Rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is His

By the Rev. Ken McClure

I begin with a confession. I sat down to write my entry last week, and as it was Labour Day I was expounding on the sacredness of taking a break when the hypocrisy of my actions confronted me. I stopped and figured it would be far better to demonstrate my point than to labour at making it.

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For this week, I think it may be a good idea to contextualize why these posts have been so rooted in politics generally, and in American politics most consistently.  I believe Christianity to be an inherently political faith. The entire Gospel of Jesus Christ constructs and demonstrates a counter-cultural society called the Kingdom of Heaven. It examines the world around it and it comments on it by presenting a sanctified alternative to the injustices and imbalances it sees.

Each of us who inhabit the Kingdom is called to see and speak wherever we go in an effort to be a part of the Kingdom breaking forth for all. While I try to avoid getting too political from the pulpit, my epistolary pen tends to lean that way. That's why these posts tend to be political.

As for the American pre-occupation, I do confess a life-long love and fascination with American history and politics, but it's more than that. As a student of history, I can comfortably say that the United States is the closest thing to Rome the world has seen since Rome.

Thus to understand our world and our time, we need to understand our neighbors to the south, for as they go, so goeth the world. As a student of scripture, I recognize that the society the Kingdom of Heaven is juxtaposed to is Rome, from the Gospels through to the book of Revelation. Let those with ears hear.

This leads me to what I'd like you all to consider from this, for this week: a week where a far-right party gained increasing electoral support in Sweden (of all places); a week when our premier has been taken to court by the government of our provincial capital for unilaterally slashing that government in half; a week where it has been confirmed that the President of the United States is unfit and surrounded by people who at times are able to directly countermand his orders.

Jesus told us to render to Caesar that which is Caesar's and to God, God's. However, the nature of our system, and the systems in the countries I've referenced. make each and every one of us Caesar.

Our officials are not our rulers, we are theirs. Thus we should be rendering unto each other (and by extension ourselves) the due diligence to ensure that our servants are effectively carrying out our business in a way that doesn't shame us. The greatest advancements in our society have come about because people of faith actively carried that faith with them when engaging in the activities of the arena.

I'm convinced that the only way the societal advancements of the future will come about is if we continue in that long tradition.

Parish NEWS

SCRIPTURE STUDIES AT ST. GEORGE'S

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Weekly bible studies begin Mon. Sept. 17 at 10:00 a.m. and Wed. Sept. 19 at 7:00 p.m.
THE CONTENT WILL BE THE SAME ON BOTH DAYS, so if you'd like to participate you will have two options to best fit your scheduling needs!
The first study will be The Gospel of Mark: Mystery and History, an examination into what's going on behind the scenes in the Gospel we've been hearing in this year's Sunday lectionary. We hope to see you there!

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CREATIVE DEVOTION  at St. George’s
If you like working with your hands, are interested in learning and making new crafts or have ideas to share, and would enjoy a time of devotion while crafting, then this group is for you!
The group meets twice a month on Tuesdays: 10 a.m. to noon on the 2nd Tuesday, and 1 to 3 p.m. the 4th Tuesday. All welcome! At the next meeting on Sept. 25 (1-3 p.m.), you are invited to join in making ‘mock' quilted Christmas ornaments, no sewing required and all supplies provided! Please bring 200 straight pins if you have them. For more information please speak to Barb Fawcett or call 705-754-3161.

Samaritan’s Purse Shoe Box Ministry
A volunteer is needed to be St. George’s representative for the Samaritan’s Purse Shoe Box campaign this fall. If you could undertake this ministry, please contact the church office.

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BBQ BEEF DINNER TIME! 
Saturday, September 29 @ St. George’s
Two sittings: 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.     Tickets: $20/adult and $6/child and may be purchased at Master’s Bookstore, at the Parish office, or at the door
All proceeds to Point in Time Youth Hub and Food for Kids

Workshop on The Anglican Rosary at St Margaret's on Thursday October 18th at 10:00 a.m.   We will learn about what rosary prayer is, how to pray the Anglican rosary, and most importantly how to make an Anglican rosary. Supplies will be provided (or you can bring your own if you happen to have some beads kicking around). Just bring yourself, your faith, and maybe a dish to add to a potluck lunch ;)

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Honourary Assistant Priest David Barker's unusual excuse for missing church:  what was yours?

Fr. Barker, ahem, ‘took a Sunday off’ recently (Aug. 19) to compete in the Orillia Subaru Sprint Triathlon! The race began with a 750-m swim, followed by a 33-km bike race and wrapped up with a 7-km run. The fit father (not to mention grandfather) came in third and won the bronze medal in the 65-69 age category, with a time of 2 hours and 54 minutes!  We are all astonished at this brilliant thinker, preacher, teacher, artisan and all-round nice guy. What can’t he do?

A huge and extra-special thanks to Fr. David for his care and ministry during his tenure as Interim Priest-in-charge, and for agreeing to stand as Honorary Assistant Priest as we move forward. We are so blessed by his faith and presence.

We now have a parish Facebook page! If you’re on FB, you can find it by searching The Parish of Haliburton, or simply click here.  Don’t forget to ‘like’ us!

Congratulations to Robbie Hall on receiving a St. George’s Bursary for post-secondary study. Robbie will be attending Canadore college's Acting for Stage and Screen program this fall. We pray all the best for you, Robbie, as you begin your studies!

The Pregnancy Care and Family Support Centre requires several 2nd-stage rear-facing car seats.  If you can donate one that is not expired and has never been in an accident, please call 705-457-4673. Cribs no more than five years old are also always needed, says Director Julie Goodwin. 

IN THE LIBRARY:   An Extra Mile, by Sharon Garlough Brown
The four-book Sensible Shoes series follows the journeys of four women as they—and you—gain a new understanding of friendship, spiritual truths and a deeper life with God [we reviewed the first book here: Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown: a great help in your journey]. In the fourth and final book, An Extra Mile, the women navigate both deep joy and devastating loss. Can they find equilibrium in the midst of all that has changed? 

St. George's Compassion Canada child, young Yafreisy Delgado De La Rosa, lives in Los Montacitos, the Dominican Republic with her father. A photo of Yafreisy is posted on the bulletin board. If you would like to write to her, contact Kathy Burk at 705-457-2357. Please keep this family in your prayers. 

Bring in your dead AA batteries and help save a life!  Students at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School, joining with the Zinc Saves Lives campaign, want to help you super-recycle your batteries.  More than 450,000 children die every year from complications associated with zinc deficiency. A tiny AA battery contains enough zinc to save the lives of six malnourished children. Your recycling will reduce the amount of electronic waste going to landfills and save lives. You may bring your double-A batteries to the Source and Home Hardware in Haliburton, or place them in the yellow container on the table in the St. George’s church hall. For more information on the campaign, please click here.

Open to all seniors: The VON SMART exercise program helps with balance, strength and flexibility Classes held in Haliburton at Echo Hills 1 p.m. Thursdays; in Minden in the Hyland Crest auditorium 11 a.m. Wednesdays.

GOD SIGHTINGS!

God is active in all of our lives and in our community. We just need to pay more attention. Here's the challenge: look for God at work in your home, out in the community. When you notice God’s work or feel His Presence, write it down. Think on these amazing things and, when you feel ready, try to share with your church family. You will be offered an opportunity to share at some point in the Sunday service.  We are God's witnesses and need to help one another grow in our faith and draw closer to our Lord. Testimonies prove a wonderful way to do that!

A Lion in Winter

By the Rev. Ken McClure

 John McCain, Aug. 1936-Aug. 2108

John McCain, Aug. 1936-Aug. 2108

While there were many developments and doings that happened in the world this week, the one that my mind has been most drawn to has been the death of Senator John McCain. It's not the fact that his story has been one of heroism and sacrifice, though it has. Nor is it the fact that the instances when his lessor demons shouted down his better angels stand as a testimonial to the reality that even the best of us are not always representative of what's best in us.

No, the part of this that captures my imagination is the people he asked give his upcoming eulogy, former presidents George W. Bush and Barak Obama: the men who defeated him in his two attempts to become president. 

This past Sunday I preached on the difficulty of Christian teaching, and cited the call to love our enemies as an example. Senator McCain has demonstrated in death that while difficult, it is not impossible. This is not to say that these former opponents of his are, or ever should be considered his enemies; it is the perversity of our time that we look upon those we disagree with as nothing less than blood foes. Senator McCain's passing leaves a void in the American discourse and by extension all Western political discourse. The unifying voices are falling to silence or death.

In our Gospel on Sunday [John 6:56-69] we encountered a fracturing of the Jesus movement in response to the difficulty of His teaching. We saw that the element that maintained unity among the Twelve was their ability to look past the issue at hand and look instead toward the One who sits at the center. 

As we see our society galvanize around us it is crucial to tune our ears towards the voices that draw us together, to hold those things up, and to point to the presence of God within them. Senator McCain, as flawed as any other child of God, seemed to have truly tried to be such a voice. 

Rest eternal grant unto him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him. 

What is Truth?

By the Rev. Ken McClure

There is a degree to which opening up oneself to the goings-on of the world feels like inviting in an existential crisis! 

This is especially true as we watch our neighbors to the south fall victim to an organized state-sanctioned assault on the very notion of Truth. This past weekend one of the Gilded King of America's most trusted emissaries and attorneys, Rudy Giuliani, uttered a defence of his Capo that should have sent a shudder through the spine of any person with even a marginal commitment to Truth.

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"Truth isn't truth," he said in an attempt to pre-emptively justify his Capo's compulsion for lying and the likelihood that he would do so under oath. He later walked his statement back, claiming it wasn't a "pontification on moral theology" but any person who has heard or read John's Gospel can recognize Pilate's question "what is Truth?" in Giuliani's sentiment. 

The Roman Procurator asks the question when confronted with Truth incarnate in the person of Jesus. Pilate's commitment and devotion to the Roman state and its imperial ethic blind him, obscuring Truth even as it stands before him. The thing about Pilate in this moment though, is he is ignorant, not malicious. We must not confuse the calculated systematic erosion of Truth in our own time with the ignorance of the man who would try so desperately to wash his own hands of Jesus' blood. Donald Trump and his messengers are agents of deception. They are intentionally dismantling the concept of objective truth so that it cannot bind them, and while I am ever cautious in the use of overly hyperbolic language when drawing theological conclusions about current events, intentional agents of deception are by extension agents of the Deceiver.

Just to be clear, I am not saying that the current president is the Devil incarnate (I have no idea if he has a numerical affinity for six hundred and sixty six) but I can say with absolute certainty that in my lifetime (a lifetime wherein the United States has been the de-facto world empire) there has never been an American president (the Caesars of our time) who has been so entirely antithetical to the Gospel and Person of Jesus Christ as this one. Let those with ears listen, let those with eyes see. 

The storm clouds are gathering, and as they do followers of the Word will be called on to carry Truth like a lantern in through the night, as a sign for the faithless. When we do this we follow in the example of our Lord, who during his life confronted every deception He encountered with the simple power of His Truth. The days are darkening friends, but it's in the dark that the light of Christ shines brightest. 

Be that light.

What should it profit a man if he should gain beer for a buck but lose his soul?

By the Rev. Ken McClure

This past week our provincial government introduced a bill into legislation intended to provide the good people of Ontario with beer for a buck.  

So far with this government, we have lost the basic income program pilot—a program which has proven to improve the quality of life of those who need it most, yielding the accompanying societal benefits of more people living well. We lost that, but we have beer for a buck.

There has been a noticeable erosion in this government’s commitment to democratic principles, with assaults on local and regional governments and elections in an effort to chip away at the value of our vote, and therefore the impact of our voice. All of this has happened without public consultation, but we have beer for a buck. 

We are experiencing more severe forms of weather at an increasing rate, something which is directly attributable to the human impact on our environment, and yet our government has repealed cap and trade on emissions. [The cap-and-trade system aimed to lower greenhouse gas emissions by putting caps on the amount of pollution companies in certain industries can emit—Ed.] At a time when we need to be doing more our government is trying to do less, but we have beer for a buck.

Now don't get me wrong, I have no moral objection to this because it's beer. I myself have been known to pop the top off of a nice cool one on a hot night, but I've read enough about the Romans to know when bread and circuses are being dangled to distract the masses. Remember, there was a period when we Christians were the fuel for the circuses:  we were thrown to the beasts and brutes of the arena! As was then is now, and Caesars will do what Caesars do.  

Thankfully there's little risk that I’m going to be tossed to the lions for thinking, acting, and speaking (or writing in this case) like a Christian. As the people of God we are the stewards of creation, and the keepers of each other. We are formed by God, called by Christ, and empowered by the Spirit to perform these tasks. As much as I may enjoy some tasty suds after a hard day's work, I don't want to get them cheaper as a bribe to ignore what's being done in my name.

And so for every case of beer I buy I intend to donate any money our government has laboriously saved me to the 4Cs here in town ($10 for Every 24, $5 for Every 12, $2.50 for a 6 pack). I encourage anyone else reading this to find an organization that supports people or the planet, and do the same.

Our government may ignore the sacred moral obligation we all have to care for the earth and each other, but we shouldn't—no matter how hard they try to distract us.

A clarion call for Christian unity: Sizzlin’ Summer Service 11

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Heavenly Highlands area churches gathered Sunday for the far more-sizzling-than-usual service in Head Lake Park. With the humidex making temps feel near 40, the park still overflowed with cheerful local Christians fellowshipping, listening raptly, singing joyfully, praying… and yes, sweating … together.

 Dana McMahon presents kids with a capsulized gospel … full of questions and most interesting answers

Dana McMahon presents kids with a capsulized gospel … full of questions and most interesting answers

Paul Graham of Lakeside Church greeted the crowd and opened in prayer, and soon entertaining Harry Morgan of the United Church had everyone laughing and singing along with accompanying musicians from various churches.

Bev Hicks of Northland Faith Church read the scripture for the day, Mark 9:33-41.

 The McClure family enjoying the pre-sermon sizzle

The McClure family enjoying the pre-sermon sizzle

Ken McClure, brand-new priest of St. George’s and St. Margaret’s, got to deliver his very first sermon ‘up here’ in what he called, “the beautiful tapestry all around.”  He, his wife Becca and their young son Jack have only been in Haliburton for a week or so but cannot get over the marvels of nature around them. An astonishing tapestry, he said, “which you people here have all seen since Moses was in hot pants.” With that, he had the crowd.

He said he felt privileged to be able to address the topic of unity in such a setting.

“Look around you!” He encouraged all to stand and take a 360-degree gaze around them at both the scenery and the Christians of various stripes. “This is it!”

He wove aspects of the day’s readings into his talk. Jesus words reminding us that ‘to be greatest you must be least,’ and ‘if you love me you must love each other,’ underline the absolute necessity of unity.

Drawing on the words of Jesus in Mark 9: 38-39, Ken reminded listeners of the importance of recognizing the works others do for Jesus and in His name, without focussing on whether they do it your or your group’s way.

We are the Body of Christ, made up of diverse parts being true to themselves, but acting in conjunction … in unity … with others. We need to recognize differences and different approaches as part of unity in diversity 

 Staying hydrated

Staying hydrated

Raising his right hand, he held out his thumb and mentioned how our thumb helps us get a grip on things. He then raised and pointed with his index finger, demonstrating its ability to do just that.

“Then, we have our ring finger. It allows us to express our emotions, express our love. We have our middle finger which expresses a rather different kind of emotion. Don’t use that one,” he advised to a chorus of chuckles.

 Christopher Greaves, former St. George's and St. Margaret's rector, makes his usual and most welcome guest appearance

Christopher Greaves, former St. George's and St. Margaret's rector, makes his usual and most welcome guest appearance

“Each of them has their own goal, their own purpose, their own ideas, their own ambitions and if they all acted independently they'd just be like this all the time.” He demonstrated by flailing his hand about. “They’d be like a flapper, a flipper for the water I suppose. They wouldn’t get anything done, would they? It’s when they’re working together that the fullness of my created potential comes to be.”

Clearly, the work we do together is an acknowledgment of the Body.  As the Body of Christ, WE embody the Kingdom

“We are one in the ONE!” he concluded to applause.

Sandy Stevens of the Lighthouse Church prayed powerfully over many aspects of life in the community as the service wound down for another year.

A Christian leader's call for social justice

An Open Letter to Laurie Scott
Member of Ontario Provincial Parliament
Minister of Labour

Dear Laurie:

We last met at St George’s, Haliburton. I officiated at a funeral that you attended, and we spoke briefly after the service. Thank you for coming to support the family at that time.

I write to you today because I am becoming more distressed at each announcement from your government. Last night I read that you are abandoning the basic income pilot project. During the election campaign you promised to keep that project. You must know that it has been tried before in Canada, in Dauphin, Manitoba, and currently elsewhere in the world. Some of the benefits from the Dauphin experiment were a drop of 8.5% in hospital visits, an increase in high school graduations, and an increase in time mothers were able to spend with their babies. Those are all benefits dear to the Conservative agenda.

You are also reducing the increase in welfare payments to 1.5%, a reduction from the 3% that welfare recipients had been promised. Since the most recent cost of living figures indicate an increase of 2.5%, this is effectively a decrease in income for the poorest in our society of 1%.

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Both of these changes that you are bringing into force will help to reduce the taxes on the wealthiest people in our society, at the cost of food and housing for the poorest. I am disturbed that our provincial government is willing to call upon the poorest to sacrifice for the richest.

I said above that I am becoming more distressed at each announcement. This is not simply because each announcement dismantles another part of our society. It is also because it indicates a frightening trend.  It brings back painful memories of when Mike Harris closed 28 hospitals and fired 6,000 nurses. I saw firsthand in my parish some of the other pain his health care system changes affected. His government brought in a means test for patients on oxygen. What he didn’t realize was that patients with lung conditions would meet the requirements for oxygen, since the removal of oxygen immediately caused stress, whereas heart patients would not meet the threshold of the test because the effects of reduced oxygen on heart patients is cumulative, taking days to produce enough stress to endanger a patient. I buried some of the people who did not meet Mike Harris’s requirements.

So, it does get personal for me when I see our government removing programs and social supports without taking the time to think and plan. Why remove what is working before you have even a hint of what might replace it?

It is the action without thought that scares me the most. We have watched tragedy after tragedy unfold in the United States under Donald Trump, and (Ontario Premier) Doug Ford seems to be heading in the same direction. 
Please, Laurie, take a stand to protect the most vulnerable in our province, and do your best to reign in Doug Ford’s plan of demolition.

Faithfully yours,

The Rev. Canon Dr. David G. Barker
West Guilford, Ontario

Letter of introduction from the Rev. Ken McClure

To the congregations of St. George's and St. Margaret's and all the people of the parish of Haliburton: peace and love in Jesus Christ!

By the good grace of our Lord, our bishop, and the wardens of the parish I will have the pleasure of being your new priest! My family—my wife Becca, my son Jack and I—look forward to meeting each and every one of you, and while there will be time to flush out more about who we are as a family, I’d like to let you know a little bit about who I am.

I am a graduate of the George Brown Theatre School and spent almost ten years as a professional stage actor, performing in (mostly) musicals across the country. Upon leaving the world of performing, I spent a year teaching English in Guangzhou, China before returning home and pursuing an honors degree in Classical Studies from York University. Most recently, I completed my Masters of Divinity from Trinity College, University of Toronto.

I do a fair bit of writing for pleasure and have an ever-expanding selection of rosaries and chaplets I have beaded over the years. I'm an avid reader, particularly of 1st century Roman literature, works on American history (particularly material concerning the founders, and the Watergate era), and comic books. I'm a movie buff (particularly superhero and horror films), and love the nerdiest of TV (Star Trek, particularly DS9, and anything by either Joss Whedon or Aaron Sorkin). I enjoy fishing, swimming, and camping, and the only sport I follow is politics.

Most importantly, I come to you as a deep lover of scripture, music, and stories, and can't wait to share each of these things with you: to live the scripture with you, to make music together, and to share stories while creating new ones. 

I can't wait to walk with you, listening for where the prophetic call of the Spirit is crying out in our community, leading us to pursue justice and provide comfort and relief. 

I can't wait to gather together as one, to share in the body and blood of our Lord. Please know that until we meet in August you are all in my prayers, along with the prayers of thanksgiving I offer for this tremendous honor and privilege.

May the Peace of Christ be with you all!
Ken+

How can we pray for healing?

Is there a pattern to prayer that works? Is there a way that we can be sure God will answer? What if we pray and our prayers are not answered? How do we find faith? How can we believe?

In a sermon both brilliant and comforting,  David Barker reflects on Mark 5: 21-43 where Jesus heals a woman in the crowd who touched the hem of his garment, and later the daughter of Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue. 

Including stories of those praying in our own time—and the mysterious answers or seeming non-answers—David wrestles with some of our most difficult questions about prayer and faith.

Atheists are right: Christianity sounds absurd

By Darren Wilson*

Think about it. Christians believe in a man who lived more than 2,000 years ago in a series of backwater towns in the Middle East, was killed by some religious zealots, magically rose from the dead three days later, after which he floated up into the sky and disappeared, thus becoming the invisible man we now believe in and pin all our hopes on. On top of that, we believe in other unseen beings—angels and demons—who are all around, helping or hindering. Meanwhile, another invisible spirit (the Holy Spirit) is constantly at work behind the scenes around the earth, keeping the whole thing straight and intervening whenever possible.

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When put that way, even I think it sounds crazy. I consider myself a fairly intelligent person. I’m a former university professor, an author of two books, and I’ve become something of a spokesperson not just for the existence of God through my films but for the idea that this invisible God is alive and well and doing amazing things in our world today. How then can I, as a rational, intelligent human being, actually believe in an invisible man and spirits?

I ask this question because it seems that lately a good number of people have been coming out and saying that no, they don’t believe this nonsense anymore. Former Christians seem to be taking a long hard look at what they once believed, and are finding the courage to step forward and voice their opinion: that they think it’s all nuts. I have a feeling they aren’t alone in their struggles with belief, and the reasons for this crisis of faith are surely varied and compelling. But like everyone, at the end of the day I am only truly responsible for myself, and I wanted to step forward and try to explain why I will continue to believe in an invisible God-man, no matter what.

For a good portion of my life, I lived a kind of Christianity that I have a sneaking suspicion most people do as well. It was built around a set of pre-informed beliefs and its orbit was made up almost exclusively with well-meaning principles—all of which were gleaned from the Bible and were designed to both make my life better and make me into a relatively nice person. Jesus was the centerpiece, of course, but He was more of a benevolent, distant brother figure. God was relatively silent on most things—and always loomed large in my ‘Be good or else!’ mentality. The Holy Spirit was like smoke, a guiding force if you will, but one that was totally unknowable.

This was Christianity, for sure, but it was a neutered one. I simply had to believe the right things, be a good person, and not do too much bad stuff. If I did make mistakes, I had to make sure I said I was sorry, otherwise a kind of logjam of sin would start to build up, which was not good.

When your life revolves around trying to ‘be good,’ there comes a point when it all just feels fake and forced. I mean, if Jesus is real, shouldn’t my life be different? Shouldn’t I have this peace He kept talking about inside me? Should I really have to try this hard to change my behavior? And after a while, when principles are all that generally guide you, it just becomes too much and you wind up doing the Christian thing simply because you think you should and because that’s what you’ve always done.

 Darren Wilson on location in Jerusalem

Darren Wilson on location in Jerusalem

But then something happened, and this is where everything changed for me. I experienced God. I am a rational person and not prone to manic episodes, hallucinations, or strange behavior. I’ve never done drugs a day in my life. I don’t ‘feel’ things spiritually, have never been ‘slain in the spirit,’ and I’ve never even spoken in tongues. But while making these films of mine, I experienced the reality and presence of God. I felt Him inside me and around me. My behavior changed, I felt peace for the first time, and my Christian walk was no longer about following principles, but about following a Person. And yes, that Person was invisible.

How do you explain experiencing God to someone who has never experienced Him themselves? It’s a lot like trying to explain love to someone who has never been in love. They can be surrounded by people in love, can see how strange it makes people behave, can understand the concept of love. They can even see the dangers of falling in love with that person over this person, but unless you’ve actually fallen in love with someone, you’ll never be able to understand the feeling it gives you or the certainty that you are, in fact, in love, and that it is very, very real.

So it is no surprise to me that, for example, a pastor who decides to ‘take a year off from God’ comes out the other side as an atheist. Honestly, it would be impossible for me to take even a week off from God, because I have experienced Him firsthand. I know He’s there, I can’t ignore Him. No one who actually experiences God will ever deny His existence. For instance, for my new film, Holy Ghost Reborn, I filmed a ministry in Colorado that provides prayer and teaching almost exclusively to military personnel. Most of the participants go into this 3 day intensive as either atheists or nominal believers at best. All of them—a full 100%—come out of these 3 days believing in Jesus. Why? Because they just experienced Him for themselves. And you can’t deny something that you have actually experienced. My guess is that the vast majority of people who have turned their hearts from God never actually experienced Him in the first place. They may have heard and believed, but the reality of His presence never took root because believing something logically is not the same as experiencing it relationally.

Yes, believing in someone who is invisible seems, on the surface, a little crazy. But just as Billy Graham once pointed out, we believe in the wind not because we can see it, but because we can see the effects of it. We can feel it on our faces, see it whipping through tree branches. I believe in an invisible God not because I can see Him, but because I can see the effect of Him on my life, and on countless lives around the world. I can feel Him inside me, around me, even working through me.

I’m not sure people leaving the faith is an assault on Christianity as much as it is simply showing the danger of building faith on principles instead of relationship. As good and as important as principles are, nothing will ever compare to the vibrant, healthy, Biblical relationship that we were all created for with a God who is more real and more alive than many of us realize.

________________________
*Darren Wilson is the Founder and CEO of WP Films, a media company with the mission to ask questions about God that no one else will. He has traveled the world since 2006 creating various feature-length documentaries, including Finger of God, Furious Love, Father of Lights, Holy Ghost and Holy Ghost Reborn. He has also written several books, including Filming God and Finding God in the Bible. The company now also has an online channel called WP TV.

Journey with Jesus begins as Middle Eastern women visit London

Perhaps you’ve heard of the highly effective Jesus Film, first released in 1979. Those behind the project explain they have always and ever been about one thing: everyone seeing Jesus. Teams visit areas all over the world, sharing the ‘greatest story ever told’ in more than 1,400 languages. They report that more than 490 million people have come to Jesus after watching their films.

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A project team member recently shared a wonderful story that began on a recent Jesus Film mission trip to London. 

While walking through a beautiful rose garden in Hyde Park, this fellow and his team talked and prayed about whom they should approach. Who was waiting to hear the good news?

As they prepared to sit down on the grass, a group of young Middle Eastern women not far away suddenly motioned to them to come and share their park bench. As if that weren’t surprising enough, it turned out the women were visiting from the very country the team had just been talking about ... a country the team ‘reporter’ had never ever met anyone from in England.

God was so clearly guiding and working through all of them. You can read the whole story here … a story which continues months later when the team member visits the Middle Eastern country and re-encounters one of the young woman. God's ways never cease to amaze!

A miracle meeting with Middle-Eastern Muslim women in London — The Jesus Film Project

Anglican Alliance launches Freedom Year, a global focus on anti-slavery initiatives

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The Anglican Alliance, which helps coordinate Anglican churches and agencies to work for a world free of poverty and injustice, has launched Freedom Year, a year-long focus on anti-slavery initiatives.

“Human trafficking is a grave crime against humanity,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby reminds us.It is a form of modern-day slavery and a profound violation of the intrinsic dignity of human beings. This outrage should concern each one of us, because what affects one part of humanity affects us all.

“If we are to combat this evil then we must work together to prevent the crime, support the survivors and prosecute the criminals. The knowledge that churches have of their local communities puts them on the frontline in this campaign.”

It happens abroad we know, and even in many communities close to home. We must pray for change, learn more about human trafficking and modern slavery in the world today, and take action to end it.

A Freedom Year booklet, available here, contains monthly themes and activities to “help us to take action, and encourage us join the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery, both locally and globally,” the Alliance says.

Welcome to Father David Barker

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Please join us in welcoming interim priest-in-charge the Reverend Canon Dr. David Barker.  He has already been a cherished member of St. George’s for a number of years, serving in the choir and often ‘doing services’ when former priest-in-charge Anne was away.

Fr. David was ordained in 1970 and has served as Assistant Curate at St. Wilfrid’s, Islington (1975); Incumbent in the Parish of Minden (1977); the Parish of Washago (1980); St. Mark’s, Midland (1985); St. Timothy’s, North Toronto (1998); and St. Simon-the-Apostle, Toronto (2007). In 2012 he, with his wife Shirley, retired to West Guilford. He served as interim priest-in-charge of the Parish of Bobcaygeon, Dunsford and Burnt River in 2016 and 2017.

David graduated from the University of Toronto in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts, and in 1975 from Trinity College with a Master of Divinity. In 1995 Seabury-Western Theological Seminary awarded him a Doctor of Ministry (in Preaching) and in 2003 Archbishop Terence Finlay appointed him Canon of St. James’ Cathedral.

We have started a page where you can link to his sermons on YouTube, with his first and second talks already up!

Anne Moore’s final service in the parish packed with people, God stories, wonder, laughter and tears

Sunday proved a heart- and spirit-warming service for the church full of people from St. George’s and St. Margaret’s (and visitors from elsewhere) for Pastor Anne’s final service in the parish.

Anne recounted her own Christian history—from her christening as a child through her conversion as a young woman, her call to ordained ministry while both studying and serving in the Canadian Armed Forces reserves, and on into the fulfilment and wonder she has found helping others grow closer to God. As, she says, she has grown throughout her time of serving God and others.

“It has been a privilege to be with people in both the best and worst of times,” she explained, with tears in her eyes. She then launched into what she believes are the five basic directions in our human journeys. 

The first is inward … as we receive God’s love, His word, and meditate on scripture. 

The second is a reaching outward, as we do our best to share, serve, love and help correct the wrongs in the world around us.

The third direction in our journey is upward. We gather together to gaze upward and praise God, pray, worship and study. As a fourth direction, we look toward God’s people down here on earth: we do what He enables and calls us to do to build communities of loving believers.

Finally, there is the onward journey. Each of us will go forward and onward in different directions, as God leads and directs.

“Since this is my last time to share some good news,” she announced, “I will.” She then quoted both Old and New Testament scriptures on the necessity of using our own voices, inner or outer, to call on the Lord for salvation.

“And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved,” we read in Joel 2:32. Then, in the New Testament we have one of the most famous verses on evangelism in scripture. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 9-10).

Anne then urged all those who had never made a full commitment to Jesus to do so. It basically comes down to ‘sorry, please and thank-you’, she said. She then led those who wanted to share in resurrection life to follow her in prayer with: “I’m sorry for the life I have lived, the sins I have committed. Please, Jesus, come into my heart and life. Thank you!” 

Before communion, several in the congregation shared their own ‘God Sightings’ from the week—an important part of most services. The initiative encourages people to pay more attention to the movements of God in their daily lives, note when they feel His Presence or see Him working, write it down, and then share it with the church family. Testimonies contain tremendous power to encourage and bless others. Eyes of faith can often reveal what is beneath and beyond the reality that we see.

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Several stood to tell of God working in the lives of their families and friends. Organist and choir director Bill Gliddon shared a wonderful story of what happened a few nights before Christmas when he had been working late in his ‘upper room’ in the church.

He heard the church door bell ring, and went down to find the father of the Syrian refugee family living next door, standing there with a plate of warm Syrian delicacies. The Muslim man had noticed a light in the choir room above, knew Bill must be there late, and came to offer some sustenance. (You can read an informative story from the Haliburton Echo about the family here: Welcoming the Wisos: How a small committee brought a community together).

Please pray for the Wiso family as they continue to settle into their new lives in Canada.

Please also pray for Anne as she moves forward and onward, for David Barker, interim priest-in-charge, and for the process of finding a new priest.

Advent Letter

by Anne Moore

Dear Friends,

How time flies! Is it really Advent, the season of waiting and preparing for Christmas, already? There is so much to do at this time of year: decorating and baking (well, not me actually!), visiting and feasting, choosing just the right gifts and wondering what gifts might be received.

In the midst of this flurry of activity, and, generally, numerous flurries of snow(!),  simple questions might pop into our heads: ‘Is this what it’s all about?’ or, ‘Is there something more?’ or even, ‘Have I gotten something wrong here?’ Perhaps, after the food is eaten and the gifts unwrapped, you ask yourself, ‘Is there a gift out there somewhere that would really satisfy me?’ If we are honest with ourselves, that is what we want in life—something that can meet our needs, help us with our problems and decisions, bring comfort, happiness, peace.

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The good news is that there is such a gift. It is custom-made just for you and is given by someone who knows exactly what you need right now. It gives you more than anything money can buy. And it comes from someone special, who knows you and loves you deeply, and who wants only the best for you.

Does that sound like a great gift? Does it sound too good to be true?  I assure you that it is true because I received that gift 39 years ago. God, who created each one of us, who loves each one of us individually, perfectly, and without any conditions attached, sent His only Son, Jesus, to live as an ordinary human being on earth. We celebrate His birth at Christmas.

‘So what?’ some may ask. In the Bible there are four different writers’ interpretations about Jesus’ life. We call those stories the gospels, which translates to, 'good news.’ Matthew and Luke probably heard the stories second-hand; Mark and John told their own stories. They all wrote about what Jesus said and did, what He was like, and how He died. That’s all fairly normal for a biography. What is not normal is they went on to tell how He was alive after He died! The event which Christians call the resurrection changed the world, the course of history, and can also change us if we accept the gift He offers.

Jesus is God’s gift to us. As the Son of God, He can give us freedom from our fears and worries, forgiveness of our past, healing of our bodies, minds, and relationships, and the assurance of God’s unconditional love for us. We can be free, safe, and fully alive like never before. We don’t need to do anything special to receive this Gift from God; we don’t have to be good (God isn’t like Santa); we simply have to accept this Gift. Unwrapping it involves learning about Jesus and learning how to follow Him. We call that ‘church,’ which is hanging out with a bunch of people who are also in various stages of their learning.

As we learn to trust Jesus we will come to the point where we want to give Him a gift—that gift is our lives as obedient followers.

I pray for each of you as you begin, and continue, following our Saviour whose birth we are about to celebrate.

The Resume of Jesus Christ

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Address: Ephesians 1:20
Phone: Romans 10:13
Website: The Bible; Keywords: Christ, Lord, Savior, Redeemer, God-Man, Jesus, son of David

Hello. My name is Jesus Christ. Many call me Lord! I've sent you my resume because I'm seeking the top management position in your heart.  Please consider my accomplishments as set forth below. 

Qualifications 
†  I founded the earth and established the heavens (see Proverbs 3:19).
  I formed man from the dust of the ground (see Genesis 2:7).
  I breathed into man the breath of life (see Genesis 2:7). 
  I redeemed man from the curse of the law (see Galatians 3:13). 
  The blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant come upon your life through me (see Galatians 3:14).

Occupational Background 
  I've only had one employer (see Luke 2:49).     
   I've never been tardy, absent, disobedient, slothful or disrespectful.
  My employer has nothing but rave reviews for me (see Matthew 3:15-17). 

Skills and Work Experience
  Some of my skills and work experience include: empowering the poor to be poor no more, healing the brokenhearted, setting captives free, healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, and setting at liberty the oppressed (see Luke 4:18).
  I am a wonderful counsellor (see Isaiah 9:6). People who listen to me will live in safety and security and will not fear evil (see Proverbs 1:33). 
  Most importantly, I have the authority, ability and power to cleanse you of your sins (see 1 John 1:7-9). 

Educational Background 
  I encompass the entire breadth and length of knowledge, wisdom and understanding (see Proverbs 2:6). 
   In me are hidden all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (see Colossians 2:3). Hidden … yet accessible to the heart which welcomes me in.
  My Word is so powerful; it has been described as being a lamp to your feet and a light to your path (see Psalm 119:105).
  I can even tell you all of the secrets of your heart (see Psalm 44:21). 

Major Accomplishments 
  I was an active participant in the greatest Summit Meeting of all time (see Genesis 1:26).
  I laid down my life so that you may live (see 2 Corinthians 5:15). 
  I defeated the archenemy of God and humanity and made a show of them openly (see Colossians 2:15). 
  I've miraculously fed the poor, healed the sick and raised the dead! 
  There are many more major accomplishments, too many to mention here. You can read them on my website, located at: www dot the BIBLE. You don't need an Internet connection or computer to access my website. 

References 
Believers and followers worldwide will testify to my divine healings, salvation, deliverance, miracles, restoration and supernatural guidance.

In Summary
Now that you've read my resume, I'm confident I'm the only candidate uniquely qualified to fill this vital position in your heart. 
To summarize, I will properly direct your paths (see Proverbs 3:5-6), and lead you into everlasting life (see John 6:47).  When can I start? Time is of the essence (see Hebrews 3:15).

_______________________________________
[original creator of this bit of genius unknown, to us at least]

Thanksgiving: great when it’s easy, an awesome antidote when it’s not

By the Rev. Canon Anne Moore
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The writer of Psalm 34 wrote, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.” Billy Graham once wrote, “If I were to list all the things for which I’m thankful, I’d never have time to eat my turkey dinner!”

Can you say the same? Sometimes when I am the leader for a ‘quiet day’, I will hand participants a sheet of foolscap and ask them to write down as many thanksgivings that they can think of. The thoughts often start quite quickly but then begin to slow. Then, after more thought, the list becomes easier and easier and longer and longer. And that is the way it ought to be: what a wonderful world God has given us to share.

If you are feeling blue, give thanks. If you are feeling overwhelmed, give thanks. If you are on top of the world, give thanks. If you can’t sleep, don’t start worrying about your present situation or worrying that you will be tired in the morning. Instead, give thanks.

At all times and in all places, giving thanks is the way to change our mind-set, and then our behavior.

Billy Graham also said, “We live in a confused and chaotic world, and at times we might be tempted to give in to despair. But God loves us, and only Christ can transform our hearts and turn our despair into hope. Is He the foundation of your life? If not, make this a day of true thanksgiving, as you invite Christ to come into your life and save you.”

If you have done that, you will know true joy. You will hardly be able to stop praising God, especially for sending Jesus to save us by His death on a cross. Please don’t expect that your troubles will suddenly leave, but, with God’s Holy Spirit working through you, you will discover that you have clearer direction and an expanded capacity to deal with them.

Giving thanks for all of you.

Salt and Light: Compelling words from the late Rev John Stott

Pastor, preacher, writer and evangelical leader John Stott always aimed in his teaching and writing to bring people back to the concrete reality of Jesus' life and sacrifice. He held hard to the conviction that the central message of the gospel is not the teachings of Jesus, but Jesus himself, the human/divine figure.

The following quote from his book Issues Facing Christians Today perhaps best brings this to Light, with the needed dose of saving salt.

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"Our Christian habit is to bewail the world’s deteriorating standards with an air of rather self-righteous dismay. We criticize its violence, dishonesty, immorality, disregard for human life, and materialistic greed.
‘The world is going down the drain,’ we say with a shrug. But whose fault is it? Who is to blame? Let me put it like this. If the house is dark when nightfall comes, there is no sense in blaming the house; that is what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is, ’Where is the light?’ 
Similarly, if the meat goes bad and becomes inedible, there is no sense in blaming the meat; this is what happens when bacteria are left alone to breed. The question to ask is, ’Where is the salt?’
Just so, if society deteriorates and its standards decline until it becomes like a dark night or a stinking fish, there is no sense in blaming society; that is what happens when fallen men and women are left to themselves, and human selfishness is unchecked.
The question to ask is, ‘Where is the Church? Why are the salt and light of Jesus Christ not permeating and changing our society?"

When he died in 2011, Billy Graham wrote of his dear friend: "The evangelical world has lost one of its greatest spokesmen, and I have lost one of my close personal friends and advisors. I look forward to seeing him again when I go to Heaven."

A principal framer, with Billy Graham, of the landmark Lausanne Covenant, Stott’s more than 40 books have been translated into over 72 languages and sold in the millions.

Hallelujah Haliburton! Sizzling Summer Service 10

 harry morgan preaching

harry morgan preaching

Close to 500 people from the various churches in town gathered on a recent sunny, pleasantly cool Sunday for the 10th annual ecumenical service in Head Lake Park. As glorious as it was to join with brothers and sisters in Christ, all also had no doubt of God’s hand steering the surrounding ominous clouds away till the gathering began to wrap up. A clear weather miracle in this our summer of either deluge or excessive heat!

 St. George's glenda burk does a great job relating to the kids

St. George's glenda burk does a great job relating to the kids

United Church minister Harry Morgan reminded listeners he had given the sermon at the first service 10 years ago, so figured it was high time to do it again. He proceeded to elaborate on his now-famous contention, “We will all be 'United' in heaven,”  by adding we will also all be Baptist (since we’re all baptized), Anglican (since we all speak English), Faith (well yes, we have it), Pentecostal (we all live in the church age, initiated with the Day of Pentecost), and Catholic (in its literal non-churchy meaning of universal, all-embracing).

 the other morgan family (from Lighthouse pentecostal) & friends

the other morgan family (from Lighthouse pentecostal) & friends

Anglican priest Anne Moore read what are likely the strongest scriptures on the topic, from Ephesians and John. 

Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus, urges readers to live “in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4: 1-6).

Jesus reminds us in John 17 of his constant intercession for believers to live in unity with each other, as well as with him and with God:
I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:20- 23).

"How about we call ourselves the Church in Haliburton?" Harry wondered, "sort of like the Church in Ephesus—one common name?"

“The effectiveness of our outreach and evangelism is directly related to our unity,” he emphasized. "Leaders of the churches in Haliburton gather for prayer every two weeks, we all get along and are friends." 

 Musicians from many denominations lead in praise

Musicians from many denominations lead in praise

The next ecumenical gathering for the churches will be a Praise Service on Wednesday, September 27, at the United Church. Watch here for more details.