"Among the glories of Canada's great landscapes are its mountains". "In the scriptures, mountains are places of encounter with God". "Fond of mountain imagery, the prophet Isaiah writes of that day when 'Many people shall come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths"(Isaiah 2:3)'. Advent is such a time -- an invitation to learn anew the ways of the Lord and to live by them". "In a world gripped by fear of terrorist activities at home and abroad, we dare to hope. In a year in which the world has witnessed some of the most atrocious crimes against humanity, we dare to pray. In a time in the history of humanity, darkened by so much malice and wickedness in the hearts of some, we dare to light the candles of the Lord and sing once again the carols that tell of his coming".
The Primate reflects on his attendance at the northern event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) held in Inuvik, NWT, in June 2011. "One of the things we have learned from the survivors of the residential schools is that birthdays were not celebrated. So, in advance of this event, the participating churches, in consultation with the TRC, planned a party". After the storytelling portion of the event, survivors attended a party held at the Midnight Sun Complex. "As the survivors came into their party, they were generally overjoyed that their birthdays were being honoured. Each one received a cupcake. .... As the lights were dimmed, everyone raised their cupcake in the air with delight. TRC Commissioner Chief Wilton Littlechild invited each one to shout out the date of their birth and they did so with great gusto. Then everyone joined in the singing of 'Happy Birthday', not only in English but in numerous dialects among first Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples".
"While the thought of the parish annual meeting, or vestry as it is known in some dioceses, does not thrill everyone's heart, I confess to being one of those people for whom it actually did ! Even though the compiling of the annual report was a lot of work, I always felt it was worth the effort". "This year every parish has a great opportunity for such a conversation. It is known as 'The Heartbeat of the Church' (https://www.anglican.ca/heartbeat). Recalling Jesus teaching at the Last Supper, we are invited to consider times when our church's witness to the gospel, local and national, makes our hearts glad; when its witness falls short and makes our hearts ache; when its witness makes our hearts feel hopeful. How might our reflections judge and reform our habits, refresh and renew our ministries ? How might they impact the vision to which we aspire ? How might they inform a heartfelt prayer for our church ? I think this would be a wonderful conversation for annual general meetings this year. If time really prevents you from acting on this opportunity, perhaps you could have your AGM set a a date for special gathering of the parish family for this purpose".
Article accompanied by inset text of John 15:12-17 which begins: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you".
The primate reflects on the image of a choir boy which hung in his mother's room and belonged to his grandmother and great-grandmother. "He has the face of an angel. Don't all young choristers ? His eyes are lifted heavenward. As if the hymn has ended, the print is entitled 'Amen'. I always loved this print and I am happy to have it". "Indeed with people of every language, race and nation, we hail his birth and with one voice sing a resounding 'Amen' to every loving purpose of God, in and through his Blessed Son, whom we know as Saviour and Lord of all".
The Primate reflects on the festival of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple (Luke 2:22-40) and in particular on the often overlooked role of the prophet Anna. "In every generation, the church has been wonderfully blessed by women who, like Anna, have invited everyone to come and see the Child of Light, the Lord of Peace, and it still is. I meet theme everywhere I go in my travels throughout our church. This year, as we keep this feast, I will be remembering with intent the Annas in my own life and ministry -- past and present, and I invite you to think of the Annas in yours. Let us thank God for the grace and goodness of their living, and for every word -- spoken and unspoken -- by which they call us to the joy of a life in Christ".
The Primate reflects that 3 June 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of his ordination as a deacon". "Since my own consecration as bishop on January 18, 1995, there have been 69 men and women ordained as bishops of our church; 31 of them within the last 10 years. As I look around the national House of Bishops, I am very aware that within the next three to five years, there will be a massive change in the face of episcopal ministry across our church". "To know I will be remembered as the 'sometime' bishop keeps me humble. It also gives me cause to rejoice that the Spirit will indeed call others into this same ministry of shepherding the People of God and leading the church in its commitment to God's mission. That Spirit, as New Testament scholar Raymond Brown puts it, is 'a Once-and-Coming Spirit' -- coming in every age to renew and refresh the ministry of the church, to grace and guide us for our work in the world".
"Consider this statistic: 45 million people worldwide are captive in modern-day slavery. Two million of them are children. Consider this fact: Canada is known as a source, transit and destination country for trafficking people for the billion-dollar global sex trade and for other forms of exploitative labour. Canadian children and female teens, especially young Indigenous women, are particularly vulnerable". "In responding to a call from the Anglican Consultative Council to develop strategies -- local, regional and global -- to rid the world of this evil, our church is committed to partnering with other churches, other faith-based organizations, civil society and government". "On that Wednesday when ashes are smeared on my forehead, I am mindful, more than ever, of our need to confess the sin of turning our eyes from those who suffer in modern-day slavery and front their oppressors".
"The church celebrates Jesus' baptism every year on the first Sunday after the Epiphany". "It is clear that Jesus understood his baptism as the prelude to his ministry. He moves among the people, teaching, reconciling, bringing hope, announcing peace and proclaiming the coming of God's reign on earth. In the same way, our baptism is a sacramental calling to a life of service in his name. Indeed, as Christopher Duraisingh ('From Church-Shaped Mission to Mission-Shaped Church', Episcopal Divinity School) writes, 'baptism is primarily an event, as it was with the baptism of Christ, "a solidarity plunge" in the waters of Jordan that flow through our neighbourhoods today, that is a commitment to walk in solidarity and compassion with others, sharing their hopes and fears, their joy and pain. As such, baptism is fundamentally a missional act of stepping out with Christ in a life for others'. Pray that, each and every day, God will give us grace 'to make the plunge !'"
Primate Fred Hiltz writes about the former Church of the Good Shepherd Mission, built in the 1950s, which stood in Kingston, Ontario. "I say 'stood' because just recently it was deconsecrated and torn down to make way for the next phase of The Good Shepherd Legacy Initiative. Through a partnership with the diocese of Ontario and Habitat for Humanity, the entire church property is being redeveloped. Phase one has been completed -- the construction of the first double-housing unit, providing homes for two families. Phase two is the building of a new ministry centre that will house a number of programs to meet the needs of the neighbourhood. Within the facility, there will be a multi-purpose space easily transformed for Sunday liturgies and mid-week gatherings. Phase three will be the construction of two more double units, housing for four more families". "This Good Shepherd Legacy Initiative is indeed a story of a congregation devoted to serving its neighbourhood well, and a story of effective partnerships for amazing results".
Archbishop Fred Hiltz relates a story told by Bishop Miguel Tamayo, Anglican Bishop of Cuba, and how the baptism of a child in a church building that was in an unusable state of repair, led to the re-energizing of the congregation and community. "St. Mary the Virgin will soon be ready for re-dedication to the glory of God and the service of Christ".