When is Enough Enough? Ian Sowton’s August 9th Homily

Readings: 1 Kings 19:1-5;  Psalm 34:1-8;  Ephesians 4:25-5:2;  John 6:35, 41-51

 

WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH?  Homily: Ian Sowton   

ELIJAH: THE SAGA OF ELIJAH PITS ELIJAH, PROPHET OF YAHWEH AGAINST QUEEN JEZEBEL, SPONSOR OF THE GOD BAAL AND HIS PROPHET-PRIESTS.   THERE IS A SAVAGE WAR GOING ON.  KAREN ARMSTRONG ARGUES IN HER RECENT BOOK FIELDS OF BLOOD THAT RELIGION HAS A BAD RAP AS A PERENNIAL CAUSE OF WARS.   WARS ARE MOSTLY FOUGHT, SHE SAYS, OVER POLITICAL POWER, OVER ESTABLISHING THE AUTHORITY OF A SECULAR REGIME WHICH, BECAUSE RELIGION IS SO IMPORTANT TO SO MANY PEOPLE, IS ALL TOO OFTEN VERY WILLING TO INVOKE AND CO-OPT RELIGIOUS PRESTIGE AND PRACTICES IF AND WHEN CONVENIENT.    WHATEVER YOU THINK OF AMSTRONG’S THESIS—WHICH OF COURSE I’M DRASTICALLY ABRIDGING—IN THIS PART OF THE ELIJAH SAGA IT’S CLEARLY APPARENT THAT THERE IS A MERCILESS POWER STRUGGLE GOING ON BETWEEN THE ELIJAH/YAHWEH AND JEZEBEL/BAAL FACTIONS.   WHOSE GOD IS MORE POWERFUL?  BOTH GODS ARE LOCAL, TERRITORIAL DEITIES.   BOTH JEZEBEL AND ELIJAH HAVE BEEN TRYING RUTHLESSLY TO EXTIRPATE THE OTHER’S FACTION OF PROPHETS.   JUST BEFORE THE EPISODE IN THE ELIJAH SAGA THAT WE’RE CONCERNED WITH TODAY YAHWEH HAS WON THE LATEST ROUND OF THE CONTEST WITH BAAL IN A DAZZLING DISPLAY OF POWER IN ANSWER TO ELIJAH’S PRAYER.  AND ELIJAH HAS JUST TOLD THE ASSEMBLED MOB OF ISRAELITE WITNESSES TO TAKE THE UNFORTUNATE LOSERS—THOSE “400 PROPHETS OF BAAL WHO EAT AT JEZEBEL’S TABLE”— DOWN FROM MT CARMEL TO THE BROOK KISHON WHERE HE, ELIJAH, BUTCHERS THEM HIMSELF…..

TURNING TO OUR THEME WORD ENOUGH, WE CAN NOTE THAT IT HAS TWO ASPECTS: ONE NEGATIVE, WHICH IS DESPAIR, AS IN ELIJAH’S “ENOUGH! I’VE HAD IT!  I GIVE UP”; (OR AS IN GREED, FOR INSTANCE, WHICH IS DESPAIR AT NEVER HAVING ENOUGH).    BUT “ENOUGH” ALSO HAS A POSITIVE ASPECT, IN FACT A DOUBLY POSITIVE ASPECT: THANKSGIVING FOR ENOUGH IN THE WAY OF PROVISIONS AND GRATITUDE FOR ENOUGH PROVISION, OR EVEN FOR ENOUGH PLUS A SURPLUS.   IN THE EPISODE OF THE ELIJAH SAGA THAT THE LECTIONARY INVITES US TO CONSIDER TODAY WE ENCOUNTER ENOUGH IN A DESPAIRING MODE: ELIJAH’S “ENOUGH! I’VE HAD IT!”    IN THE FACE OF JEZEBEL’S VENGEFULNESS HE HAS PLUNGED FROM THE HIGH OF MT CARMEL TO THE DEPTHS OF TERRIFIED DESPAIR AND FLED FOR HIS LIFE.   IT’S TRUE THAT ELIJAH IS PROVIDED FOR, INDEED PROVISIONED WITH ENOUGH SUSTENANCE FOR A NON-STOP 40 DAY HIKE.   BUT THANKS AND GRATITUDE ARE NOT MUCH IN EVIDENCE AT THE MOMENT.

PSALM   PSALM 34 IS A HYMN OF THANKSGIVING AND GRATITUDE, FEATURES THAT WE’VE ALREADY ASSOCIATED WITH ENOUGH PROVISION, THOUGH IN THIS CASE THERE IS ONLY A BRIEF, METAPHORICAL ALLUSION TO PROVISIONS AS SUCH—“OH TASTE AND SEE THAT YAHWEH IS GOOD.”    NONETHELESS AS A VERITABLE PAEAN OF THANKFUL GRATITUDE PSALM 34 VERY STRONGLY SUGGESTS THAT IT’S FAIR TO INFER AN ENOUGH, INDEED AN ENOUGH + A SURPLUS IN THE OFFING.   FOR ONE THING, IF THE SUPERSCRIPTION TO THIS PSALM IS TO BE TAKEN SERI0USLY, DAVID IS PRESUMABLY BRIMMING OVER WITH GRATEFUL THANKS AT HAVING JUST ESCAPED THE CLUTCHES OF ABIMELECH BY FEIGNING IMBECILITY.

EPHESIANS   THE NEW TESTAMENT LESSON DOES NOT SEEM TO LEND ITSELF TO THE THEME WE’RE CURRENTLY FOLLOWING.    WHAT WE HEARD FROM PAUL TODAY IS MOSTLY A SERIES OF INJUNCTIONS FOR THE CIVILIZED CONDUCT OF LIFE IN A RELIGIOUSLY ORIENTED COMMUNITY (WHAT IS ELSEWHERE CALLED THE RUDIMENTS OF CHRISTIANITY).   A LOT OF HIS INJUNCTIONS, IN THIS PASSAGE ANYWAY, WOULD BE EQUALLY RELEVANT TO THE RULES OF CONDUCT IN ANY RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY.    IN THE INTEREST OF FULL DISCLOSURE I WILL MERELY NOTE BY THE WAY THAT I WOULD PASS THE TEST OF THESE INJUNCTIONS WITH A GRADE OF PERHAPS C+–MY SCORE BEING SEVERELY COMPROMISED BY FLUNKING THE INJUNCTION IN VERSE 35 ABOUT FORGIVING.   THERE ARE MAJOR POLITICAL LEADERS STILL EXTANT AMONG US WHOSE PERFOR- MANCES IN WORD AND DEED I CERTAINLY REMEMBER AND AM NOT YET ABLE TO FORGIVE—EVEN THOUGH THEY PROFESS CHRISTIANITY AND MUST THEREFORE BE ACCEPTED AS ENROLLED IN THE HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH.   MEA CULPA!

GOSPEL   TURNING TO THE GOSPEL FOR TODAY, I MUST CONFESS—AGAIN IN THE INTEREST OF FULL DISCLOSURE—THAT I HAVE MY DIFFICULTIES WITH THIS GOSPEL, TWO GENERAL ONES AND A PARTICULAR ONE.   THIS IS NOT THE PLACE TO INFLICT MY GENERAL DIFFICULTIES UPON YOU.   MY PARTICULAR DIFFICULTY IS THAT SO MUCH COMMENTARY ON THIS GOSPEL TREATS WHAT JESUS IS SAYING AS HISTORICALLY VERBATIM.    WHAT IS GOING ON IS A SERIES OF THEOLOGICAL MEDITATIONS ON THE PERSON AND MINISTRY OF JESUS THAT THE AUTHOR COUCHES IN THE FORM OF DISCOURSES BY JESUS.   THERE’S NOTHING ILLEGITIMATE ABOUT THIS, NOTHING ABOUT CLAIMING TO HAVE FLY-ON-WALL PRIVILEGES OF OVERHEARING; IT IS A STANDARD PROCEDURE OF THE TIME, EVEN IN TEXTS PURPORTING TO BE HISTORICAL, TO PUT WORDS INTO THE MOUTHS OF THEIR SUBJECTS THAT THE AUTHORS COULD NOT HAVE BEEN THERE TO HEAR AT THE TIME.   BUT IT IS NECESSARY, FOR ME ANYWAY, TO KEEP THIS CONTEXTUAL SITUATION IN MIND AND TO REFLECT ON THE TEXT IN AN UP-FRONT MANNER FROM WITHIN THAT CONTEXT.

ALL THAT BEING SAID….OUR GOSPEL PASSAGE FOR TODAY IS ANOTHER PART OF ONE OF THE LONG DISCOURSES THAT ‘JOHN’ PUTS INTO THE MOUTH OF JESUS—THIS ONE BEING ABOUT JESUS IDENTIFYING HIMSELF AS THE BREAD FROM HEAVEN, THAT HEAVENLY MANNA WHICH CONFERS ETERNAL LIFE.    YAHWEH PROVISIONED THE IRAELITES IN THE WILDERNESS WITH ENOUGH MANNA TO LAST FOR THE DAY AND TOLD THEM TO COLLECT ENOUGH ON THE SIXTH DAY TO PROVIDE ENOUGH FOR THE SABBATH—THE DAY OF NO COLLECTION.    WHEREAS JOHN HAS JESUS BOLDLY INSERTING HIMSELF INTO THE TRADITION OF THE TORAH BEING THE WORD OF PERPETUAL NOURISHMENT AND CLAIMING THAT HE HIMSELF IS THAT HEAVENLY FOOD, MANNA OF THE EVERLASTING ENOUGH.    SO HERE WE HAVE THE IDENTIFICATION OF HIS BODY WITH BREAD.    EVERY SABBATH WE REMEMBER AND CELEBRATE THIS CRUCIAL PROVISION: THE BODY BROKEN AND DISTRIBUTED WITH ENOUGH FOR EVERYBODY.    EVERY SABBATH SERVICE WE REACH THE LITURGY OF THE BREAD AND CUP DURING WHICH WE COME TO THE EUCHARIST ITSELF, THE GREAT THANKSGIVING IN BOLD FACE AND LARGER LETTERS.    THE HEART AND CLIMAX OF HOLY COMMUNION IS A GREAT BIG THANK YOU!!, A COMMUNAL EXCLAMATION OF GRATITUDE.  THIS ACTION GOES BACK TO THE LAST SUPPER, WHEN JESUS IN PAUL’S ACCOUNT BLESSES THE BREAD; AND ALSO TO THE BLESSING, SAYING OF GRACE, BEFORE THE ENOUGH OF THAT MEAL IN EMMAUS.   THE JEWISH BLESSING BEGINS WITH THANKSGIVING AND GRATITUDE FOR THE RICH PROVISIONS OF CREATION—FOR ALL ITS ENOUGHS.   AS FAR AS I CAN DISCERN IT, THE WORKING OF GRACE IN OUR EUCHARIST IS “DO THIS” WHENEVER YOU WANT BOTH TO REMEMBER ME AND ALSO RE/MEMBER ME—(PROACTIVELY RENEW OUR MEMBERSHIP IN CHRIST); “DO THIS” WHENEVER YOU WANT BOTH TO RECALL ME (REMIND YOURSELVES ABOUT ME) AND ALSO RE/CALL  (CONFIRM THE PRESENCE) OF THE CHRIST WHO IS IN EACH OF US, BETWEEN ANY TWO OF US, AND AMONG US ALL.    THIS EUCHARISTIC ACTION OF GRATEFUL THANKSGIVING YIELDS ENOUGH BREAD FOR THE IMMEDIATE JOURNEY AND ALSO A SURPLUSTHIS SURPLUS IS HOPE.    GREED (eg) AND ELIJAH’S SEVERE PANIC ATTACK, ARE IN THE MODE OF DESPAIR, WHILE GRATITUDE AND THANKS ARE IN ENOUGH’S SURPLUS MODE OF HOPE.   THE CHRIST WHO IS IN, AND BETWEEN, AND AMONG US IS NOT ONLY IMMEDIATE PROVISION BUT ALSO ALWAYS AND ALREADY OUT AHEAD OF US.    EVERY EUCHARIST IS ALSO ENOUGH’S FUTURE-ORIENTED OCCASION, A HOPEFUL ERNEST OF THE PEACEABLE KINGDOM, WITH THE CHRIST OUT AHEAD OF US BEING THE LIVING SIGN OF OUR HOPE, THAT SURPLUS ENOUGH WHO SUSTAINS US ON OUR LONG TERM, OFTEN DIFFICULT JOURNEY TOWARD THE COMING PEACEABLE KINGDOM.

(Homilist’s Notes: [i] After the service a member of the congregation pointed out to me that in Ephesians 4:27 Paul prohibits thievery, saying that one must work hard and honestly with one’s own hands so that there may be “something to share with the needy”.  She apologized for making such a small point, but her point was not small but entirely appropriate and to the point: work so that there’s not only enough but enough plus a surplus to share.  [ii] Thanks also to Bill Whitla, who during last week’s homiletic discussion, noted Jesus’ bold insertion of himself into that Torah tradition.  Ian)

City of Toronto moving toward Poverty Reduction Strategy

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Commitment 2 Community is a loosely woven together coalition focused on improving life for all who live in Toronto. In July City Council approved the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy and now it is being prepared for final approval in November. Now is the time for individuals to make their voices heard:

  • Contact your Councillor by telephone, e-mail or in person. Contact Sean Meagher at sean@publicinterest.caif you are interested in attending a councillor meeting. Tell your councillor: “Please make the PRS a priority and vote to support the Final PRS in November” and add an issue that is of concern to you and your community (e.g. Affordable housing, food security, transit, city services, jobs) If you don’t know who your councilor is, look here 
  • Deputation Training: Thursday, September 3rd, 2015. Location and registration details to be announced soon. This training prepares you to speak in person at upcoming meetings of council and its various standing committees.

The best way to stay up-to-date and active on this issue is to sign up for updates

Here is a short background document for sharing About_the_Poverty_Reduction_Strategy

Anglican Nuns

SSJD-community-photo-Nov2014cYes, we have two Anglican orders of religious women in Canada; the Community of the Sisters of the Church and the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine. This latter order(pictured above) recently sent us their newsletter and a calendar of upcoming events.

Food for the SOUL 2015 to 2016 offers one day reflective events and longer weekend events like Listen to Your life a weekend event led by our own Sherman Hesselgrave. Some of the events are more action oriented like a writers workshop with Kathleen Norris.

You can also choose to simply retreat for the day or days on your own or seek the guidance of a sister. They are happy to host you in the guesthouse and you can discover more here. They also welcome people to join them in their regular worship.

The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine is a contemporary expression of the religious life for women within the Anglican Church of Canada. Nurtured by our founding vision of prayer, community and ministry, we are open and responsive to the needs of the church and the contemporary world, continually seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our life and ministry.

This community is one of several spiritual resources that we have close to home and will be looking at ways to share and highlight these communities in the coming months.

Lammas Day – Aug 1

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Lammas Day is a traditional festival giving thanks for the beginning of harvest. Historically there was a custom of bringing a freshly baked loaf of bread to church and in some traditions the loaf was broken and left in the four corners of the barn to protect the grain.

St. Stephen in the Fields will celebrate Lammas Day this Saturday at 7 PM behind the Scadding Court Community Centre at Dundas and Bathurst.

Together,we bless the produce of the community garden, and bread freshly baked in the park’s wood-fired oven. We remember that even in the city we depend on the goodness of the natural world, and we celebrate the nurture, growth and richness of urban agriculture and food production. The service will be followed by a potluck; please bring food to share if you can.

Read more in this article about a previous St Stephen’s in the Fields celebration.

 

August 6: Join us in peace…

 

Ground Zero to Global Zero: Hope after 70 Years.

Commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Free event! All welcome!)

4:30 to 6:30 Community Tables

6:30 Commemoration

8:30 Closing Ceremony

Speaker: Paul Dewar MP, Co-president of PNND (Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament)

Featuring:  Flautist, Ron Korb, The Raging Grannies, Yakudo Traditional Japanese Drummers.

Special  guests: The Pax Christi Chorale

More information at www.hiroshimadaycoalition.ca

Print poster

Toronto Homeless Memorial – Tuesday, August 11 noon

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Next week and every second Tuesday year round (September 8,  October 13, November 10, December 8, 2015) people gather at noon outside the south doors of The Church of the Holy Trinity beside the Eaton Centre to remember all who have died on the streets of Toronto. The memorial is followed by a light lunch for all.

The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee and The Church of the Holy Trinity put together a Homeless Memorial outside the church in 2000. The photo above is of Bonnie Briggs, founder of the current memorial.  Names have been collected since 1985 and on February 12th, 2013 the 700th name was added. Current list is here:

Homeless-Memorial-OFFICIAL-LIST.July 2015

The Mission Statement of the Toronto Homeless Memorial is: “We remember all those homeless people who have lived in the streets of Toronto, and died as a direct result of homelessness.”

Several stories have been written about the memorial and those who are remembered here:

  • Carol Goar remembers Stewart Poirier who was the 700th name added in 2013.
  • John Bonar of Rabble.ca has a collection of audio,  video,  and print stories of the memorial. This is a selection of links, but more exist, if you visit their website; January 2015, October 2014 – videos part 1 and part 2, September 2014 – six names added, September 2010 – five names added,

 

 

 

 

 

You can access the church through the mall, from Dundas or Bay streets.

Holy Trinity Member Bill Aide featured August 17 at Music Mondays

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Music Mondays hosts lovely concerts every Monday at 12:15 in our
lovely, historic, acoustic space. The series features young, up & coming performers with some longtime favourites who offer up new or experimental repertoire. Upcoming concerts continuing until August 31  are listed in our calendar to your right and the full schedule can be found here.

william aide

August 17th’s artist  Bill Aide is  performing The Romantic Character Piece – A long time Music Mondays favourite explores this  expressive genre. Works include the Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52 by Chopin and  Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) Op. 15 by Schumann.

 

Every concert is recorded and you can listen to past concerts by visiting the Music Mondays website.

 

 

Labyrinth Walk – June 21, Summer Solstice

braille labyrinth
Sunday, June 21, 2015 – Noon – 1pm

Join the Labyrinth Community Network in a group labyrinth walk to mark the Summer Solstice 2015.

Toronto Public Labyrinth in Trinity Square Park (South of the church of the Holy Trinity and west of the Eaton Centre).

The path to the centre and out again is ½ mile in length, and within a circle 73’ in diameter.

Everyone welcome.  Live Music.  Wheelchair accessible. Braille labyrinth on site.  Free.  More information

Unsettling the Settler – Service & Parish Picnic June 21 11:00 AM – the picnic is on

the picnic is on!

picnic-basket
Service & Picnic on Sunday, June 21, 2015 @ 11:00 AM in Area 26 in High Park (directions below)

NO SERVICE AT THE CHURCH (open for drop in breakfast 8 to 9 AM)

Join us at High Park and invite others! We will bring our hearing assist devices to connect to the portable PA.

Today the worship service is led by Holy Trinity’s band Fallen Angles in a pop vein. We strive for an integrated experience that affects everyone who comes. This month our theme is “Unsettling the Settler” which will continue to explore our relationship with the First Peoples of this land in light of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Anglican Church #22Days campaign. June 21 is National Aboriginal Day.

Picnic: The parishes of San Esteban and St. Paul’s will be joining us. Between the three communities the barbeques & propane, beverages, hamburgers & veggie burgers will be provided.

Please bring a picnic side dish to share with a serving utensil. Plates, napkins, & cutlery will be provided. You may want to bring a folding chair or blanket to sit on.

Picnic Games will be played if we have enough (8 to 12 people would be nice) to play: three legged race, sack race, sponge toss, etc. Please bring the young and young-at-heart ready to participate in games!
Come ready for a good time and please dress for the weather. There is a covered shelter and we hope to go on regardless of weather.

Ways of getting to the park:
Toronto Transit
1) Take the 506 Carlton streetcar to the end of the line (High Park Loop) walk back out to Parkside Drive and go south or right to High  Park Blvd where you turn right to enter the park. Walk past the washrooms to Area 26 picnic shelter on your left.

2) Take the Bloor Subway to the Keele Station (Keele becomes  Parkside at Bloor) –it’s a bit of a walk, (the 80 Queensway bus does not run on Sunday) Simply walk straight down Parkside Drive and turn right to enter the park. Walk past the washrooms to Area 26 picnic shelter on your left.

Drive – there is parking if you follow High Park Blvd into the park where it becomes Deer Pen Road. Drive past Area 26 picnic shelter and you will find parking on your left.

Wheel-Trans can drive right up to the shelter to drop off

If you are lost call Sherman 416-527-4860

loving justice in the heart of the city