Doors open at 7:30pm
Open Mic at 8pm
Featured artist at 9pm
Dancing at 10pm
Doors open at 7:30pm
Open Mic at 8pm
Featured artist at 9pm
Dancing at 10pm
Treaty People of Holy Trinity will gather for a potluck supper and time together in the west end of the church (19 Trinity Square) by the kitchen to share food before we join the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto
SISTERS IN SPIRIT VIGIL 2016.
Come join us on Tuesday, October 4th in this annual event as we raise awareness and honor the lives of murdered and missing Indigenous women.
Vigil will take place at Allan Gardens starting at 6:30pm with Aboriginal speakers and performers, painted rock installation, and a moment of silence with candle lighting to honor MMIW.
The city will be alive for twelve hours with art and people and a magical life.
Visit Holy Trinity as part of your experience.
Read more about And the Transformation Reveals
The prophet Amos writes: “We will sell our wheat charging higher prices than for smaller portions, thus tilting the scales in our favour. That way, we can buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals.” Amos 8:4-7. These lines struck me very powerfully and seems to be an almost modern indictment of our age—how to make money in a capitalist society, charging more for less, cheating people when you can get away with it, and being rewarded with increasing one’s personal wealth at the expense of the poor.
The line about “buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals” intrigued me, and I wanted to understand what was meant in the context of Amos’ time. As I discovered it was the practice of buying people as slaves who had fallen into debt, hence buying people who couldn’t even afford their sandals. Right away, the image that came to me is one where people who are homeless often have to sleep with their shoes or boots under their head so they won’t be stolen—this is true when sleeping on a park bench, in a ravine or even in our city funded shelters. And once you lose your shoes you are made even more vulnerable and helpless, having to beg a staff person, or a drop-in worker for a cast off pair. Almost becoming more “slave-like…”
In Jesus’ parable, the manager thought, ‘What will I do, now that my employer is dismissing me?” At this point the manager cut in half each person’s debt, in effect cheating his boss but ensuring he would be taken care of. His boss afterwards actually commended the manager for his shrewdness. Jesus then said to his disciples “For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with one another than are the people of the light.
The people of the light…
“No servant can serve two masters–but will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both money and God.” So one definition of a person of light would be someone who doesn’t serve money; those not shrewd in the ways of the world. How can we be people of light? Luke 16:1-13
Many of you know that I work for a family health team that provides primary health care for residents of the largest homeless shelter in Toronto—Seaton House for men. The guys on the street refer to Seaton House as Satan House. If you have never seen it before, it is a giant poorhouse really, housing as many as 600 homeless men at a time. Walking inside you are struck by its cross between a jail and a scene from a Dickens novel of a giant slum. Open wounds, body lice, people smoking crack just across the street, people hustling drugs right on the Hostel floor, deaths from overdose in the rooms, and some of the shelter staff acting more like prison guards than social workers. Last Sunday night a man was stabbed in his bed on the Hostel floor, and just two weeks before a man was not only hit by a car in front of Seaton House, he was repeatedly run over by the driver—a horrific scene played out in front of 10 Seaton House residents. It was in this setting the other day that I spoke with a man I’ll call Tom. Tom is an aboriginal man, Ojibway, with long black hair and dark brown eyes and a tall skinny frame. He was sitting hunched over in a wheelchair—his leg displaying a large open wound. He had no shirt on, and several large bruises were prominent. He said he didn’t remember how he had gotten those bruises. He is all of 32, but he could pass for 62. Life on the street is a hard one. He looked up at me and smiled from his wheelchair. “How are you?” he asked with a big grin, missing a few teeth. He then told me “I’m going pretty good, well, actually I’m a bit messed up right now, but I’ll be okay.” We gave each other props and he smiled at me with an almost dazzling smile. His words spoken so sincerely by someone who has been knocked so low really hit me with their beauty and kindness. When I think of a person of light, I think of Tom, and his buds on the street and Seaton House who help watch his back, and the support people in his life too.
Shifting gears, I want to tell you about a book I’ve been reading:
The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America: by Thomas King
Thomas King asks the question “What do Indians Want?” And then changes the question to “What Do Whites Want?” The Lakota didn’t want Europeans in the Black Hills, but Whites wanted the gold that was there. The Cherokee didn’t want to move from Georgia to Indian Territory (Oklahoma), but Whites wanted the land. The Cree of Quebec weren’t at all keen on vacating their homes to make way for the Great Whale project, but there’s excellent money in hydroelectric power. … What do Whites want? The answer is quite simple, and it’s been in plain sight all along. Land. Whites want land.” p. 216.
Two accounts help illustrate this:
Ipperwash: In 1942 during WWII, Government of Canada went looking for a place to set up a military training base, and Stoney Point Ojibway reserve in Ontario was chosen. Canada offered the band fifteen dollars an acre for the land, the band refused, and then Canada confiscated the land anyway, promising to return it after the war. The land was not given back, and after countless protests over the years, 24 years later, in 1996 a protest began to escalate and Dudley George was shot and killed by the OPP. In 2007 plans began to give the land back; trying to clean up some of toxic mess left behind by the military. As of May 2012 the land has still not been returned.
Oka: In 1717 France gave a portion of land along the Ottawa River to the Sulpician Missionary Society. The land belonged to the Mohawk people and for the next 151 years they tried to get it back. In 1868, Joseph Onasakenrat, a chief of the Mohawks wrote a letter to the Sulpicians demanding the return of the land; nothing happened. In 1936 the Sulpician sold the property and left the area. The Mohawks protested the sale, and again, nothing happened. Twenty-three years later, in 1959, a nine hole golf course was built on the land, right next to the band’s cemetery. The Mohawk launched a legal protest, but the developers went ahead with the construction of the course. In 1977, the Mohawks filed an official land claim with the Federal Office of Native Claims in an attempt to recapture the land. Nine years later the claim was rejected. In 1989, the mayor of Oka, announced the “exciting” news that the golf course was going to be expanded taking their land including levelling a forest known among the Mohawk people as “the Pines.” In 1990, Mohawks began occupying the Pines, protecting their trees and their graveyard. Their land. The Oka crisis had begun which ultimately cost two lives and over $200 million. Finally in 1997, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development purchased the disputed land for $5.2 million and quietly “gave” it to the Mohawk.
Now let’s bring this a bit closer to us in Toronto–the conflict between Canada and the Misssissaugas of the New Credit.
In 1787, Sir John Johnson, the Chief Superintendent of Indian Affairs met with the Mississaugas at the Bay of Quinte to discuss a number of potential land sales along the north shore of Lake Ontario, including the purchase of land at Toronto as well as land on either side of the Humber River and at Lake Simcoe.
Shortly after this transaction, there was some confusion over the extent of land surrendered. The deed to the land, which was found many years later, was blank and contained no description of the land that had been purchased by the Crown.
Later, Sir Johnson gave an account of the boundaries as roughly “ten miles square at Toronto, and two or four miles . . . on each side of the intended road or Carrying Place” (the Humber River). Six years later, in 1796 a 14×28 mile parcel was surveyed. This was quite a bit different than the 10 x10 parcel of 1787.
So 6 years later, and the Mississaugas were already getting swindled out of land.
The Crown decided to “resolve” the situation by entering into a second Toronto Purchase agreement with the Mississaugas to “confirm” the 1787 surrender. On August 3, 1805, the Mississaugas agreed to the surrender of 14 x 28 miles [392 square miles] of land. The “Toronto Purchase.”
So now the swindle of 1796 is being confirmed and solidified by the decision of 1805. Through the 1805 purchase, the Mississaugas surrendered much of what is now metropolitan Toronto.
Currently, negotiators for the parties are trying to reach an agreement on what constitutes fair cash compensation for the losses to the First Nation as a result of the 1805 Toronto Purchase.
So let’s go back to the shrewd merchant, and our entreaty to serve God and not money. The shrewd merchant would have been rewarded for taking the land at Ipperwash from the Ojibway in 1942, paying very little and promising to return it. Dudley George was killed, but the land is still in the hands of the government—a shrewd merchant indeed. Then in Oka, land that was stolen from the Mohawk and given away by the French in 1717, and then sold in 1936– has been fought over for 299 years. It has finally been returned. Shrewd merchants for almost 300 years. And the land we are standing on was “shrewdly” swindled out of the hands of the Mississauga people
So our history as colonizers has been one of “buying the poor for silver and buying the needy for a pair of sandals,” in effect enslaving our first peoples on this land through murder, lies, deceit, and swindling. Many of our forebears of all of us in this room were perpetrators or at least complicit in this.
So how can we be “people of light” instead? How can we serve God rather than money, and not live for greed and excess, trampling on the poor and becoming like the shrewd merchant?
I have had fantasies of creating a “sister community” with peoples on a reserve up north, sending sports equipment and books and school supplies—throwing money at a poor community. The thoughts of a guilty colonizer… I’m afraid, thinking that I “know” what these communities need. Just like colonizers before me thought that Residential Schools were the answer, converting, re-locating to reserves, scooping up children in the 60s scoop, …the list goes on and on.
As Melanie Kampen said in Unsettling Theology” quoted in Geez Fall 2015: “Decolonization is not a project, or a solution to a problem; it does not warrant a social engineering approach to righting wrongs and pursuing justice and healing—that is still a way of thinking with an imperial mind, one that seeks to control and bring about order out of difference and the conflict it believes differences produce. As Black Elk saw it the healing of the hoop, was a return to the form of a circle, and to walk its path, the good red road, in a sacred manner. What does that mean? To walk as relatives.”
I am intrigued by the invitation we received to meet with the Mississaugas of the New Credit and to get to know each other. What a gift—to be reached out to across the centuries –the people kicked off the land we are standing on right now reaching out to us who live on this land—their land. I am humbled and see glimpses of the people of the light, calling us to be people of the light as well.
As the Psalmist said today: God raises the poor and needy from dust and dung-hill. And aren’t we God’s hands and feet in this world? Psalm 113
When we live in the midst of so much injustice towards our indigenous brothers and sisters, epitomized even by the land we are standing on here, like Tolstoy, I ask us all “What then must we do?” Can we reach out and walk as relatives with our indigenous sisters and brothers? Can we wrestle with our tendency to be more like the shrewd merchant or the “we know best” colonizer?
I would like to leave you with a poem by Rosanna Deerchild, entitled “We Are Just: Indian Woman.”
faded black & white
whispers of a long gone past
like horses and fur trading
we are just: your Disney porn
girl who wears feathers
dances barefoot across
your screens before inviting
you into our tepees
we are just: a decoration
a symbol of his story
that rides into sunset
slips between sheets
of your status quo
we are just: land
conquered cut into
squares labelled and sold off
as economic development
we are just: the body
this country lies on
our bones line every
highway in every direction
oh way ya hey ya waaay
I know another story
she is sky
she is your water
she is heart
of your declaration
that we are not here
A re-creation story
calling all her names
rising drum thrum
for my daughters
my name is
my name is
my name is
is not missing
by Rosanna Deerchild from Geez: Contemplative Cultural Resistance; Fall 2015, No. 39, pg. 79.
Exodus 32:7-14 Psalm 51:1-10 1 Timothy 1:12-17 Luke 15:1-10
Sherman Hesselgrave, Homilist
Nine. Eleven. 2001. Fifteen years ago today—another date that “lives in infamy.” The horrific losses on that day pale when compared to the exponential suffering that has resulted as a direct consequence of the subsequent score-settling. Like all of history, there is nothing we can do to change the past. We can hope that the kind of thinking or believing that led to creating hell on earth for countless people might change, but the lust for power in times of political instability make it a very steep climb, indeed.
Our scripture readings today also speak of losses. But they speak too of recovery after loss, and the lost being found. The Israelites have lost faith in Yahweh who led them out of slavery in Egypt. They have been seduced by the neighbouring Baal-worshipping tribes, and taken to worshipping a golden calf. Moses mediates on their behalf, and they are given the opportunity to make a new beginning.
The writer of the pastoral letter to Timothy speaks of the recovery that can come, even to one who had been an enthusiastic persecutor of Christians, through God’s abundant grace. “Grace,” Frederick Buechner writes, “is something you can never get but only be given. There is no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth…. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it.” [Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC. pp. 33-34]
In this third year of the lectionary cycle, the gospel we have been reading our way through in a semi-continuous fashion is the Gospel of Luke. About half way through we come to chapter 15, which begins (as we heard today):
One time the tax-collectors and other [notorious] sinners were all gathering around to listen to Jesus. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law began grumbling, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Jesus responds with the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin, and a third parable, one we read on the Fourth Sunday in Lent earlier this year: the parable of the Prodigal (or Lost) Son. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law live in a binary world where things, actions, and people are either clean or unclean. People who were ignorant of the purity code and didn’t live by it were regarded as unclean. But people like tax-collectors were in a special category as they were seen as collaborators with the oppressive Roman state. Collaborators have always been hated. Nazi collaborators in Vichy France were executed by the Resistance. In Apartheid South Africa, those who collaborated with the white regime were often “necklaced” with a tire splashed with gasoline and set afire.
The biblical scholar, Kenneth Bailey, in his book, Finding the Lost Cultural Keys to Luke 15, summarizes Jesus’ three-parable reply to his challengers in conceptual language:
Gentlemen, you accuse me of reclining to eat with the ‘am-ha-‘arets and with tax collectors! Your information is correct. This is exactly what I do. And not only do I let them in—I go out into the streets and shower them with affection, urging them to come in and eat with me!
The story of Zacchaeus, the sycamore tree-climbing tax collector whom Jesus invites to dinner a few chapters hence, is another example.
Let’s take a closer look at the two parables before us today: the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin. Something else Kenneth Bailey points out with regard to this passage is that, while there are numerous references in the Hebrew Scriptures to God as Israel’s shepherd, by the time we get to the encounter between Jesus and his antagonists, the occupation of ‘herdsman’ is not kosher, so to speak. Shepherds were always grazing their sheep on other people’s land, which put them in the “unclean” column. So, when Jesus begins his reply to his challengers by saying: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them does not leave the ninety-nine…and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?” Not only is Jesus asking them to imagine they are shepherds, but he’s telling them they are BAD shepherds—for LOSING the sheep they had been given. But because the language of parables is metaphoric, Jesus is not talking about shepherds of sheep, but shepherds of people, just as earlier in his ministry, he told his first disciples that they would become “fishers of people.”
The binary universe of the purity code—clean and unclean—was not the way forward if God’s reign on earth was to be realized, and Jesus was naming names as to who was getting in the way.
When you look around the world today, people are still waging war using the clean/unclean paradigm, only the categories have different labels: believers/infidels, right race/wrong race, powerful/powerless, rich/poor, etc. In the parable, recovery is the result of being found and being brought back into the community of the whole flock.
In the second parable, Jesus likens his tormentors to a careless woman who has lost a precious coin. (Bailey notes that in “Middle Eastern culture a speaker cannot compare a male audience to a woman without giving offence.”) By making a woman the hero of the story, both Jesus and Luke affirm the intrinsic value of both sexes in God’s sovereign realm. The missing drachma represents a day’s wage for a labourer, so it would have been of significant value to the household finances. The woman knows it is somewhere in the house—perhaps it has fallen in a crack between stones in the floor, or it has rolled into a dark corner. Whatever, she doesn’t quit until it has been found.
As in the first parable, it’s not really about a lost coin, but about a lost soul, and caring for everyone who has intrinsic value as a child of God. If the angels in heaven rejoice whenever a lost soul is found, why is it impossible for the Pharisees to join in? It seems to me that they are not able to see beyond the paradigm they have constructed. Clean or unclean—that is their question, and there they are trapped.
When you stop to reflect on these parables, the ones who are lost are the ones who continually take issue with Jesus’ modelling of God’s generous grace.
Calls for justice for all God’s children continues to generate conflict today. There are people unwilling to accept the witness of Black Lives Matter. Others aren’t convinced there’s much that can be done about missing and murdered women. Others would rather argue about which bathroom a trans person should use.
Jesus asks his harassers to imagine themselves in another’s situation. It may be only a beginning, but it could be the first step leading to recovery and reconciliation after the deep losses so many have felt.
In the Toronto Star yesterday, Tony Burman published the five lessons he has learned from the ashes of September 11, 2001. Two of them could have come from the lips of Jesus:
• Revenge as policy never works
• Terrorism doesn’t come from nowhere
If we want the future to look different from the past, then we continually have to stomp down the barriers that people keep erecting or reinforcing that divide us from one another. It is God’s will that everyone has a place at the table; all are welcome under God’s roof. And we are either part of the solution or part of the problem. We each have a choice.
Join the Labyrinth Community Network in a public walk on Tuesday, September 20 at noon. Free
Several times a year the network hosts public walks accompanied with music. Although you are invited to walk the labyrinth anytime it can be a particularly moving experience to walk it with others in the presence of inspiring music. Live Music by Michael Franklin
Wheelchair accessible with braille labyrinth on site
Next up Wednesday, December 21 at noon for Winter Solstice
Have a look at upcoming worship services and some news of the community.
Echo Women’s Choir celebrates it’s 25 year, and began a new season on September 6.
There will be a welcome tea for new members on September 13.
If you would like to join Echo please register on our website.
Spots are available for our next season starting in January: www.echowomenschoir.ca
Other things to add to your calendar
Echo Open Rehearsal – October 4, 7pm (please arrive fragrance free)
Echo Winter Concert – December 11, 7:30pm
To get an idea of why you would join a choir watch this CBC video.
We meet monthly to remember all 833 people whose names are recorded here and the countless others who have been forgotten by some.
The June memorial marked the adding the 831 name to the Homeless Memorial which is not a milestone to be proud of, but one that was marked none-the-less. The Toronto Star wrote an article on this event that quietly took place outside the church on the second Tuesday of July.
We spoke out against police violence that led to “John Doe’s” death, observed our moment of silence for him and all those who have died. We heard Bonnie’s poem and shared announcements of actions we could take to change the system so that no more deaths will occur.
Make your voice heard on a new national housing strategy by visiting the Federal Government input page Let’s Talk Housing.
My old band Merbecke is getting together to play through our old recording, a few other favourites and one new tune. We sounded pretty good when we got together privately last winter, so I have high hopes for a fun and rocking show. I know we’re up against TURF, but sometimes that’s the way it goes with hard to schedule events like a Merbecke reunion. The name was originally Merbecke Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, but since nobody knew who the heck Merbecke was anyway, we decided to shorten it.
There will still be an open mic portion at 8pm, so if you have a poem, song, or something else you want to try out with an audience, let me know so I can schedule you in.
I’m turning 50 on September 15. While there likely won’t be much in the way of official birthday activities here (and please don’t bring presents), this will likely be the closest thing to a party that I arrange.
Panter’s Pub is a semi-private party upstairs in the old chapel at Holy Trinity, 19 Trinity Square, Toronto where local singer-songwriters, poets and radicals gather to have a good time and maybe plot the revolution. It’s for members and friends. If you’re seeing this, you’re almost certainly a member or friend. 🙂 Feel free to bring your own friends too.
Open Mic at 8pm,
Merbecke (Judy Steers, Caroline Owen, Keith Nunn, Neil MacNaughton) at 9,
Dancing at 10.
Entrance by donation,
BYOB (We also have wine, beer and seasonal cocktails if you just want to show up).
RSVP appreciated, but not necessary.
There are many stairs, I’m sorry. I will have some more ground floor events soon.