REFLECTION: TEARS AND CONFLICT ON THE STREET - Fr. Dean Mercer
With the tears and conflict of the street on our hearts, I'm drawn to a question from our parents: what do we tell our children. How does our Christian faith guide and sustain us in such a time?
Three things are on my mind.
First, our faith is fundamental for understanding the source and dignity of every life as revealed by God in Jesus Christ. When we lose sight of this, and when we lose sight of Jesus Christ through whom it has been revealed by God, we will also lose sight of the central riddle Jesus teaches us in order to protect the dignity of all.
“We save our lives by giving them away to God and for each other.”
Our Lord “came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt. 20.28)
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Mt. 5.44.
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jn. 15.13
Jesus Christ turns our conflicts on their heads. “How can I punch that guy in the nose when I am obliged by Christ to give my life for him?”
Secondly, God is just. He is patient. He will not be mocked.
This, too, we must never lose sight of, particularly when injustice swirls. And under the cover of the status quo or chaos, we must never think we can pull a fast one on God. We must be prepared for the long walk to which we are called by the One who “desires that all come to the truth and be saved” (1 Tim. 2.4). And like Peter, we must sheath the sword if we plan on following Jesus Christ.
Thirdly, God’s ambition is for nothing less than the peace of the world. Not the confusion and alienation of Babel, but the harmony and joy of the new Jerusalem.
But harmony is both glorious and hard.
The harmony God seeks is what we see in marriage, where a man and a woman unite in great joy only to discover how different they are from each other. From the beginning, God brings together these two similar but different creatures. Why would he do that? Yet through the patience, determination, conflict and fruitfulness of marriage, the joy of the wedding day grows into a deep, profound and fruitful union. Teaching us that what we experience in part is true absolutely in the faithfulness of Christ to his bride, the church.
I have one particular challenge in mind. Harmony is especially hard in our time because competing and contradictory standards of justice are often presented under the same banner, something I was helped to understand in a book, entitled “Whose Justice? Which Rationality?”, by Alasdair MacIntyre. He points out the obvious. Justice in a socialist state is different than in a tribal state than in a secular state than in an anarchic state than in a religious state. Learning to differentiate and knowing what is consistent with the truth revealed by God in Christ is always hard.
And, a final thought, social harmony is always in need of leaders who embody and can express a people’s deepest hopes, consistent with the truth.
Over the course of this hard conflict in American and North American life, two come to mind.
The first was Abraham Lincoln and his 2nd inaugural address when the end of the Civil War was in sight. One of its notable characteristics is the glimpse he had of God’s purposes being achieved in and through this world’s conflicts. God is patient. God will not be mocked. Leading to its powerful conclusion:
"With malice toward none with charity for all with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan ~ to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
The second, of course, is Martin Luther King, Jr., and his “I have a dream” speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August, 1963.
The dates are so important to remember. The speech came 100 years after the civil war when, by sword and spear, the formal principle was established regarding the equality of all persons of every race before the law. But the hard lesson of King's speech was that force alone could not accomplish this without the repentance of heart and spirit. And in that great speech, quoting directly from the prophet Isaiah, King lifted and united a people around what was held in common: the riches of freedom and the security of justice, a dream that unites and challenges us all:
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
". . . I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."
". . . With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And in conclusion, I think of a local pioneer.
This past Monday, we heard the moving tributes to Dr. Tom Massiah, a longstanding and dedicated member of St. Paul’s, and a pioneer in Canada for the sake of Canadians of West Indian descent. His start was in the hard conditions of both the economic depression in Canada and the glass ceiling for black Canadians. He was hurt deeply by the slings and arrows that came his way, but he never pulled out of the long struggle for good education or back from every effort to build understanding and respect in the community. His is a precious legacy: in Canada, in Toronto, at St. Paul’s.
In summary - what do we tell our children?
First, human dignity is God’s gift to every person.
Second, God is just, his justice is patient, and he will not be mocked.
Third, God’s ambition is the harmony of the world. Harmony is hard. Its fruit is glorious.
The parish of St. Paul's is called to prayer tomorrow morning at 10.30 a.m.. A short video and handout will be available tomorrow morning for those who wish to follow along: www.stpl.ca/services.html.
A service is also conducted in Tamil. Please contact Fr. Milton Solomon directly: (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A Bible study and prayer meeting in Chinese is organized by Pastor Andrew and Kevin Zhang, Saturday evenings at 8.00 pm. To participate, contact Pastor Andrew: email@example.com
Sunday School every Sunday morning at 10 am
Information about how to connect is available on the Church Calendar: www.stpl.ca/events.html
Evening Prayer on Sundays via Zoom
Evening Prayer is said every Sunday at 6 pm. Information about how to connect is available on the Church Calendar: www.stpl.ca/events.html
Or, directly here:
Telephone: 647-374-4685, OR 647-558-0588
Meeting ID: 729 301 821
ACSA Food Bank
Thanks to Councillor Jim Karygiannis for highlighting the needs of the Agincourt Community Services Food Bank. As always, St. Paul’s is eager to support ACSA. A monetary gift is the most practical and serves the exact needs of the food bank. Gifts can be given online: www.namf.ca/donate-now.html
Volunteers - A Note from ACSA
ACSA has remained OPEN and we are helping residents receive food and essential items, helping newcomers with making sure they are receiving services, reaching out to the homeless or those in shelter to stay safe, helping finish off the tax forms of our clients, and more.
At this critical time, we are looking for volunteers to help with our Food Bank. We are looking for Food Bank Packagers and Food Bank Delivery Drivers to the elderly and differently-abled. Volunteers are the lifeblood of our community and we wanted to send a quick note to see if any of you could spend a few hours each week to help. We are providing masks and gloves. Yesterday, our volunteers at our Food Bank got a feature on Toronto’s CityNews: www.toronto.citynews.ca/video/2020/05/07/volunteers-helping-keep-hundreds-of-families-fed/
The Food Bank volunteer role can involve:
- Lifting and moving bags and food items up to 20lbs.
- Packaging food into bags and boxes and moving them to different rooms.
- Using your own vehicle to deliver bags/boxes up to 20lbs each to various locations around Toronto
- Driving to the Food Bank (1911 Kennedy Road, Scarborough) to pick up the food items at the back, without entering the building
- Using your cell phone to contact recipients of the boxes before and upon delivery
- Wearing your provided Personal Protective Equipment such as gloves, mask, hand sanitizer, etc.
If anyone is interested and able to help with either or both of these roles, please fill out the COVID-19 Emergency Volunteer Application Form.
Please also share this with your friends and family, so we can continue to help all Toronto residents. Those completing the form will be contacted within 48 hours.
Information: Carmen Ighani, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, Agincourt Community Services Association (ACSA), 416-321-6912 ext. 248.
S.P.Y. - St. Paul’s Youth - Friday Nights, 7 p.m.
Friday fellowships carry on. Information about how to connect is available on the Church Calendar: www.stpl.ca/events.html
Town Hall - “What Do We Tell Our Children”
In the light of recent events following the tragic death of George Floyd, a town hall for St. Paul's parents was held last evening, around the question: “What Do We Tell Our Children”. Panelists included Fr. Theadore Hunt, St. Stephen’s Downsview, Racquel Brown of Empower and Equip, and Tahirah Simmons, a Youth Mental Health Practioner. The evening was hosted by Jacqueline Abel & Sarah Mair. Thank you, panelists. Thank you, Jacqueline and Sarah.
The regular schedule of Morning Prayer according to the Book of Common Prayer meets Monday to Saturday at 7.30 a.m.. All are welcome and may participate by phone or internet. It's short, simple and quiet, but a proven path and one of the gems in the Anglican tradition. We follow the Book of Common Prayer, beginning on page 6. If you want to look ahead, the lessons from the Old and New Testaments, as well as the Psalm, are taken from The Daily Office Lectionary and can be found here: https://lectionary.anglican.ca/.
Here’s the link: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/397231088
Here are the phone numbers and ID: 647-374 4685, or 647-558 0588; Meeting ID: 397 231 088
Looking for Work
Slowly, businesses are opening and jobs are resuming, and while some of the employment projections are encouraging, we could also be looking at a lot of lost jobs. If you’re looking, or know someone who is, here’s the national job site: www.jobbank.ca
Friday Night Bible Study - on Zoom
The Friday night Bible studies on. On May 22, we began a study of the Book of Revelation, a book that is often avoided due to its coded language and many symbols. But here’s from the study guide we will follow: “In fact, Revelation offers one of the clearest and sharpest visions of God's ultimate purpose for the whole creation, and of the way in which the powerful forces of evil, at work in a thousand ways, can be and are being overthrown through the victory of Jesus the Messiah and the consequent costly victory of his followers.”
Paperback copies or electronic versions of the study guides can be purchased online at Amazon.
Paperback: Revelation (N. T. Wright for Everyone Bible Study Guides) - Paperback
Kindle: Revelation (N. T. Wright for Everyone Bible Study Guides) - Kindle
For those interested, the commentary is also available: Revelation for Everyone
Next week, June 12: Revelation, chapter 4. In the study guide, Lesson 4.
Here’s the link:
Friday night Bible Study - Revelation, 7.00 pm
Telephone: 647-374 4685, or 647-558 0588; Meeting ID: 830 877 703
We have updated the online Church Calendar to list all the events that are available online - www.stpl.ca/events.html. It includes:
*Sunday School every Sunday at 10 am, led by Leila and the teachers, with Rob and U3ia.
*Regular Bible studies and prayer meetings in Chinese organized by Pastor Andrew and Kevin Zhang. To participate, contact Pastor Andrew: firstname.lastname@example.org
*A regular Bible study for the Tamil congregation by Zoom every Wednesday at 7.30 pm for a study of the Gospel of Luke. Pastor Vive is also helping with the study. Please contact Fr. Milton Solomon directly: (email@example.com).
*The regular Friday Night Small Group and Bible Study.
*Morning Prayer, Monday to Saturday.
The regular events are being listed on the online church Calendar, including the information about how to phone in or connect by internet.
Coronavirus Updates from the Diocese
The Bishop of Toronto, in consultation with the provincial college of Bishops, has chosen to suspend all public worship and other gatherings in the Diocese until further notice - www.toronto.anglican.ca. The Diocesan website provides regular updates.
Extension of the Diocesan Jubilee - Month of June 30
In light of the Covid-19 outbreak and the large financial strain on the parishes, Bishop Andrew Asbil announced a Jubilee through to the end of May. On Friday, May 22, it was announced that the Jubilee has been extended to include the month of June due to the help of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), in place through to the end of August. During the Jubilee, parishes will not be required to pay their allotment to the Diocese or to pay the costs of clergy remuneration (stipend, housing and associated benefits).
The extension of the Jubilee is closely related to the re-opening of the churches for Sunday services. It is still unclear when this will be allowed, but plans “are well underway in the Diocese to develop protocols for congregations to follow to ensure a safe return.”
The May 22 update from Bishop Asbil and Robert Saffrey (Executive Director) can be found here: www.toronto.anglican.ca/2020/05/22/letter-to-the-diocese-from-bishop-andrew-and-robert-saffrey/
The assistance from the diocese and federal government has relieved parishes of their diocesan assessments, clergy stipends and up to 75% of staff wages through to the end of June. The CEWS will continue until the end of August. For this assistance we give thanks, and for the faithfulness and generosity of the parish.
It is important to remember that the situation is in a state of constant flux right now, one of the large unknowns being what we will face when and as the emergency measures are lifted. But these offers of support are of great assistance, and the support of the parish remains strong.
Faithworks Easter Appeal
This year’s campaign is a very special effort as a generous donor has offered a $100,000 matching challenge grant for all new and increased donations. That means for every dollar raised over last year’s amount, FaithWorks received an extra dollar. To date, our Easter Appeal has raised over $60,000 in new or increased donations. THANK YOU to all who have been so generous. However, we will only receive the Matching Challenge Grant of $100,000 if we raise the full $100,000 ourselves. We still have a ways to go. So please help us reach our goal by making your donation today at our web site www.faithworks.ca. It's easy to do!
Tax Receipts - have now been mailed.
Brother’s and Sister’s Keepers
If you are willing to be your brother’s or sister’s keeper by being in regular contact with one or two other persons from the parish, please contact the office or any of the clergy for more information.
Have you moved?
f you have moved recently, kindly notify the office of your new address, phone number and e-mail address. We appreciate your help.
Gifts and Offerings
The emergency measures and suspension of all church services and programs presents a large challenge to churches and charities dependent on regular gatherings and fundraising events. Your faithful support is as important now as it has ever been. Church Envelopes can be sent by mail. Members may wish to sign up for the Pre-Authorized Giving Program (contact the office). Or, gifts can be made online at our website through CanadaHelps here: www.stpl.ca/give.html
Members who use online banking may now also make E-transfers (contact the office).
One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
Thank You - through envelopes mailed in, through the Pre-Authorized Giving Program, and through CanadaHelps on the website, the parish has remained constant and faithful through the quarantine. Thank you. God bless you.
Staying in Touch
The clergy of St. Paul’s are all in the vicinity. If any one of us can be of service, don’t hesitate to call or write.
Church website: www.stpl.ca
Church phone: 416-499-1545
Church email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fr. Dean Mercer: email@example.com
Rectory phone: 416-497-6352