Parish NEWS

Fr. Ken will be on vacation until August 3.
Wednesday Morning Prayer
on the Haliburton dock will not be held July 24 or 31 during his holidays.

Sizzlin’ Summer Service Time!
Sunday, Aug. 4 at 10:30 at the bandshell in Haliburton.  The usual St. George’s 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. services will be held, with the 9:30 service slightly shortened so people may head down to join the service in the park.

BYOBQ: Bring your own Bible questions
Join Fr. Ken at McKeck’s August 14 at 7:00 p.m. for Bible with beverages! Come out to talk about a Bible question you’ve wondered about but never asked, over food and drink.

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SCRIPTURE STUDIES AT ST. GEORGE'S
Monday and Wednesday Bible Studies resume in September.

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CREATIVE DEVOTION 
Creative Devotion sessions run twice monthly at St. George’s: 2nd Tuesday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 4th Tuesday from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. All welcome to join in the fellowship and creative fun. Consider inviting a friend to come with you!
Please note:  the Tuesday, July 23 meeting has been cancelled.
The group will meet August 13 at 10 a.m. and August 27 at 1 p.m. at the home of Dorothy Thayer.

Dryer balls are handmade of pure wool materials. Their main job is to lessen dryer time and the heat required, so they are good for both your clothes and the environment. The balls have been washed and dried three times and are ready for use in your dryer. They come with instructions and are available from Carol Browne (705-457-4551) or Wendy Bateman (705-457-2704). Three balls for $20.00.

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New in St. George’s Library: Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle
This New York Times bestselling book, recommended by Bishop Riscylla at the recent Town Hall meeting in Minden, describes the work of Jesuit Father Gregory Boyle among gang members in impoverished neighbourhoods in Los Angeles.  The reader will be inspired by this ministry to the disadvantaged, and challenged by Boyle’s concept of neighbourhood and kinship to reconsider our relationship with the poor and the marginalized.

If you are a subscriber to the Anglican Journal, be sure to respond to the ad they have been running and confirm your subscription (you can do so by clicking here).

Scent-free at St. G’s
As many people are highly sensitive to perfumes and fragrances, we ask that you refrain from using perfume/cologne and other scented beauty products within the church.
Thank you for your compassionate understanding, and for helping to make this a place for all to gather and worship in the name of Jesus Christ.

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 Arlene Stiles of St. George’s. Please also 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!

Barnabas: the bridge-building encourager

[inspired by a recent talk by Fr. Ken]

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Barnabas may be the apostle we hear the least about, but without him, the early spread of Christianity would most certainly have been severely curtailed.

Born Joseph of Jewish parents in Cyprus, we’re given the earliest big example of why the apostles nicknamed him Barnabas—an Aramaic expression meaning ‘son of encouragement’ in Acts 4. There we learn that soon after his conversion, he “sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:36-37).  For the likely hand-to-mouth disciples, this would have been a big deal.

Perhaps most significantly, when Christian-killing Saul—after his Damascus road experience—attempted to join up with the disciples in Jerusalem, Barnabas courageously vouched for him. Some early sources say Joseph and Saul, soon to be Barnabas and Paul, had known each other through having been fellow students of the renowned Jewish teacher Gamaliel. Who knows how long the Jerusalem church, understandably suspicious of their former persecutor, would have otherwise taken to accept the man who would become foremost in the early spread of the Gospel (Acts 9:26-31)?

A short time later, when the leaders of the church in Jerusalem became concerned at the news that even Gentiles were accepting Christ as their saviour in the northern city of Antioch, they sent Barnabas to investigate. It seems that since he had gotten it so right with Paul, they trusted his judgement. His visit there being so illustrative of who he was and how important to the growth of the church, it’s worth quoting the whole story from Acts.

When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called ‘Christians’. "
—Acts 11: 23-26

Barnabas then, along with Paul, helped to smooth out Jew/Gentile tensions that arose in the early church and both took part in the Council of Jerusalem, called to specifically address these issues.

Like everyone who works together, whether in ministry or not, disagreements arose. Yet Barnabas seemed to always, with God’s help, manage to turn the situations around.

At one point he and Paul disagree over the propriety of taking Mark along on a missionary journey, stalwart Paul being against it because Mark had abandoned them on a previous trip. Barnabas the bridge-builder preferred to give him another chance. Unbending Paul refused, selecting Silas as his new mission partner.

Humanly speaking the unresolved contention seemed to cause an unfortunate split in the early church. Yet like cells dividing in an organism to build a body, God used that very split to create two missions out of one and accelerate the growth of His church. Barnabas headed out with Mark to Cyprus, and Paul brought in Silas to help with his own missions through Syria and Cilicia. As Ken suggested, we might not even have the Gospel of Mark were it not for the conciliatory efforts of St. Barnabas.

While all are not called out on far-ranging mission trips or to be leaders, surely, in our broken world, we need to answer the call to be encouragers, bridge-builders and peace-promoters.

Being in Christ ... and His being in us

“And now we begin to see what it is that the New Testament is always talking about. It talks about Christians ‘being born again’; it talks about them ‘putting on Christ’; about Christ ‘being formed in us’; about our coming to ‘have the mind of Christ’.

“Put right out of your head the idea that these are only fancy ways of saying that Christians are to read what Christ said and try to carry it out—as a man may read what Plato or Marx said and try to carry it out. They mean something much more than that. They mean that a real Person, Christ, here and now, in that very room where you are saying your prayers, is doing things to you. It is not a question of a good man who died two thousand years ago. It is a living Man, still as much a man as you, and still as much God as He was when He created the world, really coming and interfering with your very self; killing the old natural self in you and replacing it with the kind of self He has. At first, only for moments. Then for longer periods. Finally, if all goes well, turning you permanently into a different sort of thing; into a new little Christ, a being which, in its own small way, has the same kind of life as God; which shares in His power, joy, knowledge and eternity.”

—From Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Fr. Ken's Easter Letter

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ

Peace and love to you all in the Risen Lord!

We have walked together through the wilderness of lent, praying, studying, gathering, each step leading us forward to the climactic struggle of Holy Week, where we live and die with Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. 

As we have died with Christ, so we have risen in Christ and Christ in us!

How is that spiritual reality lived out in our lives? How has Christ arisen in you this Easter? Each year we make this journey, and every time we do, we experience it in a different way; the differences may be small, but they are there! What has been different for you this year? It’s in these differences, in the new insights discerned or the new questions asked, that we hear the call of the risen Christ most clearly echoing in our hearts; what is that voice calling you to do? Who is that voice calling you to be?

The answers to all these questions will be different for every one of us. We each have our own experience in our journey to Easter, and our own encounter with the Risen Christ, and just as Mary ran from the tomb to proclaim to her brother disciples what she had seen and encountered on the first Easter morning, we are called to proclaim what we have seen, and who we have encountered in rising with Christ.

There is a sense to which Easter feels like another new year: the rebirth of Spring takes hold and life abounds. However, it is not a new year that we are living in, but a new life: one that is beyond where we have been and pointing to where we can go.

Let this be the Christ you proclaim as you continue the journey with the Christ from the depths of Calvary to the heights of Ascension, empowered by the Spirit’s flame, and enveloped by the Creator’s Love.

I killed Jesus

‘They’  (that collective, scholarly, holy group of people) say that when you read the Bible you should place yourself in the story,” young American writer Christina Mead explains as an introduction to her article below. 

Deciding to try the exercise while reading through the Easter events in Matthew, she asked  herself throughout:  “Which character am I? What is God trying to teach me?” Her insightful reflection and dramatic conclusions will, we believe, both inspire and give you pause to ponder your own walk with our Lord. 

I killed Jesus
by Christina Mead

I am an apostle, sleeping in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:40). I’m prone to and give in to laziness in the presence of holiness. I don’t put up a fight against the pull of distractions; sometimes I even sleep.

I am Judas. Jesus has every right to call me both 'friend' and 'betrayer' barely thirty seconds apart (Matt. 26:46, 50). My heart is fickle and weak and sometimes my commitment to being Jesus’ friend is blown off on the whim of an emotion.

I am Caiaphas, the high priest. I want Jesus to prove Himself to me (Matt. 26:63). I want signs and wonders to know that I really can trust Him. I want my prayers answered in my way. I want concrete proof over humble faith.

I am Peter. Sometimes I deny Jesus (Matt. 26:72). I deny Him in the face of the homeless when I chose to look away. I deny Him when I am afraid of being judged and condemned by those around me.

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I am in the crowd yelling: “Crucify Him!” (Matt. 27:21-23)  And I say it again and again every time I knowingly choose to sin.

I am Barabbas. I am chained in sin and holed up in the prison of my own pride. And instead of suffering the full punishment for my sins for which I am guilty, Christ takes my place (Matt. 27:26). And I often forget to thank Him.

I am Pilate. I want to give up when life is too challenging (Matt. 27:24). I’m ready to wash my hands of Christianity when being a follower of Jesus means pursuing virtue over mediocrity, a life of prayer over a life of pleasure.

I am Simon of Cyrene (Matt. 27:32). I suffer reluctantly. I will take the cross but I won’t seek it. I’ll only take it if it’s been placed on my shoulders … and I don’t love it.

I am a passer-by. These passers-by mocked Jesus while He was hanging on the cross (Matt. 27:30). How quickly they had forgotten all the good works He had done among their cities and towns. When popular opinion about Jesus changed, they followed suit. How quickly I forget the good He has done for me. In a brief moment of pain, all my gratitude is forgotten and replaced by resentment.

I am one of the Roman soldiers (Matt. 27:35). I killed Jesus. My sins were the reason He was nailed to that cross. It was my fault and I know it.

But sometimes …

I am the centurion. My eyes are opened to who Jesus is in my life (Matt. 27:54). My heart swells with the truth that God became man and died for me. And this knowledge brings me peace and a resignation to amend my life.

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I am one of the women standing by the cross (Matt. 27:55-56). When I’m open to God’s grace, I can be a faithful and constant Christian. In the midst of pain and suffering, I can stay close to the cross. Jesus, my beloved, is my strength and He’s all I need.

I am Joseph of Arimathea (Matt. 27:59). Again, only by God’s grace, I can be selflessly compassionate, putting others’ needs before my own. Moved by God, I will use what He has given me in the service of others. My time, talent, and treasure are all for Him.

I am every character in the story of the passion and death of Christ. And I think that’s the whole point. Why wouldn’t every dimension of the human heart be represented in the greatest story of all time? It only makes sense because the story is timeless. We have to apply it to our lives today because the reality of its events matter today.

This isn’t just a story in some history book. It’s the story of your salvation: how God saw the good and the bad in our humanity and He came anyway. He died anyway.

I killed Jesus. But I am also the reason He rose from the dead.

____________________
You can read Christina Mead’s whole piece here.

When Life burst from darkness: how the Big Bang echoes Easter

“Whatever happened here on an early morning very long ago unleashed from the unlikeliest of sources—a stiff corpse—an explosion of otherworldly power that today is still expanding (like the universe itself) and sweeping up souls in a wake of light.” [Ryan Gregg]

“Whatever happened here on an early morning very long ago unleashed from the unlikeliest of sources—a stiff corpse—an explosion of otherworldly power that today is still expanding (like the universe itself) and sweeping up souls in a wake of light.” [Ryan Gregg]

Did you know that a Belgian Catholic priest first proposed what we now call the Big Bang Theory back in 1927? Most scientists of his day outright rejected Georges Lemaître’s ‘cosmic egg’ proposal. How dare this upstart priest (who in fact was also an astronomer, physicist and mathematician) try to smuggle a biblical view into science!

The Vatican however, as Ryan Gregg writes in Christianity Today, “was so thrilled by Lemaître’s theory and its progressive verification in the scientific community that Lemaître himself had to contact the Vatican to plead that it desist from making scientific proclamations, a domain beyond its magisterium. The Vatican complied, and the attitude of global Christendom toward the Big Bang has been largely ambivalent ever since.”

If Harvard University PhD candidate Gregg keeps up his brilliant thinking and sharing, surely many more skeptical Christians will be converted to this beautiful Creation  story as being ‘merely’ a reflection of  Christ’s work on the Cross of Calvary.

You can read the entire article here: When Life burst from Death.

The wondrously prophetic line of Adam and Eve's third son, Seth

By the Rev. Ken McClure

After the fall of peace and the rise of the empire of Cain, a new hope is kindled when Adam and Eve come together and have a third son, Seth.

Chapter 5 of Genesis offers us an account of the line of Seth that parallels the one offered for his brother, but the development we see in it is not in contributions to civilization as with Seth's descendants, but by the connection to God that they establish and maintain. They do not assume the role of shepherd left vacant by the slaughter of Abel, but are instead marked by moments of interaction with God among their heritage: Seth's line offers us a prophetic line to parallel the ruling line of Cain.  

By the fifth generation, this divine connection is so deep that Enoch is said to have "walked with God" (Gen. 5:22). The traditions that this simple reference inspired in the ancient Jewish creative mind offer numerous treatments of what came to be regarded as Enoch's ascension, and his travels through the heavenly realms.

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While the details of the different treatments vary, depending on the creative ability of the author, the unifying feature of each of the different books attributed to Enoch is the reception of secret knowledge from God. Because of this, Enoch comes to be regarded as the prototype for the prophets generally, and he is specifically associated with Elijah, and even Jesus. While the fancy of these extra-canonical texts is engaging and their speculations captivating, the text of Genesis provides us with a simple statement that encapsulates everything every other text goes to great lengths to say: Enoch walked with God.  

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Enoch marks the height of the relationship between God and the children of Seth, in the same way that the patriarch of the fifth generation of the children of Cain, Lamech, marks the depths of that line's descent into depravity.

The line of Seth is fulfilled in its ninth generation when Noah answers the call of God to shepherd Creation through the storm to come. We see at last the role of prophet joined with the task of shepherd, the work of fallen Abel assumed by Seth, the brother he never knew. 

When we examine the line of Seth, our attention is primarily focused on its two greatest individuals, Enoch and Noah, but each link within the chain should be regarded as bearing the hope of the progenitor—if for no other reason than that the invocation of the name of God among mortals is connected to the foundation of their line (Gen. 4:26).

If we take this to be the case, then what we see in Genesis 5 is the prototype for the way that God will interact with the later Israel. A single family line follows a path of God in the world outside the Garden, and from that line emerges the prophets who will act as divine emissaries to their place and time.

The genealogies in chapters 4 and 5 of Genesis bear resemblance to the Kings lists of the ancient Sumerian cities, where we see seven kings from five cities ruling the land in the period before the flood, an event which is referred to in the lists.

Like the various descendants of Cain and Seth, these kings had exceptionally long reigns—far longer in fact than the longevity described in Genesis (the longest reign listed is 36,000 years). What I find interesting about these lists is the values they emphasize.

The connection to the pre-flood past made by the people of the Sumerian cities is through kingship, the power that unifies them within their cities. Their continuity is found through the line of kings that ruled them, while the biblical continuity is found through a line of prophets. The biblical story may recognize a city-building line of the world, but its focus is on the people/tribe/family who invoked God, who walked with God, who answered the call of God. 

Cain, Abel and the age-old urban-rural conflict

Cain and Abel , 1564. Woodcut, from  Die Gantze Bibel , printed in Germany by Christoph Froschauer. Courtesy of the Digital Image Archive, Pitts Theology Library, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Cain and Abel, 1564. Woodcut, from Die Gantze Bibel, printed in Germany by Christoph Froschauer. Courtesy of the Digital Image Archive, Pitts Theology Library, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

In this post, Fr. Ken takes us on an exploration of the story of Cain and Abel. He reflects on how it resonates with Sumerian mythology the farmer-shepherd dichotomy, and the tension between city and country.

A little refresher course before reading: Cain, the firstborn son of the created Adam and Eve, grew up and became a farmer and his brother Abel, the second-born, became a shepherd. When the brothers made sacrifices of their ‘first fruits’ to God, God favored Abel’s over Cain’s. Cain didn’t take well to this, killed his brother Abel, lied about the murder to God, and as a result was cursed and ‘marked’ for life. His punishment was that of a fugitive and wanderer. He received a mark from God, commonly referred to as the ‘Mark of Cain’, representing God’s promise to protect Cain from being murdered (Gen. 4:1–16).

By the Rev. Ken McClure

The long arch of the biblical narrative takes us through many facets of the relationship between humanity and God, but when we consider where the story begins and where the story ends, we see that the tension of that relationship consistently manifests as a tension between the country and the city.  

In the beginning paradise is a garden; there is no city. The city is born when Cain sets off into the world bearing his mark: he has a son and founds a city in his name. What are we to make of this other than to conclude an association between the city and Sin by virtue of their shared founder, Cain. 

What's fascinating about the story of Cain and Abel is that originates from the city, or more specifically from the Sumerian culture: the culture of the cities Abram inhabited in his father's house before forever forsaking the city for a pastoral life.  

In the Sumerian story, the goddess Inanna is made to choose a husband between the farmer Enkimdu and the shepherd Dumuzi. Now, while our biblical tradition may condition us to expect that Inanna chose Dumuzi, she chose Enkimdu the farmer. Dumuzi the shepherd, in a fit of indignation listed all the ways that he stood as equal to the farmer, mocking Inanna for the vapidity of her choice. This aroused the passion of the goddess and she entered into a passionate romance with the shepherd, forsaking her initial choice. When Enkimdu was spotted by Dumuzi, he approached him aggressively prepared to engage, and once again our biblical conditioning has us assuming that blood was shed but it wasn't. Enkimdu supplicates himself and grants access to his pasturage for Dumuzi's flocks, demonstrating that the foundation of the city was built upon a compact between pastoralists and tillers. 

The biblical narrative assimilates this story, but views it through the realities of cosmopolitan domination. Both shepherd and farmer wish to please God, but the shepherd's offering is preferred, causing the farmer to rise up and kill him. The farmer suppresses his opponent and founds a city built upon his own dynasty. It is a pastoral perspective on the cosmopolitan foundation myth.

We see as the story advances through the line of Cain, that by the fifth generation there are not only the developed features of civilization (music/art, technological advancements) but also a prototype of what could be considered an imperial ethos in the person of Lamech, who gloats about his embrace of violence and connects it to that of his ancestor Cain (Gen. 4.23-24).  

When we view this narrative through our own lens, we must determine what constitutes the city? In the ancient world, cities were states unto themselves. So for our context, the city is the state: both the national reality of our own state, but also the very concept of the state.  

The city/state is the place where human power is centralized, and as we see in the narrative, it unlocks both the creative and destructive potential of the human being. It is not our ability to dominate or innovate that God values, but our ability to care for what God has made, including each other.

We see the mark of Cain on the actions and achievements of his dynasty. In an effort to fill the void left by his exile from the life he knew, Cain builds a wall, the distinguishing mark of the city. Within the confines of this barrier, he invests his energy in creating a sanctuary from the isolation from God he experienced bearing his mark, the mark of Sin, in the world.

While the biblical perspective on the nature and use of the city evolves over the course of the biblical story, leading eventually to the new creation being centered in the perfected city, we must never forget that the perfection of the city only occurs when it is re-founded not by the farmer who bears the mark of Sin, but by The Shepherd who washes it clean. Until he does, the city stands as the place where the path of Cain is trod most freely.