17 June 2018

Indigenous Sunday 2018

Sermon by Canon H. Stuart Pike
This is a dialogue sermon with several voices. Because you may not be able to hear all the voices, I include the text of the sermon below.

Artist: Cecil Youngfox Photo Credit:Antefixus 21 on Flickr.com

National Indigenous Day of Prayer

St. Luke’s, Burlington
Sunday, 17st June 2018
Isaiah 40:25-31
Philippians 4: 4-9
John 1: 1-18

Cat = Terry
Dog = Holly
Stuart = Stuart!

Terry and Holly go to the Lecterns (You’ll have to share the Mic.) Stuart goes to the Pulpit.

Stuart  Today is a very special day. Not only is it Sunday, which is always a feast day in the Church. It is also Father's day and so we wish all of the Fathers here a happy day. But it is a special day for another reason. Can anyone tell me what that reason is?..... It is actually the National aboriginal day of prayer. More than 45 years ago, in 1971 the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, responding to the Indian Ecumenical Council, declared June 21st a National Indian day of prayer. In the intervening years the civil authorities declared the same date to be National Aboriginal Day.

            Why do we need such a special day? What is it for? One of the things that we can do on this day is to learn a little more about the Aboriginal people of this land, to celebrate their contribution to Canadian society and to our Church, and to think about how our relationship will proceed in the future.

            What has our relationship been like in the past? And how is it now? When the good Christian missionaries of our Church arrived in Canada hundreds of years ago, they thought that the best thing they could do was to bring the people who were in this land to Christ. That is the message of the Good News: that Christ is for the salvation of everyone. But they also thought that in order to do that, the Native people would have to adopt the culture of the missionaries. Some good things happened as a result of those missionaries, but also, some pretty awful things happened over the 300 years of history, which the Aboriginal people have had with the Anglican Church.

Cat:     Take that you big brute. Hiiiiiiiya! (thumping sound)

Stuart:What is going on!

Cat:     And that. (smashing glass or similar)

Dog:    Ouch! You meany, I'm going to get you back for that.

Stuart:What a racket! I don't know what's going on. Those two seem to be fighting! Oh, right, it's them! That's cat and dog. They always seem to fight like cats and dogs! Which makes sense, but they never seem to stop fighting long enough for me to ask them what they’re fighting about!

Dog:    You hurt my tail!

Cat:     You call that a tail!

Stuart:Now you stop it you two! Stop it, stop it, STOP IT!

Cat:     Why? Dog started it.

Dog:    No! Cat started it.

Stuart:Well, it doesn't really matter who started it, why are you fighting right now?

Cat:     Well, we've always fought. Dog is just so different from the way we cats are. Dogs are just so clumsy and big. They're so untidy.

Dog:    I'm not the one who's different. We dogs are a very cheerful type. It's cat that's different. All cats are just so stuck up.

Cat:     Dogs don't even speak the way we do. They wag their tails when they are happy. Everyone knows that you're supposed to swish your tail around when you're angry! They should learn our language because cat language is better.

Dog:    Dog language is all that I grew up with. Is learning cat language supposed to make me better?

Cat:     Well, yes, of course!

Stuart:I guess they just don't like each other very much. Maybe it's impossible for them to get along.

Cat:     It's not that we don't like dogs. It's just that we want them to be like us. You know, dogs have funny little rituals that are very different from our ways. Do you know that I have seen dog circle around six times on her mat before lying down to go to sleep. Now what kind of a weird religious ritual is that? Also, they seem to have this connection to the earth. Haven't you ever heard a dog howl at the moon? It's enough to make your blood run cold!

Dog:    Those are important things that we do to remind ourselves that we are connected to God's creation.

Cat:     Well I think you should worship God the way we do. I think dogs should learn how to purr!

Dog:    Purr?

Cat:     Yes, and you should learn all of our purification rituals. We spend hours each day washing our paws and our faces and fluffing up our fur so that we are worthy to worship God.

Dog:    Fluffy fur! But we like to apply earth to our fur so that we always realize how connected we are to creation, and how connected all things are to each other.

Cat:     It sounds to me that we really are very different from each other, and maybe we should just organize a very big fight which everyone could watch and then, whoever wins that fight can rule over the others and…

Stuart:Now wait a minute! That's not going to solve anything. That's not the way to settle disputes. I think you're right that cats and dogs are very different, but that doesn't mean that one of you has all the truth and the other's ways are useless. It sounds to me that each of you has a lot to teach the other, if the other would listen.

Cat:     But I want to teach Dog the right way! It is for her own good!

Dog:    But you are missing so much of beauty in the world. It's as if you don't see it. I can't let that go!

Stuart:This sounds like some of the trouble between the Indigenous peoples and the settlers. Many of the people of the Settlers have a deep suspicion about the ways of the Indigenous people. Yet there is a connection to the earth, which many of the Indigenous people have, that could really help us to understand God's creation better. Think of the first lesson From Isaiah which recounts the greatness of God. God is the creator of all things, from all the stars of heaven, to the earth, our home, to each one of us with our myriad of gifts and differences. What a powerful God, who created all things, but still has the heart and compassion to give power to the faint and strengthen the powerless. 

And God created all nations and has spoken to all cultures.
And you know there are many times when the people of the Settlers of this land don't even recognize that God is speaking to us. And some of those times, the Indigenous people are better in tune to recognize that God is here. Both Indigenous and Settlers have good things to teach and to share. That doesn't mean we have to change each other into who we are. That's not part of God's will for us. Tell me, Cat. Who made you a cat?

Cat:     Well, God, the great creator did, of course!

Stuart:And Dog, who made you a dog?

Dog:    The same, God the great creator did.

Stuart:Well, Cat, it seems that you not only want to teach Dog your ways, you also seem to want her to change into a cat!

Cat:     Well, I always thought that Dog would be much happier as a cat! And I guess, I've always really been sort of afraid of Dog and her strange ways!

Stuart:Fear is a creature of the darkness. Fear happens when we don’t know each other and don’t appreciate each other’s ways. Fear happens in obscurity, but in the Gospel lesson, John speaks about Christ’s coming as a light shining in the darkness. John says that all things came into being through Christ, yet, when Christ appeared his own people did accept him. Yet for everyone who did accept him, they were adopted to be brothers and sisters of Christ, and children of God. This is the promise of God, and the great news of the Gospel to all people. All people were created by God, and God’s kingdom is open to all. When we recognize this, we can understand that the grace of God flows through many people and races and cultures. And we can celebrate the different ways that God’s grace and love can be made known in the other.

Cat:     I guess fear of different things can be a stumbling block to finding God in new ways.

Stuart:That's right. Cat, you don't have to remake Dog in your own image. But both of you have much to teach each other and you can both learn more about God that way.

            This is one of the reasons that St. Luke’s Church has an Indigenous Awareness Committee which has brought in speakers and hosted events with Indigenous leaders and hosted book studies.

We can still keep our own identity and our own culture and yet be together to share each other's wisdom. Cat and Dog, instead of just fighting each other because you’ve just always fought, why not try to learn from each other and respect each other. We are all God’s children.

Cat and Dog:   O.k., it sounds like it might even be fun.

Everyone says good bye to each other

10 June 2018

Proper 10 B 2018

Sermon by the Rev. Holly Klemmensen
Photo Credit: Stuart Pike on Flickr.com

03 June 2018

2 Pentecost 2018

Sermon for the Second Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 9 B) By Canon H. Stuart Pike
Photo Credit: Fr. Lawrence Lew O.P on Flickr.com

27 May 2018

Trinity Sunday B 2018

Sermon written by the Rev. Holly Klemmensen
Preached by the Rev. Sheila Plant
Photo Credit: SSJE on Flicker.com

20 May 2018

Pentecost Sunday 2018

Sermon by Canon H. Stuart Pike
Photo Credit: Waiting for the Word on Flickr.com

There is nothing quite like the inspiration of getting up early and watching a Royal Wedding. Especially when the wedding was held on a gloriously sunny Mid-May day in the absolutely beautiful part of the world that is Windsor. Windsor was where I spent the first couple of weeks when my family moved to England for a few years. The home that the RAF was providing for my family was undergoing some renovations and so we stayed at the Windsor Castle Hotel, right across the street from Windsor Castle which was the epicenter of such fanfare and celebration yesterday.

The music was glorious and drew from both very traditional and very modern and both very English and also multi-cultural sources.

Besides the vows and all the liturgy of Holy Matrimony, I especially found the sermon by Archbishop Michael Curry to be very inspirational. His sermon, drawing from both the Old Testament and New Testament readings was about Love (of course) and about Fire! He quoted from the Song of Solomon which speaks about the characteristics of love: “love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame”

Today we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, and fire plays a central role. We don’t quite get how that works, it’s even hard to try to imagine what the disciples actually experienced, but whatever it was, it certainly changed everything for them. They were transformed from a huddled group of terrified disciples, hidden behind locked doors into a bold and empowered Church of Apostles who would go out and spread the message of God’s unconditional love, made known to us in the life, teachings and even death and resurrection of God’s son, Jesus, our Lord.

What did it look like? Well, there are two major kind of primal elements that come together: Wind and Fire!

The disciples have been through so much. After the years of amazing, powerful and often confusing ministry with Jesus, they’ve seen him crucified. And then starting three days later they start to see him, seemingly in flashes. Appearing and disappearing – sometimes seemingly substantial – proving his physicality for example when showing his hands and side to Thomas, or when eating a piece of fish on the beach with the disciples, and sometimes seeming ethereal like when he just appears among them behind licked doors, or when on the way to Emmaus, he breaks bread with two disciples, they recognize him and then he vanishes. And then finally, the event which we celebrated last week, he Ascends into heaven but promises that he will send the Spirit of truth, which he also calls the Advocate. They’re probably more confused than ever at this point.

But they do what he says: they remain in the city until they are clothed with power from on high. Now they know what Jesus means!

You know, some translations of the Bible speak of the Holy Spirit in today’s Gospel as the ‘Comforter.” That is certainly the word that the King James Version used. So there are all kinds of Churches across the world called the Church of the Holy Comforter. In the NRSV, which we used today, Jesus speaks about sending the Advocate. In the Greek, in which the Gospel is written, its the word, Paraclete. No, that’s not parakeet (in place of the dove of the Holy Spirit.) Imagine, at Jesus’ baptism, his being dive-bombed by the holy budgie!

When thinking about the event of Pentecost, the imagery that we get, and its results, I really think that the English word, “Comforter” is the wrong word. The Holy Spirit doesn’t seem to be engaged in the act of comforting here – nor in anywhere in the Bible that I can think of.

The disciples first know something is up when, behind closed doors, they hear the rush of a violent wind. Its sound fills the room. That’s the first element. And the second is fire – tongues of fire in the midst of a violent wind which rests on each of them. We remember John the Baptist’s words “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” This doesn’t sound like a comforting Holy Spirit!

Now, from previous  Pentecost sermons, you know of my fascination, as a boy, with fire. Is it a guy thing? Is there a pyromaniac in the heart of all small boys? Maybe it’s in everyone?

You’ve heard how my brother and our friends used to experiment with blowing things up, or trying to perfect molatov cocktails flung at rocks in the gravel pit, but I don’t think I’ve already shared that at an earlier age, (parents, please cover the ears of your children) my brother and I managed to set the garage floor on fire! It was almost a foregone conclusion. We were in charge of mowing the lawn. There was the container of gas for the lawnmower, here we were in a mostly empty garage with a cement floor. What could go wrong?

It was just a small little puddle, who could have known that the whoosh of flames would practically touch the ceiling, and would take more time than we imagined to burn itself out! It was powerful! It certainly had the potential to be violent – just like a violent wind. Fire is elemental, it changes things – undoes things - remakes them – energizes them – it consumes – it can destroy and it can also create.

Archbishop Michael Curry showed how fire is so essential to life and to progress. It allowed the industrial revolution, and the fire of the sun burning is what gives the energy and life to our world! The burning of fire within a person is how love is represented a fire that burns and cannot be extinguished. The fire of passion that spurs us to action in every kind of love – romantic (like at a Royal Wedding) but also compassion shown here at St. Luke’s in the many acts of outreach which has grown and multiplied over the years, and the love that feeds us in worship and receiving Holy Communion.

Today we celebrate Fire and Wind – and the way that it recreates the first disciples and can recreate us. Our faith, inspired and created by a fire burning within us and a great wind that pushes us out of closed doors to action always showing the passion of great love.

I leave you with a question: Where is your passion? How can you draw on the living flame of God’s love, which is the gift of the Holy Spirit implanted in you. Remember this holy love which burns inside you. Fan the flame, draw from it, be on fire with your passion for being faithful to God’s call to action to you! Amen.