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The Song of the Wren

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I saw a wren again today, or should I say I heard it. I also heard one last summer on the shores of Lake Erie and I am told they sing in Toronto too, but it was earlier today on a walk through a rural estuary that the song again captured my heart. 

The wren is not the prettiest bird in the forest and might well be mistaken for a simple sparrow were it not for its song. It is plain brown in colour and pudgy in shape with a tail feather that won't sit down, but when it sings, oh when it sings, it all but gives me wings. 

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The wren is like one of those remarkable people who always finds the good and virtuous thing on which to dwell. We want such people around. In fact we need to surround ourselves with a choir of such voices. I believe the song of the wren lives in all our hearts waiting to be sung and when it is, we are closer to the Kingdom of God. 

The Soil and the Soul

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I saw some beautiful blue and purple hydrangeas while out on a walk this evening.  We are more familiar with the white and pink hydrangeas in Toronto, but in fact the only difference between a pink or red hydrangea and a blue or purple one is the chemicals in the soil.  From what I understand, white hydrangeas are pretty much static in terms of their colour, but not so with the pink, red, blue and purple hydrangeas.  Those of the red and pink tones simply have higher levels of phosphorous in their soils which can be enhanced with the addition of lime, whereas the bluer hydrangeas have levels of aluminum in the soil that give them their colour.  

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There is a sense in which we are like hydrangeas.  The nutrients that feed our souls give shade to our character.  Someone was recently speaking about the way fear and ignorance feed racist tendencies.  In contrast the Spirit of Christ, when we abide in him and his word abides in us, shades our lives with the tones of his love and grace for one and all.  It is never too late to adjust the soil on which our souls feed and when we feed on Christ, though completely unaware, we enhance our true beauty through acts of love and kindness.  

Our friend, the Rev. Mrs. Fleming Rutledge of New York City, who served as a keynote speaker at last year's Lester Randall Preaching Fellowship sent me a piece she posted to her blog yesterday and I am posting it here with her permission.  

She speaks courageously and powerfully to the divide in America and contending that the whole church must give voice to the whole gospel in light of today's challenges.  She speaks of it as one of the most important issues of her lifetime.  Her blog of two days earlier entitled 'We Don't Deserve the Black Church,' was deeply moving and can be read at:   http://ruminations.generousorthodoxy.org/2016/07/we-dont-deserve-forbearance-of-black_12.html

To read more of this profoundly insightful Christian leader go to:

http://generousorthodoxy.org/

WORDS TO THE CHURCH IN OUR PRESENT NATIONAL CRISIS 

By Fleming Rutledge, (July 14, 2016) 

This morning's New York Times front page drives me to my laptop to write what I intend to be the most important blog post I have ever written (I have posted 355 messages on my Ruminations in the past 5 years, and 420 in Tips for the Times). This new post follows along with my immediately preceding one on Ruminations, called "We don't deserve the black church").

If I, at the age of almost 79, am ever going to put my reputation (such as it is) for preaching and teaching on the line, it's now. If I have ever written or spoken about anything whatsoever, I venture to put this post at the top of the table of contents. If I have ever been helpful to anyone seeking my guidance in the church at any time for any reason, now is the moment for me to throw all the small weight I have, God being my helper, behind what I have to say today.

My beloved professor and mentor Paul L. Lehmann used to throw around the phrase status confessionis a good deal--too often, I sometimes thought. From time to time I have wondered if the status confessionis weren't upon us, for example during the buildup to the invasion of Iraq. I am quite sure that it is upon us now. Here is a definition:
status confessionis: "a state of confessing," is a dire situation in which the church must stand up for the integrity of the gospel and the authority of the Word of God it confesses, or else lose its soul. The Latin term arose during Lutheran doctrinal debates in the 16th century, but it has grown out of its original context. Today it is particularly associated with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran, who used it in the context of the church's response to the rise of the Third Reich.
I believe that the soul of the American church is at stake as it has not been since the Civil Rights movement fifty years ago, when the white churches presented a very mixed and sometimes shameful face to the nation. Today I believe that all the congregations of this country--Roman Catholic, Protestant mainline, the various mainline breakaways, Pentecostal, nondenominational, Anabaptist, Seventh Day Adventist, black, Hispanic, Korean, Chinese, liberal, conservative, orthodox, revisionist, you name it--are called to the same vocation in these deeply threatening times when the American experiment is at stake. I believe that any preacher in the American church today who fails to speak out in no uncertain terms, not just on one Sunday but on many Sundays, about the climate we rather suddenly find ourselves in, has forfeited his or her claim to preach the Word of the living God.

In the African-American church, it is customary to invite political figures to speak and even to endorse some of them. It would probably be a mistake for white churches to take up this custom. However, it is quite possible to preach many biblical sermons on the themes of mutual love and forbearance across racial, religious, ethnic and other lines without ever mentioning the name of a political candidate or a political party. The message of the old Adam and the new Adam in Romans 5:12-21 (for example) is universal and can be made unmistakably relevant to our current plight. Most of us know that Jesus taught that we should love our enemies and bless those who curse us, but we Christians are not setting a good example. I do not hear prayers for our enemies in our churches, only prayers for "our troops." This is meant to be a correction of our failure to support our troops in Vietnam, but we are in a new situation now. Never were prayers for our enemies more important to our identity as disciples of Christ.

There are countless texts that can be expounded in our situation, and not all of them are from the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. To give just one obvious example: Deut. 24:11-22, with its repeated reminder that "you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt."  (In fact, I'll venture to say that almost any passage from Scripture will lead to the same conclusions when read from the perspective of our crucified Lord.) The conservative churches have shied away from this sort of preaching because of antipathy toward what's seen as the substitution of social justice messages for the biblical gospel, but now, if ever, is the time to shuck off that false dichotomy. President Obama gave us some good texts in his address at the memorial service for the five police officers: "I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you," says the prophet Ezekiel...and Obama pleaded, "That's what we must pray for, each of us: a new heart." He also quoted I John 3:18, "Let us love, not with words or speech, but with actions and in truth."

If the preaching and teaching of the church, week in and week out, is grounded in the gospel of a Lord who was crucified for all sinners (Romans 8:3-4), it would not be so easy for us to fall back into tribal patterns, fear of people not like us, guilt by association, the demonizing of perceived enemies, and other non-Christian habits of mind. It would be easier for the average Christian in the workplace or club or family gathering to speak up against these pernicious divisions that we now see coming out from under the rocks. When a sincere Christian like Tim Tebow is led astray by false teaching, we see that anything can happen.

A dear friend in South Africa called yesterday and asked me what was going on in the United States, how this sudden unleashing of xenophobia and nativism could have happened. I groped for an answer. My best thinking is that the often-invoked factor of "anger" is not sufficient explanation. I believe the Bible and all great literature teaches us that there is a fault line in all of human nature, not just in certain subgroups.  In those fortunate enough to have grown up in a strong culture of respect and forbearance, this fault line is more deeply suppressed, not so likely to break through the restraints of civilized behavior. In those who are estranged from such familial and group cultures, the ugly instincts that lie within us all are just waiting for permission to appear in public. Thus, many people who have not been brought up in a Christian community like "Mother Emanuel" in Charleston, where the black members of a Bible study refrained from grabbing their guns when nine of their number were murdered by a white man, will react in a fashion not consonant with the evangelical message, no matter how they may identify as evangelical. Similarly, there are a great many Jews who are so strongly grounded in their own story ("you were slaves in the land of Egypt") that they are disproportionately represented in philanthropic groups supporting the oppressed and needy; whereas other Jews not so deeply grounded (e.g., Bernie Madoff, the "Den of Thieves") will drift away from their own roots and commit crimes against their own tradition.

The Body of Christ, when it is working the way God means it to, is a living illustration of what God intends for humankind. It is a "culture," if you will, that is stronger than the flawed individuals who are its members. Great heroes like Bonhoeffer have emerged from the church, but every day there are small, nonheroic people who rise up and resist injustice in the name of Christ. This is the Christian community acting as the branches of the Vine which is Christ.

Christians in America are on the verge of committing crimes against the gospel.  Let us who are preachers and teachers and church leaders rise up and meet this challenge, not counting the cost but being faithful to the Lord who promises that he will be with us to the end of the world. He has guaranteed that his Word will not return to him empty.

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A few months ago, when the primaries were just beginning, I heard a commentator say that he hoped Donald Trump would soon have to step out of the running, because the longer he stayed in, the more Americans would feel that they had permission to express hostile and violent thoughts about blacks, Jews, immigrants, Muslims, Hispanics, and other perceived enemies. Now it has come true; the genie is out of the bottle. Here is the link to today's front page:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/14/us/politics/donald-trump-white-identity.html?ref=todayspaper

Our friend, the Rev. Dr. Marvin McMickle, President of the Colgate Rochester, Crozer Divinity School, who has preached at Yorkminster Park several times and will be returning in October as one of our keynote speakers at the Lester Randall Preaching Fellowship, wrote the following after the recent shootings in the USA.  I have posted it with his permission.  I have also included a prayer I have penned in response to Dr. McMickle's moving words.   

A Tale of Three Cities

by the Rev. Dr. Marvin McMickle, 

President, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School 

It was the worst of times. This partial reference to the novel, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens frames my thoughts and prayers today. It was the worst of times in Dallas, Texas when a black gunman determined to "kill white people" unleashed a hail of bullets that resulted in the death of five police officers and the wounding of seven more. It is unpardonable and unimaginable that someone who stated that he was somehow fueled and driven by the issue of "Black Lives Matter" would think that the best way to respond to the rampant cycle of shootings of black males by white police officers is to simply reverse the equation and have black men target and shot white police officers. As Gandhi said decades ago in defense of non-violence as a response to intentional acts of violence, "If we practice an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth then the whole world will end up blind and toothless." As bad as the gun epidemic is in America, we are not going to shoot and kill our way out of this problem.

That being said, it would not be wise to completely disassociate the events in Dallas from the shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota where equally innocent persons were shot to death by police officers. Sadly, those events and the protests that evolved from them are being lost while all eyes turn to Dallas. Black Lives Matter in this case as well. It was the worst of times when those two men and their families joined the lengthy list of over 430 persons so far this year that have been shot and killed by police officers. We must focus on all three cities'; not just on one. In fact, we must focus on every city and town in America where people feel less safe today. My own 36-year-old son who lives in New York City recently wrote on his Facebook page that he fears being "executed" by the police of that city because at any given moment he might become "guilty of the crime of his color." My brother who lives in Chicago observed that young black men are guilty of the crime of BWB (Breathing While Black).   

The events of the last few days cannot and should not be viewed in isolation. They are part of a tortured history that dates back for decades if not centuries. As Eddie Glaude, Jr. has argued in his book, Democracy in Black, some people's lives matter more (or less) than others. Guns are increasingly being used to enforce one person's will upon others. Some police officers are quick to use deadly force even when there is no threat to them or anyone else. People who had nothing to say about the shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota, Cleveland, Charleston, Charlotte, Chicago, Baltimore, and other cities across the country were standing in line to comment on the shootings in Dallas.

The events in Dallas have undoubtedly made matters worse in terms of police/community relations. Police officers may be more suspicious when approaching a black suspect. Black people are already suspicious when approached by the police. It is one of the worst of times in America. The way out of this "valley of the shadow of death" will only be found when all of us realize that Black Lives and All Lives really do matter. I am a person of deep and unshakable faith in God. Therefore, I cling to what the old gospel song says, "If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need Him now."

A Prayer to guide our prayers in these times - by Peter Holmes 

Gracious God as word continues to come in from Dallas and Minneapolis and Baton Rouge of conflict and killings in the streets of America may those of us in far away cities and even different countries be slow to judge and quick to pray.  And so we ask for the healing of this great wound in America and for a fresh awakening to the Word made Flesh who dwells among us even still and  who alone can bring the strength to open ourselves completely to love and grace. 

Bring to us an awareness, O God, of all that gets in the way and especially of the fears that foster hatred and the hatred that hastens death in all our souls and cities.  O God with humble and contrite spirits we repent of all prejudice and fear and pray for the grace to accept your perfect love which casts out all fear.  Empower us by your Holy Spirit, O Father, to embrace the Spirit of Christ and aim for nothing less than the City of God.  

A Prayer for Orlando

We have all been listening this week to the pain and agony of Orlando.  Over and over, I have been moved, but not sure what to say.  After all, who am I to speak?  I am not gay.  I am not a Muslim nor an American and such brutality makes no sense, but things do need to be said.  I have come back to the wise words of Pastor Martin Niemoller, who I believe once preached at Yorkminster Park.  He was a Lutheran pastor who spent seven years in a Nazi concentration camp for his opposition to the Third Reich.  Niemoller wrote,

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Socialist.  

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me."

I am not gay and so I don't pretend to know or even imagine the pain and fear that has enveloped the LGBTQ community since the Sunday morning massacre in Orlando.  But these are our brothers and sisters, our children, our friends and our neighbours who work and worship with us side by side.  And as a follower of Christ, I must  stand in solidarity with them against all hatred and fear directed at them believing this is the posture of Jesus.  For God so loved the world . . .

I am not a Muslim and so I don't pretend to know or even imagine the pain and fear that has enveloped this religious community which again feels grossly misrepresented and let down by fanatical extremists and now feels afraid of potential repercussions directed their way.  Are not these also our neighbours and friends?  As a follower of Christ, I must stand in solidarity with them against all hatred and fear directed at them believing this too is the posture of Jesus.  For God so loved the world . . .

I am not persecuted for my faith and so I can't begin to imagine the pain and fear that daily envelops Christians, Muslims, Jews, Druze and others who live in vulnerability as religious minorities around the world.  Yet these are our sisters and brothers in believing.  And as a follower of Christ, and as a Baptist I must champion their religious liberty and the importance of their freedom of conscience.  Anything less is an assault on my own.   And as follower of Christ, I must pray for all who persecute, and I must hope and believe that love will one day rule the world.  For God so loves the world . . .

These are all neighbours and friends and even if someone turns out to be my enemy, I am a Christian and my first response must always be love.  Jesus made it so clear.  Over and over he said, "Love your neighbour as yourself . . ." "Love one another . . ."  "Love your enemies and pray . . ." "For God so loved the world . . ."

And so we pray...

Loving God, forgive us for too often giving in to fear and allowing it to turn our hearts against you and against one another.  We pray for your healing peace to be upon the people of Orlando and the families and loved ones who grieve.  We pray too for all the bullies of this world, near and far, asking that they might encounter you in their hearts, and at last discover they are not called to be gods in this world, but that wonderfully you do love them and call them to their true meaning in love and service.

Now by the power of your Holy Spirit liberate us all to love and serve.  Set us free, O God, from the slavery to sin and the fear that so easily leads us astray.  Lead us instead to that day when swords will be beat into plough shares, guns into pruning sheers, and the lion and lamb will lie down together.  O God, guide us by the power of your Spirit, to embrace your Kingdom's call on earth as it is in heaven.  Amen.

Grace and Peace,

Peter 

It was a privilege to share in the leadership of the 30th Annual Neighbourhood Inter-Faith Event.  I was invited to offer the Christian perspective on a panel presentation on 'The Language of War and Peace in our Religious Tradtions, with my friend, Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl and a brilliant young lawyer, Azeezah Kanji, of the Noor Cultural Centre, (Islam).   I was pinch-hitting for the Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches who was called away a few weeks prior.

In my own presentation, I established that both the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and the example of Jesus in the face of violence are at the heart and soul of the Christian position on war and peace, but that since Constantine's vision of Christ, (Oct. 28, 312), on the eve of his victorious battle to gain control of the Roman Empire and the subsequent establishment of earthly 'Christian' kingdoms with armies and military agendas, Christ's teachings have been all the more challenging.  

I cited various times in history such as the Crusades, (1095 - 1291), when Christians engaged in and used the language of 'Holy War.'   The Western Church  seemed to find the use of such language easier than the church in the East. However, it was Thomas Aquinas, (1225 - 1274) in the West whose teachings sought to severely limit warfare in the name of Christ, through his positions on 'just war,' and 'holy war.'  

Finally, while I noted the use of Christian language and imagery by political leaders of the west during wars right through the 20th century and the manner in which the militaristic language of hymns often lent support to these efforts, I was able to focus on the many movements to return the church to the teachings of Christ on war and peace through groups and individuals in Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant communities like the Mennonites, Martin Luther King Jr. Abuna Elias Chacour and so many others.  

I also made reference to the Pax Dei, (Peace of God), movement which began in 989 and continued through the Middle Ages in an effort to end warfare in Europe.  I suggested that in light of nuclear weaponry and religious fanaticism a new Pax Dei must be embraced and proclaimed in the name of God by the leaders of our three religions.  Such an effort could be instrumental in stemming the tide against tarnishing the name of religion.  I also said that as religious leaders we should hold political leaders to account when they begin to invoke the name of God in support of military efforts or aims as in accordance with Thomas Aquinas.   

Rabbi Frydman-Kohl articulated two traditions in Judaism, one which is less adverse to using the militaristic language in regard to the faith and a second Rabbinic tradition of preaching and promoting peace.  As always Rabbi Frydman-Kohl was deep and profound.  Azeezah Kanji has a sharp legal mind and spoke passionately for an understanding of her faith as a religion of peace.  

The focus of much of Azeezah Kanji's has been summarized in the article in the Canadian Jewish News and the Rabbi's pushback is contained both there and in his own Facebook posting.   http://www.cjnews.com/news/canada/interfaith-panel-discussion-touches-contemporary-politics 

At one point Azeezah seemed to downplay the plight of Christians in the Middle East as incidental compared to the suffering of Muslims at the hands of Daesh (ISIS).  Both Rabbi Frydman-Kohl and I responded to assert that the suffering of Christians is very significant and that from the reports there appears to be a clear Daesh agenda shared by militant Islamic groups in other places to not only remove Christians but also the evidence of their historic presence in the community which often dates back to the first generation of the church.  

In retrospect I only wish that I had been able to ask the Rabbi about some of the rich prophetic Hebrew Scriptures about peace like Isaiah 2; Isaiah 11 and Micah 4.  So many of the great images of peace such as swords being beat into ploughshares, the lion and lamb lying down together, children learning of war no more, and each man at peace beneath their fig tree.  Let us continue to look to such a day in faith.  

I was assisted greatly in my preparations by a young historian in the church named Eric McGeer, who has written extensively in this field.  Thank you Eric.

Grace and Peace,

Peter

Inspiration from Attawapiskat

Today's online edition of the Globe and Mail contains a story about the people of Attawapiskat who in recent months have faced an epidemic of suicides and attempted suicides about which Canada feels deeply grieved.    However, the article was not reporting on the crisis, but rather on a donation the people of Attawapiskat have raised to help the people of Fort McMurray.  The news jumps off the page because instinctively we think that when we are in need we have to focus solely on our own well being.  The gift is so counter-intuitive that when the Red Cross received it they contacted the Chief of Attawapiskat, Bruce Shisheesh and quoted him as saying, "We want to help."  It was the Red Cross who broke the story, not the people of Attawapiskat.   

I found the news inspiring.  It's not that it was an extraordinary amount of money, but it reminded me of a wise saying a Jewish friend once offered me, "One is never too poor to be generous."   The news from Attawapiskat offers us hope as it also brings to mind a line from St. Francis' prayer, "It is in giving that we receive."   There is a great spiritual depth in our First Nation community and we do well to learn from it.   My prayer is that through this act of caring and helping Fort McMurray, the people of Attawapiskat will discover the truth of Jesus' words when he taught that true greatness comes in serving others.  I pray too, that as such greatness is achieved, it will turn the world on its ears and as Jesus said, "The first shall be last and the last first."  

Grace and Peace,

Peter 

A Prayer for Fort McMurray

The fire that is raging in Fort McMurray, Alberta has gone viral and the images which have spread around the world are being called 'apocalyptic.'  There have been many 'great fires' that have consumed portions of great cities, but most of them took place before the radical advances made in firefighting and fire prevention over the last 150 years and before the advances of modern photography, and so there simply aren't many photographs of anything quite like it in our country.  And a great part of the shock of course is that it is within our own borders and a town which so many of us have a connection to through a relative or friend who has made Fort McMurray their home if only for a chapter in their lives.  

We may not hear much about them anymore, but Toronto has suffered at least three great fires in its history.  The fire of 1849 destroyed St. James Cathedral and the St. Lawrence Market district.  It was said the flames of the fire could be seen across the lake in St. Catharines.  The fire of 1904 started at Bay and Wellington and consumed entire blocks of our city before it could finally be brought under control, but only after firefighters from Hamilton and Buffalo arrived on the scene to help.  In the end they said it was rain that put it out.  They are now saying that rain is what is needed in Fort McMurray.  

Some will remind us that a fire can have beneficial long term results and it is very true, but this is not the time for such philosophical comforts.  A fire also has devastating short term effects.   The 1904 fire in Toronto left 5,000 people without jobs and the 1900 Hull, Quebec fire left 40% of the Hull population homeless before jumping the river and similarly effecting 15% of Ottawa's population. Fort McMurray appears to be on just such a path of devastation and destruction.  Entire neighbourhoods have been destroyed.  Homes filled with priceless memories and keepsakes and computers filled with work and information are gone.  Thankfully there have not been many deaths yet, but our hearts can't help go out to its countless citizens on the highway of refugees leading south.  

Wonderfully, communities to the south are opening their homes and community centres and politicians are promising help.  These things can bring out the best in us and we must pray it continues to do so, but some voices are already being less than kind in search of someone or something to blame.  After the London fire rumours persisted that the fires were started by foreigners and xenophobia spread like a second fire.  We must silence these voices.  These people have left everything behind and have no idea if or when they can return.  Many will have lost their jobs, businesses and livelihood.  Children have been dislodged from the only home they have known.  Our hearts have to go out to them.  As Canadians we must offer our help wherever we can in their aid and as believers we must pray.  I invite you to use this prayer to guide you in your prayers.   


Gracious God you are our one true hope in all the calamities of life.  Through the generations you have been our refuge and strength and a very present help in trouble, and so we turn to you as we think of the people of Fort McMurray who now gather their children and flee for safety.  Watch over their steps and keep them safe and well.  We pray for the children taken from home and school and the friendships they enjoy.  Comfort them in your peace.   We pray for those fighting the fire and all who stay behind to offer help and assistance.  Protect them.  We pray for the land parched, thirsty and now burned.  Bring rain to halt the fire and heal the wounded earth. Breath hope into the hearts of the people.  Restore the community, strengthen her spirit and unite us as a nation in our resolve to care for our brothers and sisters now stranded like refugees within our own borders.  Merrciful God, restore too the dreams that have been shattered and the hopes that have been eclipsed.   All of these things we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.  


Grace and Peace, 

Peter 

"My sheep listen to my voice..."

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"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me."  These words of Jesus from John chapter ten were the text for my sermon last week and speak deeply into my own faith.  The words brought to mind a day five years ago when 

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while exploring ancient Greek, Roman and Christian ruins outside the Biblical town of Sardis, I looked up an embankment and discovered a lamb looking down at me.  

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I climbed the embankment and discovered a scattered flock, but a few moments later a shepherd appeared in the distance calling the sheep and one by one they responded and followed him.  Indeed the sheep knew his voice and clearly he knew each one.   It wasn't long before the shepherd reached me and with a smile handed me the young lamb that had been looking down at me.  In that moment I was reminded of Jesus words to Peter, "Feed my sheep."  The words of the Risen Christ to Peter were full of grace and that moment I had with the shepherd was for me a sign of a greater grace in my own life. 

To hear me tell the story of the shepherd go to:  http://www.yorkminsterpark.com/gather/webcast/index.php

Grace and Peace,

Peter 

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In the Smell of Bread

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Had I shut my eyes before I entered the church today I'd have thought I'd passed through the front door of a bakery.  There is something almost sacred about the smell of fresh bread in a church.  Legend has it that Garfield Weston was taken onto the bakery floor in the arms of his father George when he was only days old in order to put him in the smell of bread.  I like that story and I referred to it in a sermon a few weeks back, because I think that is what the church should be doing.  

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But there was something almost spicy in the air today as well.  So I followed my nose to the main kitchen and surprise, surprise, there I found Rhoda Hill, Mary Stevens and Glenyce MacDonald baking hot cross buns for a great cause.   The buns will be on sale tomorrow for $5 a tray and the proceeds will go towards the Oneida STM in August.  

Hot cross buns have traditionally been associated with Good Friday and the end of Lent.  The cross on top symbolizes the cross of Christ and the spices represent the burial of Jesus.  I hope the smell of bread lingers in the church till tomorrow.  I hope it never fades.  Church should always be seeking to put us in the smell of bread, the Bread of Life. 

Grace and Peace,

Peter 

p.s. Don't forget to set your clocks ahead an hour tonight or the buns may be all gone before you arrive.

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Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes

Peter Holmes, BA, MDiv, DMin is the Minister of the Congregation at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church

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