Christmas Services at St. James

Canon Keith Nethery and the congregation and St. James Westminster extend a warm welcome to all as we anticipate the birth of Jesus and celebrate Christmas together. We have many styles of worship to appeal to all, and hope that you will be inspired to join us in worship this Christmas season.

December 3, 11:30am
Advent Luncheon – Join us as we celebrate the first Sunday in Advent with a luncheon of chicken tetrazzini, macaroni and cheese, salads, desserts, tea, and coffee. All are welcome!

December 9, 7:30pm
Brassroots – Our annual celebration of the Joy of Christmas features guests Stephen Holowitz and the Choir of St. James Westminster Anglican Church, offering festive fanfares, carols and seasonal favorites. Pay-What-You-Can at the door, with our best wishes for the holiday season!

December 17, 4:00pm
Service of Lessons and Carols – Join us for this much-loved service of readings and songs to celebrate the coming of Christ.

December 24, 8:30am
Christmas Eve Service – Celebrate the coming of Christ though a traditional service.

Note there is no 10:30am service on December 24.

December 24, 2017, 4:00pm
Christmas Pageant – The children of St. James Westminster invite you to share the story of Jesus’ birth through songs and a play.

December 24, 7:00pm
Jazz Mass – Join us for a special Christmas Eve service featuring jazz music by musicians from St. James and the community.

December 24, 10:00pm
Traditional Service – We will celebrate the birth of Jesus in this traditional evening service.

December 25, 10:00am
Christmas Service – Celebrate Jesus’ birth in this Christmas morning service. (one service only this day)

Sunday, November 19, 2017
Talents

Matthew 25:14-30: ‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

 

The Gospel reading was the third of a trio of apocalyptic/judgment stories from Matthew 24/25. The Epistle from Thessalonians also had an end times theme. We often get it backwards thinking that Paul built his writings from the available Gospels, when in fact much of Paul’s writing predates the four Gospels we know, being written down.

This helps us make sense of the quandary first addressed last week as to why/how Matthew could puts words in Jesus mouth about the second coming before He had left earth for the first time ie the Matthew passages come just before Jesus turns to Jerusalem. I certainly grew up thinking the Bible was assembled in chronological order, but have since learned that this is far from the case and assuming a chronology can severely inhibit our understanding of what is being communicated.

If we are able to see that the author of Matthew’s Gospel, who was writing for a Jewish audience, is perhaps adding a bit of a political/theological bent to his Gospel to line up with Jewish traditions in making a case for Jesus as Messiah. This segment of Matthew’s Gospel is not found in the other three Gospels.

The point of all this is to remind people to do what these three stories are designed to illicit – a sense of being watchful. Interpretation of Scripture requires that we spend time to ensure that we have a broad range of facts and opinions in putting our thoughts into place.

Having shown the method two weeks in a row, I was comfortable to answer the questions I left hanging the week before – What say you about the end times? My answer is actually rather simply. Studying and discussing all the angles, possibilities and interpretations is of great interest and provides a stimulating conversation. However in the end it does not displace the requirement to have faith and motivated by that faith, to be prepared to meet my God whenever and however that might occur. Given the history I know, that will most likely be when I draw my last breath on this earth. What happens from there is literally in God’s hands. If by chance Jesus should return before my last day, well there is no way I can know the day or hour, so the answer is the same.

THE REV. CANON KEITH NETHERY

Sunday, November 12, 2017
The Bridegroom

Matthew 25:1-13: ‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps.

The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

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The Gospel reading was the story of the wise and foolish bridesmaids from the 25th Chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. It was pointed out that this was the beginning of the tradition of apocalyptic readings coming into the Advent season.

The questions then becomes, “What do we believe about the end times?” There are many thoughts and theories. How do we come to our own understanding?

Early in seminary, theology students are taught that the place to start is who is saying what to who and what did it mean to the people who heard it. While most commentaries suggest that in this parable, Jesus is the bridegroom and the purpose of the story was to speak of his second coming. The problem with that is that the story, in Matthew, comes before Jesus death, so his first coming isn’t yet over. If Jesus spoke these words in the historic timeline proposed, the story would be heard as a prediction of his impending death.

However, this parable is found only in Matthews Gospel which begs the question “Why didn’t the authors of Mark, Luke and John include this story?” A further question was posed around the nature of bridesmaids waiting for the groom and why they wouldn’t share their oil?

What I wanted to do in this homily was to remind people that as baptized Christians, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we need to take our place in the discussion of the meaning of Scripture and how it impacts in our society today. All opinions must be welcomed and everyone must take their role in interpreting. The only way to do that, is to study the Scriptures and participate in deep Christian learning.

So I leave it to you: “What do you believe about the end times and why do you believe it?

The Rev. Canon Keith Nethery

Sunday, October 29, 2017
Nothing Greater Than This

 

 

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’   (Matthew 22:34-40)

 

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Sometimes, by happy synchronicity the gospel reading lines up with the events of the day, and this is one of those times. I’m not sure I could have chosen a more suitable reading on the day that my ministry here concludes and we officially part ways – but I am going to respond to it a little differently today, in the form of a story that I think speaks to it better than anything I could propose…. so with apologies to Leo Tolstoy for altering and abbreviating his masterpiece, this is called Three Questions.*

 

There once was a very conscientious king who wished to do the best he could do for his people. A thought occurred to him one day, that if he always knew when the right time was to do something, if he could figure out who to be involved with, and if he always knew what was the most important thing to do, then he would never fail in anything he would undertake. And so he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom that he would give a great reward to anyone who could teach him how he would know the right time, the right people, and the right thing to do in any situation. And so, over the next months, people wise and not-so-wise from all over the realm came and offered their advice. But of course, none of them agreed on the answers to the questions, and at the end of the consultation, the king was even more confused than ever, and so not being happy with any of the answers, he decided to consult a hermit living deep in the woods, a man who was widely known for his wisdom and good sense.

 

Now because the hermit normally received only the common folk who lived in the forest, and wanting to go incognito, the king put on workman’s clothes, and before reaching the hermit’s hut, dismounted from his horse, left his bodyguard behind, and went on alone. As he approached, the hermit was busy digging in the garden in front of his hut. Seeing the king, he greeted him, but kept on digging. The hermit was old and frail, and every time the spade hit the ground, he wheezed and groaned. The King went up to the hermit and said, “I have come to ask you three questions: How can I learn to discern the right time to act, the right people to respond to, and the right thing to do? The hermit listened to the king but only shrugged and went back to his digging.

 

After watching for a moment or two, the King said, “You’re tired. Let me take the spade and I’ll dig for a while.” “Thanks”, said the hermit, and giving the spade to the king, he sat down on the ground to rest. After working for a while, the king stopped digging and asked his questions again. As before, the hermit gave no answer, so the king kept digging.   Hours passed, the sun started sinking in the sky, and still the hermit was silent. At last the king stopped digging and said to the hermit, “I came to you hoping for an answer to my questions. If you can’t give me answers, tell me so, and I’ll return home.” But at that very moment, someone came running toward them out of the forest, and the hermit said, “Hold on, here comes someone; let’s see who it is.”

 

A man came running toward them and fell down a little way from the king and fainted. They could see that the man was badly wounded and bleeding, so the king tended to him as best he could, and bandaged him up. When at last the man revived a little, he asked for something to drink, so the king brought some water from a nearby stream and gave it to him. Meanwhile the sun had long since set, and the night had become chilly. So between the king and the hermit, they carried the wounded man into the hut where they placed him on the hermit’s bed.   The king, tired by this time from his day’s exertion, fell to the ground and slept soundly through the night. When he awoke in the morning, the wounded man was gazing at him.

 

“Forgive me!” said the wounded man to the king.

 

“But I don’t know you, and have nothing to forgive you for,” said the king.

 

“You don’t know me, but I know you,” said the wounded man. “Last year you made a judgement against my brother, and confiscated his lands and property. I was angry and swore revenge against you. I knew you had gone into the forest to speak with the hermit, and I was lying in wait to kill you when you came back out of the forest. But your bodyguard caught me and wounded me. I escaped from him, and would have bled to death if had you not looked after me. I wanted to kill you, but you saved my life. Now if I live, and if you wish it, I will be your servant. Again, I say, forgive me.”

 

The king was very glad to have made peace with an enemy so easily, and to have gained him for a friend, so he not only forgave him, but also promised to have the royal physician tend to his injury, and said as well that he would restore his brother’s property.

 

Having concluded his conversation with the wounded man, he went outside and prepared to take his leave from the hermit, who was up and busy sowing seeds in his newly dug garden. The king made one more attempt – “For the last time, are you able, in your wisdom, to answer my three questions?”

 

“But you have already been answered,” said the hermit.

 

“What do you mean?” said the king. “How were my questions answered?”

 

“Don’t you see?” answered the hermit. “If you had not pitied my weakness yesterday, and had you not dug these beds for me, you would have gone on your way, and that man would have attacked you. So the most important time was while you were digging my garden; and at that moment I was the most important person; and to do me good was your most important business. Then afterwards, when that man ran to us, the most important time was when you were attending to him, for if you had not attended to his injury he would have died without making peace with you. So at that moment he was the most important person, and what you did for him was your most important business.

 

“Remember then, there is only one time that is important – and it is Now! The very moment we live in. It is the most important because it is the only time when we have any real power. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow lies in an unknown future. Today is all that we truly have to work with. The most necessary person is the one you’re with, for we can never predict when we will have dealings with another. And the most important thing to do is to do good for the other person… because for that purpose alone, were we sent into this life.”

 

Teacher, which commandment of the law is the greatest? Jesus said to him, “You shall love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. A second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

 

Nancy Adams

Interim Priest in Charge, St. James Westminster

July 2016 – October 2017

 

* http://www.online-literature.com/tolstoy/2736/

St. James Joins Interfaith Tree Planting

On September 19, St. James joined the 5th annual Interfaith Tree Planting event to plant 300 trees in a local park.

On September 19, St. James joined the 5th annual Interfaith Tree Planting event.

Over 135 people from 10 London congregations gathered in Peppertree Park to plant 300 trees and shrubs. This interfaith group has been gathering for 5 years and has planted 1500 trees and shrubs in parks across London. St. James was one of the groups, along with other Christian churches, 2 Jewish synagogues, and 2 Muslim mosques.interfaith tree planting2interfaith tree planting3

interfaith tree planting

Sunday, October 1, 2017
Francis and the World God Loves

 

At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ (Matthew 11:25-30)

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The Church universal has always recognized exceptional and sometimes larger than life people whose faith – and how they chose to live it – set an example for us to imitate at some level….and so today we turn our attention to St. Francis – one of the better known saints through whom the light of Christ shone brightly during his life, a light that continues to illuminate our time and space as well. He left what can only be described as an impressive spiritual legacy that we’re recognizing and celebrating today. So – here’s a little bit about him.

St. Francis was born in the year 1181, between 8 and 900 years ago, in Assisi, a small town almost in the dead centre of Italy. He was born into a wealthy aristocratic family, but when he was still quite a young man, he heard what he believed to be the voice of Jesus telling him to lead a very different kind of life… to live, in fact, like Jesus did, embracing poverty and wandering through the countryside interacting with those he met. Francis found the voice and its message to be compelling, and he immediately gave away everything he owned (including his clothing, if we believe the stories) and started travelling about the countryside. He preached repentance and forgiveness, gave special attention to the poor and the sick, and became known for his kindness and gentleness. It was probably inevitable that he would develop a following, and one of the enduring things he did was to found a monastic order for men, who are known, of course, as Franciscans; and this in turn inspired a woman named Clare of Assisi to petition the pope for permission to found a similar order for women, initially called the Poor Ladies, but are now known as the Poor Clares after their founder. Both orders continue to the present day, adhering as closely as possible to the example Francis set, embracing the lifestyle of voluntary poverty and service to humankind.

One of the things that Francis is best remembered for, though, was his love of animals and of all of Creation….he is, in fact, the patron saint of animals and the environment. It was said that animals and birds felt very comfortable around him, and so paintings or pictures of St. Francis often show him either holding a bird, or with a bird sitting on his shoulder, and perhaps with a collection of animals at his feet.   He so delighted in God’s handiwork as it was revealed in nature, that he thought of the animals and birds, the sun and the moon, the earth and the sky as his brothers and sisters. So in St. Francis we see a vision of Creation that’s worth holding onto…. because he believed that all of creation is one big integrated family, and that we can and should co-exist with animal life and with nature as a whole, in a relationship of trust and mutual respect…. that we can, and should, care for each other.

Now interestingly, we read from Matthew’s gospel this morning what is, arguably, one of the best known and best loved passages of scripture – that marvellous invitation and assurance of Jesus: “Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Those of us who were raised on the Book of Common Prayer recognize that verse as part of the “comfortable words” that form the transition from confession and absolution to the prayer of consecration in the service of Holy Communion; that wonderful opportunity we were given to know that whatever our burden or preoccupation of the day, we could lay it at the foot of the cross and experience the unparalleled freedom of knowing that we were, and are, loved, cared for, and ultimately safe. And even as a young child it always felt to me in that moment, that Jesus was speaking to me personally, inviting me to breathe and regain my sense of balance.

And so when I saw that this was the gospel text for today, I thought, how peculiar it is that this reading, which seems to turn us inward to an awareness of our own personal issues, should be chosen for St. Francis’ Day – because on the surface, I really couldn’t fathom the connection. We’re here after all, to celebrate Creation as Francis envisioned it – not to focus on our own personal preoccupations; here to understand ourselves and the human species as part of creation and not outside of it or above it; here to focus less on our own concerns and more on the bigger picture. But as I thought about it, I realized that maybe it’s time to let that piece of scripture speak to us in a slightly different way, in honour of St. Francis and what he stood for.

When we talk about Creation these days, it’s with the tragic awareness that humankind has disrupted its delicate balances; we’re often told that we’re teetering on the brink of environmental disaster, and indeed, many would suggest, that perhaps we’re already there.   We get the sense that there’s some pretty desperate backpedalling being done to try to undo some of the damage we’re responsible for, to give the fragile earth some space, and opportunity for healing: time to re-create itself. And that’s where the gospel started to make some sense to me – because perhaps it’s inviting us to hear it, not from our own introspective point of view, but from the point of view of Mother Earth. Perhaps it’s time for us to issue to the earth the same invitation that Jesus issued to us – specifically for us to recognize that the earth is weary and heavy laden, and we must offer it rest. Our brothers and sisters, the plants and animals, earth, sea and sky, depend on us for their life and health. So today, may the light that shone through Francis illuminate our prayer: Lord, make us channels of healing and wholeness and peace for the earth you created, the world you love. Amen.

The Blessing of St. Clare:

Live without fear: your Creator has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Go in peace to follow the good road, and may the blessing of God be with you always.

The Venerable Nancy Adams, Interim Priest in Charge

Sunday, September 24, 2017
No Scorecards Allowed

‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the market-place; and he said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went.

When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You also go into the vineyard.” When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.” When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.”

But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’ (Matthew 20:1-16)

 

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It doesn’t take long to realize, once we’ve heard this parable, that we’ve all been there at one time or another.   Maybe it was when we were kids, when we tried extra hard to be good, just so mom would make our very favourite special dessert – and she did – and then we watched as our little brother or sister, who had been just rotten that day got just as big a piece as we did…or maybe even bigger….and life just didn’t seem fair.

Or maybe it happened at school – we were in a group working on a science project, and we came up with the idea, we put in all the work on it and even made up the graphs and charts with the results, while another member of the group contributed maybe just enough to get by, but got just as much credit – and the same good mark – that we did.   And life just didn’t seem fair.

Or maybe it was at our place of employment, where we worked for 10 or 15 years to reach a salary level that reflected our education and experience, only to see a new employee, a freshly minted graduate, come in the front door to do the very same job, and be offered the same salary level that we were making.   And once again, life just didn’t seem fair.

If we want to know why the parable of the labourers in the vineyard has so much power to disturb us, it’s because it automatically takes us back to all those times in our competitive little lives when we have felt resentment – the times when we feel we’ve gone above and beyond and no one has noticed, or when we didn’t get the reward or acknowledgment that we felt we deserved; or we lived (and perhaps still live) with imaginary yardsticks imposed upon us by popular culture telling us repeatedly that we’re not good enough, and encourages our sense of inadequacy in order to sell us stuff. But probably it’s best not to let our life experience can get in the way of how we hear the parable – we know by now about Jesus and his stories – and we know that the gospel isn’t about resentment, but rather, about astonishment. And it is pretty darned astonishing.

Jesus tells his disciples that the kingdom of heaven is like a landlord who hires help at various times through the day, and that at the end of the work day, those hired last and who worked for only an hour, receive, surprisingly, a whole day’s pay. And of course, those who had worked all day in the hot sun don’t think that this is quite fair – and we who experience and rebel at life’s unfairness, know exactly how they feel. But our human understanding of fairness and the landlord’s good pleasure (which we probably should understand to be God’s good pleasure) are apparently two different things altogether.

In the parable, the workers who were hired in the morning, at the beginning of the day in a sense had a privilege – they knew from the day’s beginning that they had work, and they knew that they would be paid fairly for it. Not so for those who were hired last – they had stood in the marketplace all day watching as others were hired, and finally, just as they have all but given up hope for that day, the landlord comes along with a promise to provide whatever is fair in exchange for an hour’s labour. Gladly they accept – after all, something is better than nothing – but you can well imagine that they would not have been expecting too much. So we can identify with their surprise when the time for payment comes, and the landlord does something completely unexpected, something so totally generous that it exceeds their wildest hopes. A full day’s pay is theirs, even though they didn’t earn it, they didn’t deserve it, and they didn’t expect it.

Sounds suspiciously like Grace, doesn’t it? Or at least what we say we believe about Grace….that we don’t earn it, we don’t deserve it, and we don’t necessarily always expect it.

I spent three days this past week at the annual diocesan clergy conference, and our theme speaker for the event was the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, an edgy Lutheran pastor, author and public theologian from Denver, Colorado who started a church there about 10 or more years ago called the House for All Sinners and Saints. She has an unabashedly colourful vocabulary and the ability to name inconsistencies and peculiarities in the Church and its practices in a few well-chosen and often mildly sarcastic phrases….in other words she was a real breath of fresh air. With 2017 marking the 500th anniversary of the kickoff of the Protestant Reformation by Martin Luther, it was fitting that Nadia reminded us right at the start that the key thrust of the Reformation was to reclaim the notion that the foundation of the Kingdom of God is grace, and not works…by which we know and understand that God’s sorting system and ours in no way resemble each other, and that every time we draw lines in the sand that separate us from one another in the human family, Jesus is usually on the other side of the dividing line. Grace, she reminded us, is the gift of God that says we are worthy and loved, just as we are; not because of what we do, but simply because of who we are: and we are beloved children of a God who chooses to turn up in our lives and in the lives of others often in marvelously unexpected ways.

Our problem with this is that we tend to forget that when Jesus offers the kingdom of God to the less deserving, he takes nothing away from the more deserving. There is no need for spiritual competition – because the outcome – no matter which part of the sinner/saint continuum we think we fall into – is as good as it can get. In other words, we should throw the scorecards away and simply rejoice that it doesn’t matter if we are morally superior or morally bankrupt; it doesn’t matter if we are a big destination church or a small group of two or three gathered together; it doesn’t matter if we’re dripping with wealth or struggling to make ends meet; it just doesn’t matter, because the river of grace in which we dog-paddle along only requires, really, that we relax and enjoy the swim. Everything else flows from this one critical fact.

So I guess the good news of this parable is that the kingdom of God works on the basis of God’s generosity, and not on the basis of what we do or don’t deserve, or think we deserve. And when we think about it, if we really believe that the river of God’s grace is limitless, how then can we possibly begrudge it to someone else? It’s not as if someday it’s just going to run out. Fossil fuels will someday run out. But grace? Never.   It just seems much more comforting to me to believe in a God whose pleasure it is to share boundless grace with all of us – to actually give us more than we deserve, and not merely what we believe we earn. In the language of the parable, the last and the first are all alike – and simply because it pleases God to be generous. God’s blessings are meant for all.

May we grow in love for others as generously as God loves us. For this we pray and together say Amen.

 

 

The Ven. Nancy Adams

 

Anyone interested in learning more about the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, her books, her blog, and the House for All Sinners and Saints can follow these links:

http://www.nadiabolzweber.com/

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/

http://houseforall.org/

 

New Rector Announced: Rev Canon Keith Nethery

St. James Westminster is pleased to announce the appointment of Rev Canon Keith Nethery as the new rector to lead our congregation.

St. James Westminster is pleased to announce the appointment of a new rector to lead our congregation. Rob Vass, Warden, made this announcement on September 17, 2017.

On behalf of the St. James Westminster Church Selection Committee and the Bishop of Huron, Bishop Linda, I am very pleased to announce that Bishop Linda has appointed the Reverend Canon Keith Nethery as the rector of St. James Westminster Church, London effective November 1, 2017. Canon Keith is currently the rector of Holy Trinity-St. Stephen’s in London.

I would like to very much like Thank the Selection Committee who performed the task of Selection with great passion, caring, professionalism and thoughtful prayer. The Selection Committee included:

  • Rob Vass- Chair
  • Anne Mckay- Co Chair
  • Ken Andrews
  • Steve Turner
  • Jennifer Meister
  • Judy Jones
  • Susan Collins
  • Ron Cripps
  • Steve Mayne
  • Joan Barnum
  • Laura Manias

I would also like to acknowledge and thank both John Sizeland and Duncan Sizeland, who when Keith’s name was presented graciously stepped down as a result of their family relationship.

I would also like to on behalf of the Wardens and the Congregation of St. James like to express our sincere thanks and gratitude to Nancy Adams for your spiritual leadership, caring support and great dedication for St. James over the past year.
Lastly , I would like to introduce in the form of a note from Keith a message to the congregation of St. James:

Well, let’s see – I’m humbled, thankful, excited, scared and a couple of dozen other things as I am presented to you today as your new Rector. Some of you will know me, other’s are thinking – who is he? Well, I’m Keith! I’m an ideas person. I colour a bit outside the lines, but I understand tradition. Our future is what we make of it together and I will push just a little to define that. We are a family of God’s people and everyone is part of the family and everyone has a voice. I fancy myself as a story teller and that is how I teach and preach, in fact story is the biggest part of me. My door is always open and I never met a conversation I didn’t enjoy. That said, I am a card carrying introvert, who has learned to function in the extrovert portion of God’s creation. I like the Kansas City Chiefs, Denny Hamlin and the Toronto Blue Jays. I don’t watch hockey (you’ll get to hear the story as to why.) I like 70’s stuff and country music (but not so much today’s
country) I used to be a radio announcer in a previous life! I’m married to Suzanne. Sarah-Anne, Rebekah and Noah are my children and we also have a beagle named Charlie (although that isn’t what I usually call him.) I have no sense of humour what so ever! If you are thinking, “this isn’t how we would expect our new priest to introduce himself.” Well, that’s just me!

I wish to share with you what a tremendous job your search committee did. The documentation was well prepared and provided a wonderful snapshot of the parish. During the interview process they made a comfortable, safe space, but were not afraid to ask challenging questions and to dialogue with the answers. The parish visits (which are difficult because we have to pretend we don’t know each other) were handled with care. Through the entire process I felt the Spirit of God and an honest sense of trying to determine how best for this Parish to go forward. I believe Rob will thank the group by name. I would however like to thank two people who were on the committee and then weren’t on the committee. John Sizeland and Duncan Sizeland, my brother in law and nephew, graciously stepped aside when it was announced that I would be a candidate. I know Duncan especially was thrilled to be chosen and I know it must have hurt to step back. While John and Duncan took no part in the interview and selection process, I know they did great work in the original start up and have kept the parish and the candidates in prayer during this time.

It hurts to leave my friends at Holy Trinity St. Stephens Memorial and Christ Church Glanworth. For many of them I have been pastor for more than a decade. So I come with a tear in my eye and a quiver in my heart, but in my spirit I believe this is God’s plan. There is much to be done and I can’t wait to be amongst you and begin to create and carry out the vision.

Blessings,

Keith

Sunday, September 10, 2017
Loosing the Hurricane of Hope

‘Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

 

Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.’

(Romans 13:8-14)

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Jesus said, “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:15-20)

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I was just a very small child when Hurricane Hazel catapulted through southeastern Ontario in the mid-1950’s, but I’ll never forget it – and I wouldn’t be surprised if the mere mention of the name brings memories to the surface for many of you as well. My family was fortunate – our home was 100 miles away from Toronto where it hit the hardest, and we weren’t really affected by it. But when Hazel’s 110 kilometre an hour winds finally exhausted themselves, and the storm had emptied 12 inches of rain in the space of 48 hours, the destruction was overwhelming – bridges and streets washed out, widespread flooding, entire houses carried out into Lake Ontario, 81 dead, and 4000 families homeless. For many it must have felt like the end of the world. And we don’t have to look even that long ago or far away to remember nature at its unpredictable worst – it’s not that long ago that a tornado tore its way through downtown Goderich, and of course we’ve experienced a few smaller but similar episodes locally since then. It only takes one such event to realize just how quickly things can change.

And this week, most of us have aware of the news reports coming out of Texas and many Caribbean nations of the devastation left in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma – for countless thousands also a grim reminder that life as we know it can change in the twinkling of an eye.

The earliest Christians were convinced in quite a literal way that the end of their world was nigh – not from feisty weather systems, but from social and political and military realities – and this belief found voice in various New Testament writings. The people looked around at the oppressive might of the Roman Empire under which they were being oppressed and persecuted and killed, and believed that it just couldn’t last – that surely God would bring a fitting end to it, and frankly, the sooner the better. St. Paul clearly had this in mind in the part of his letter to the Roman church that we read from today – “you know what time it is”, he says somewhat ominously – and he doesn’t need to spell it out. In his mind, and in the minds of his listeners, it’s time for the end of the age, time a changing of the guard.

But what’s really interesting to me is the sense of expectancy and even hope with which he says, effectively: ‘no matter how bad things look now, this isn’t the falling of night, but rather the beginning of a new day.’ Clearly he believed that the trials and tribulations faced by the early church were simply a gateway to a new world of justice and peace; they were engaged in the exciting process of birthing something new – specifically the Second Coming of Christ who would usher in the Kingdom of God in all its glory. They quite literally expected that one day soon the sky would split open, the stars would fall, and Christ would come down out of heaven heralded by trumpets as the dead climbed out of their graves. As we’re all aware, this didn’t happen for them, and as tempted as some of us may be to simply dismiss this theology as some kind of fanatical wishful thinking, the notion of a Second Coming and the end of things as we know them, at its core actually expresses something important. And simply stated, it’s the faith that things are not always going to be the way they are now, that even in the worst of times God does not abandon us, and ultimately that death and destruction don’t have the last word. In fact, whether we believe the end of time will happen today, next year, or 10 thousand years from now, we believe that we are not alone in our assorted trials and that there is calm after every storm.

And the demand of this belief, St. Paul says, is to “live honourably” – living as Christ taught, building a society in which all are valued; a society in which boundaries of race or gender or wealth or whatever are a thing of the past; a society built on the commandment of love for God and neighbour. So in essence what Paul is saying here, I think, is that as much as we might want to just sit back and wait for Jesus to float down out of the clouds and rescue us from ourselves, in reality we are to help create the new world. It’s not just about God’s action, but about ours as well. As Jesus says in the Gospel lesson, what we bind on earth – that is, what we create in the here and now by our words and deeds – is bound in heaven – that is, it creates a future for others as well as ourselves, for good or ill, which we may never have imagined.

Saying that the end of the world is nigh might sound like a pretty accurate assessment, at least on an emotional level, of what’s going on in the world these days; but the truth is that the beginning of the world is nigh as well. The destruction of a Hurricane Harvey, the challenge of environmental degradation, the mounting political tensions in North Korea, or the various personal disasters and tragedies we face all threaten us with the end of the world we know and in which we feel secure. We can feel terrified by these realities, helpless, and powerless to respond; we can try to hide from them and distract ourselves with trivialities. Or, we can open our eyes, lift up our heads, and begin to shape the new world out of the ashes of the old, as Paul says: ‘laying aside the works of darkness and putting on the armour of light.’

The promise of Scripture is that beyond the darkest hours there is a new dawn, a new creation, which we have responsibility to build with God in this world. So as we pray for those affected by hurricane and flood this week (and hopefully provide financial support through relief agencies as we are able), and for all who are experiencing the collapse of the world they know, we rest also in the faith that God is present in the midst of every storm. May we live with this awareness, may we be the hands and voice of faithful and compassionate response, and may we hold onto the promise that beyond every night a new day dawns. For this we pray and together say Amen.

The Venerable Nancy Adams