This Virus is Teaching is All of Us How to be Pacifists

The Time of the Virus has taught us all many things. We’re learning new words, how to cook new meals at home, and that we rarely washed our hands for twenty seconds. But I’ll bet you didn’t think that you were learning how to become a pacifist!

That’s right! You have been embracing the enemy-loving, Jesus-y ethic that is pacifism!

Pacifism gets a bad rap. It gets mixed up with passivism – doing nothing. In our present situation “doing nothing” would mean continuing on with how we used to live: meeting with friends and family, hugging or shaking hands with others, going out to work, school, restaurants, parks, and gathering in large groups for sports, weddings, or funerals. Doing all those things would actually mean “doing nothing” in the face of this virus.

However, like good pacifists, we are actively working against the spread of this virus by doing the hard work of not “doing nothing.” We are staying home, washing our hands for twenty seconds, cleaning or disinfecting more frequently, socially/physically distancing, and only making essential trips. 

Pacifism requires creativity, commitment, trust, and a whole lot of patience. It is much more than being anti-war. Pacifism also engenders criticism by those who want quick, decisive, and often violent actions. This virus can’t be defeated that way. People talk about “fighting the virus,” but there’s nothing violent about staying home. We need to be patient, creative, and actively not “do nothing.” We’re all learning how to become pacifists.

Hear Your Name, Called by the Resurrected One (an Easter Sermon)

29871877_10160388152455171_1114473262367905170_oAs the 2017-18 Senior Student at Wycliffe College, I had the privilege of giving the sermon at the final Eucharist service of the school year. I thought I would share the message for those who weren’t able to make it 🙂

For those of you unfamiliar with Wycliffe, preaching in Founders’ Chapel is a significantly different experience and different community than where and to whom I normally preach. Each Wednesday the community gathers for Eucharist–faculty, students, families, and friends–and usually a visiting bishop or guest speaker delivers the homily. No pressure… right?

Note: the italicized text in square brackets is added just for you online readers.]


Readings: Isaiah 25:6–9 | Psalm 118:1–2, 14–24 | Acts 10:34–43 | John 20:1–18

Prayer: For the Extension of the Church, Book of Common Prayer, p. 42

Almighty God, who by thy Son Jesus Christ didst give commandment to the Apostles that they should go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature: Grant to us whom thou hast called into thy Church, a ready will to obey thy Word; and fill us with a hearty desire to make thy way known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
[It’s important to note that this prayer is from the BCP, an OLD prayer book that Wycliffe uses on alternating months with the Book of Alternative Services (BAS), I like the prayer, but would not ordinarily use this kind of language]

Christ is Risen! (He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!)

 [The “Hallelujah!” catches me off guard, as I’m used to simply “He is risen indeed!”  A certain faculty member was especially exuberant about the “Hallelujah!” so I laughed with joy, and also asked everyone to be aware that I will expect a couple of responses throughout the message.]

Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). [link to passage]

When Jesus calls her by her name, she immediately knows that it is her Lord.

The Good Shepherd knows his sheep and “calls them by name,” and his sheep “know his voice.”

In one word, spoken by the most significant person Mary Magdalene had ever known, her entire life changed. She became the first person, ever, to experience the personal presence of the Risen Lord.

Continue reading “Hear Your Name, Called by the Resurrected One (an Easter Sermon)”

Why Keep a Sabbath?

The Deuteronomy reason for Sabbath-keeping is that our ancestors in Egypt went four hundred years without a vacation (Deut. 5:15). Never a day off. The consequence: they were no longer considered persons but slaves. Hands. Work units. Not persons created in the image of God but equipment for making bricks and building pyramids. Humanity was defaced.

Lest any of us do that to our neighbour or husband or wife or child or employee, we are commanded to keep a sabbath. The moment we begin to see others in terms of what they can do rather and who they are, we mutilate humanity and violate community. It is no use claiming “I don’t need to rest this week and therefore will not keep a sabbath” — our lives are so interconnected that we inevitably involve others in our work whether we intend it or not. Sabbath-keeping is elemental kindness. Sabbath-keeping is commanded to preserve the image of God in our neighbours so that we see them as they are, not as we need them or want them.

From Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity by Eugene Peterson

It’s been a while…

I haven’t blogged in a while.

Self-reflection is a practice that is heavily stressed in Teacher’s College – to the point where its value is often depreciated.  Many complain.

But today was the second day in a row where I took time to listen to music for the sake of listening.  As a musician and music student teacher, I rarely make time to enjoy or use music as therapy (un-wind, relax, comfort) and I seem to forget how affective and wonderful it is to listen to music.

I have a forty-five minute subway ride back downtown from my teaching placement and its been refreshing to listen to Iron and Wine’s Our Endless Numbered Days these past two days.  Soft guitar playing and relaxing melodies with the occasional heavier bluesy track, it has brought peace and calm to my busy and restless heart and mind.

Writing reflections on my day in this mood is a very effective use of my time.

Take some time to listen to what you need to.  Take some time to reflect.

A Thought on Excessiveness:

We should remain within the limits imposed by our basic needs and strive with all our power not to exceed them. For once we are carried a little beyond these limits in our desire for the pleasures of life, there is then no criterion by which to check our onward movement, since no bounds can be set to that which exceeds the necessary.

– Fifth-century monk Nilus of Ancyra

I am regularly inspired by the thoughts of “ancient” folks.

I remember being humbled in a grade 11 English class when my teacher posed the question of whether we thought of ourselves as more intelligent or knowledgeable than people in ages past.  We have different knowledge, not a greater knowledge.

Nilus here is talking about living simply.  Something that is often thought of as faddish.  But it is something that I strive for.  I like his observation that there is no way to gauge excessiveness — anything beyond the limits of our basic needs is excessive.

The Human Race and the Body of Christ

We know the Human Race.
We know the Body of Christ.

Are we as a church, aware of our body?
Each of its members, all of the parts, the structure and interdependence of it all, its flexibility and ability to grow.

Could we describe humanity as a community or body?
Could we describe the church as a community or body?

Is the world in chaos.  Are we literally a race to be alive today?  A race for comfort, health, supremacy, safety.

Does the church reflect this “race”?

Or, are we as a church, an actual community, an actual body.

How Healthy is the world.
How healthy are we?

Summer Time

Well.. it’s now August 9th, and:

I’ve had a summer that started with a road trip, followed by a 3 week internship at a High School (music classroom helping), and now I’ve got a month left of working at a tractor dealership (which has lent my name to being published in a local periodical).

I’m at the point where I’m stoked to go to Toronto for school and meet up with all my school compadres.  Yet, I know I’m going to miss looking out at 6 acres of peaches out the window and living at home.

Working in the shipping/receiving and parts department of a tractor dealership has been a mostly unrewarding job.  There’s not much to look forward to… other than some very hilariously inappropriate comments and incredibly creative uses of curse words by the mechanics (one in particular).

Moving to and living in Toronto will be really great.  I’m joining MoveIn – intentional Christian community living in poor and densely populated areas.  I’ll be living with 2 other guys in an apartment in St. Jamestown, and we’re part of a ‘Patch’ that includes another 2-3 girls who will be living in an apartment nearby.  We’ll meet for weekly prayer meetings, and be a presence in the community.  (I will be blogging about this soon, and will give much more detail).

I also might be doing an internship at a church in Oakville.  We shall see… updates to come.