being. This sickness and this illness is a present darkness that blinds us to the beauty God created for us: the beauty of our own selves, the beauty of our sisters and brothers, whoever they are, and the beauty of creation.
When Jesus’ story intersected with Luke’s story Luke’s eyes were opened to see that God’s healing comes to us in Jesus, and it is a healing not just in body, mind, and spirit, it is a healing also of our societal ills. Luke understood that in Jesus the scripture had been fulfilled: Jesus brings good news to the poor, proclaims release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, lets the oppressed go free, and proclaims the year of the Lord’s favour.
When we anoint we make this holistic revelation real in the lives of the cosmos. Sacramental anointing overcomes the darkness in our lives as much as the darkness around us.
And this is why it is dangerous. It is dangerous because it is profound, and awesome, and beyond our understanding. And it is dangerous not because it threatens us, but it is dangerous because it threatens and indeed overcomes everything and all that seeks to harm us.
Mighty Story. Dangerous Rituals.
This is what we do here today.
And it is what this parish does and has been doing for quite some time. It is a core identity: your mission, your call to the world, even as you seek new leadership.
Mighty Story. Dangerous Rituals… Thanks be to God!