Bill Whitla’s Homily at Holy Trinity for Lent 3, March 23, 2014
Grumbling people quarrelling with Moses
Demanding water to drink in the wilderness
Moses striking the rock so water will come out of it.
Using the same rod with which he smote the Nile. to poison it, now is used for fresh water to save the people of Israel.
People are testing Moses, but fundamentally testing God by asking Is the Lord among us or not?
It’s a good question about whether this testing and quarrelling —or the striking of the rock, becomes the reason that Moses cannot enter into the Promised Land (see Deut. 32: 48–52; see also Deut 20).
Ash Wednesday Services
There will be two Ash Wednesday liturgies on March 5th: 12:15 PM and 7:00 PM
The evening service is preceded by a light supper of Lentil Soup and Salad beginning at 6:00 PM (donation invited)
Wednesday Community Nights in Lent
Beginning the following week, March 12th, and continuing until the 9th of April, there will be a simple supper, beginning at 6:00 PM, followed by a video and discussion using the Living the Questions series.The evening will conclude between 8:00 and 8:30. There will be signup sheets in church for each week or you can email Sherman: shesselgrave at holytrinitytoronto.org
There will be a parallel program for children, if needed. Please email Beth Baskin: bbaskin at holytrinitytoronto.org if you will be bringing children. Suppers will be prepared by members of the community and a donation will be invited. If you would like to help with the suppers contact Sherman.
Join us at noon outside the south doors of Church of the Holy Trinity, just west of the Eaton Centre.
We will stand in the cold and light candles to remember those who have died without a warm place to call home.
The cross created after the procession. To learn more about the history of Candlemas visit http://projectbritain.com/year/candlemas.html
Readings: Isaiah 9:1-4 Psalm 27:1, 5-13 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 Matthew 4:12-23
by Sherman Hesselgrave
The week between January 18th, the Feast of the Confession of St Peter on the Church calendar, and the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul on January 25th has come to be known in ecumenical circles as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I imagine to many the words ‘Christian Unity’ must seem oxymoronic, for Church history is littered with the bodies and detritus of countless battles. St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians reminds us that Christian disunity has been around pretty much from the beginning.
Disunity comes in a variety of flavours. I have noticed a flurry of online discussion recently about bullying in church, bullying of all stripes—bullying of parishioners by pastors, bullying of lay people by other members of a congregation, and even bullying of pastors by congregations. One congregation, First Assembly of God in Madison, Indiana, a town with a population of 13,000, had a decades-long reputation in the town and denomination for being a clergy “killer.” Four successive pastors had been called and then painfully driven out until the latest pastor helped them to name and own their dysfunction. They made the news for holding a service of reconciliation that involved calling their former pastors back to ask their forgiveness for the way they had been treated. The liturgical action at this service was the current pastor washing the feet of the former ministers on behalf of the congregation.
According to St Paul, one of the conflicts in the new community of Christians in the port city of Corinth appears to be related to people forming cliques around the missionaries who baptized them: Apollos, Cephas, or Paul. I suspect we all have seen the power of personality cults, and the Church is certainly not immune to their seductiveness. But in falling for the charisma of the various leaders, the new converts missed the one thing they all had in common: their baptism into the community of Christ. This passage is emblematic of so many of the things that have caused division in Christian communities when the original vision of what makes up the core of the Gospel is lost. I believe Jonathan Swift, in his Gulliver’s Travels, was satirizing the Church when he described the wars between the Big-Enders and the Little-Enders, those who ate their soft-boiled eggs by cracking them at opposite ends. There are many distractions that make it difficult at times to keep our eyes on the prize, so to speak.
When Jesus invited Peter, Andrew, James and John to leave their nets and follow him, one has to wonder what they thought “fishing for people” would look like. What kind of community were they being called to? From the record, it seems that, even after following Jesus around for quite some time, they weren’t sure. Today’s gospel and today’s Hebrew scripture both quote this passage from the prophet Isaiah: “…the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,…” In the original context, the darkness that has fallen over the people is the darkness of death that accompanied the continuous warring in that critical geopolitical region. Isaiah was promising that a Prince of Peace would be coming to bring a new dawn. In the gospel context, Jesus was the light who had come to bring a new day, and the way he was going to do it was by inviting people to help him to spread the news that God was taking a new approach to creating peace and justice on earth. He spelled out the details as he travelled from town to town. In the Sermon on the Mount he claimed that God blessed peacemakers, the pure in heart, the merciful, and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. He told his followers that they were the fertilizer of the earth. He taught them how to pray, and how to live one day at a time. And he taught them about the danger of storing up treasure on earth. The kind of community that Jesus’ followers were called to was a community of character that stood in stark contrast to the values of the surrounding empire.
Flash forward to Germany in the mid 1930s. A different empire, the Third Reich, was coming into being, and the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer had been called to lead an illegal, clandestine Confessing Church seminary in the then North German town of Finkenwalde. Sharing a common life in emergency-built housing with twenty-five seminarians, he wrote a book, Life Together [New York: Harper & Row, 1954, p. 26], describing his insights into living as an intentional Christian community. Early in the book he observes that many a time “a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream.” The disillusionment that shatters such dreams is an act of grace that helps a group of Christians to discern the true community God is trying to create. Look at Jesus’ disciples and how disillusioned they were when Jesus turned out not to be a political messiah. Until they were purged of that fantasy, they could not become part of the apostolic movement they were commissioned for.
Over the centuries, Christian communities have struggled with the tension between unity and uniformity. There are some who believe that unity requires uniformity, but that is not what either Jesus or the apostle Paul taught. Paul speaks of the diversity of the body of Christ, the Church, and the many gifts with which God’s Spirit has blessed God’s people—but there is one Spirit behind those gifts, so all spiritual gifts are complementary. And, I believe that when Jesus prays that we may all be one, as he and his Abba are one, he is speaking of the oneness that comes from being intimately connected to the source of all life, truth, and beauty.
Diversity, too, can be a source of tension. We have seen how new ideas or scientific revelations have challenged Christian communities over the millennia. And just when you think consensus is about to solidify after decades or centuries of debate, someone comes along and tries to bring back the Middle Ages. As a Roman Catholic nun once remarked to me, “The Church changes very slowly—one funeral at a time.”
To be true to our calling as a community in Christ, there will be times when we will struggle to discern which fork in the road to take, or how to make the most of our resources, or the best way to retool for carrying on our mission in a new context. We may be called to make bold leaps of faith or to overcome a fear of failing. These are all situations that faithful Christians have faced in the centuries leading to this moment in time, so we are not alone as we continue to make sense of our life together—we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses and God’s Spirit is the wind that fills our sails.
Month in and month out we gather on the second Tuesday at noon. We remember those who have died on the streets without a home.
We sing songs, read poems, share news and stand in silence to honour those that others have forgotten. Join us for lunch following the memorial.
Join us for some quiet moments of music and reflection on what is designed to be a shopping frenzy.
Resist the extending shopping hours and great deals. Bring your justice-seeking heart, mind, and soul to a quiet OASIS next to the Eaton Center.
We will sing, talk, pray and use candles to welcome light into a world that seeks justice beyond the greed of consumerism.
The service is followed by a light meal and conversation. Next OASIS is Friday, January 31, 2014
The following worship services take place on Sunday at 10:30 am in the church.
November 24 Reign of Christ Sunday
December 1 Advent I – Forum to create wreaths
December 8 Advent II – Forum Biblical interpretation challenges
- December 15 Advent III – Forum – responses to challenges
- December 22 Advent IV children in worship – Forum
Christmas Eve and Day services:
Tuesday, December 24 7:30 pm Caroling and Tree Trimming with 8:30 pm Worship service with communion – children participate in worship
Wednesday, December 25 10:30 am Worship service with communion
Forums follow the service and include a light lunch. They are a 45 minute discussion on a given topic or in some cases like Advent wreath making an active response to a particular subject.
Regular Sunday worship with communion at 10:30 am on Sunday, December 29 – no children’s program
San Esteban Congregation worships in Spanish every Sunday at 2pm
Looking for a wonderful way to get away without the expense and hassle of travel? Visit Music Mondays, lunchtime concert series and be transported to far away places by the music of talented artists. Every Monday until September 30th at 12:15 pm. http://www.musicmondays.ca/