Thursday, June 27, 2019

A Rest

It's time for a rest from the blog-spot - check back in September 2019.


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Ordinary Time

You might have heard the phrase, “Ordinary Time,” referring to the periods, in our liturgical calendar, from the Baptism of the Lord to Ash Wednesday and Trinity Sunday to the Reign of Christ Sunday. I haven’t counted them, but there are 34 such Sundays in the year. “Ordinary,” in this case, doesn’t mean, “with no special or distinctive features; normal.” Rather, from the Latin, it means, “numbered or in order.” So the reason I didn’t have to count the ordinary Sundays is that someone else already did.

(Okay, before someone catches me, sometimes there are 33 Sundays in Ordinary Time, all because Easter Day is a movable feast.)

Essentially, the Ordinary Times in our Church year are those times that are not Advent, Christmas, Lent or Easter. Ordinary Time is by far the longest season in the year.

Now, you’re not going to hear me say, “Welcome to the fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time,” because we call the Sundays “in Epiphany” in the winter, and “after Pentecost” in the summer and fall. Just to add to the confusion, these used to be called Sundays, “after Trinity” in the Book of Common Prayer.

The stories featured in the Gospel readings tend to be ones that tell the stories of Jesus teaching, either through parables or by his actions. It is therefore thought of as a time of growth and the liturgical colour is green (a colour associated with growth).

I encourage everyone to use this season as a time of growth, as a time to hear these extra-ordinary stories from the Bible to help feed our personal growth.

One way to think about the readings from the Gospels during this season is to ask the question, “why did the writer think it was important to tell this particular story?” In other words, “what does the writer want me to know by telling this story?” These questions apply to the stories Jesus told, as well as the stories told about him. It is helpful to think of the whole of Jesus like as parables, short stories telling us something about God. They might be ordered, but there’s nothing ordinary about them.

Thursday, June 13, 2019


From: The Rev. Canon Carolyn Tomlin

My husband, the Rev. John Ferguson and I joined the Parish of St. Paul’s in the summer of 2017. We are both retired clergy of the Diocese, he having served the parishes of Alberton, PEI and Eastern Passage, and I in the parishes of Musquodoboit, Arichat with Port Hawkesbury, Western Shore and St. Luke’s Dartmouth.

Many years ago we rented a cottage at St. Peter’s Harbour and loved it so much that we began to dream of buying a property there and spending 6 months in Halifax and six months in the Harbour in retirement. And through the grace of God, it worked! So we freeze from May 1 till June 15 every year, sweat from mid June till late October, then freeze again till we go home at Hallowe’en.

We also needed to find a church family, and naturally gravitated towards St. Paul’s since I knew your Rector John since before he was ordained.  John and Teresa had always been warm and welcoming and we hoped their church was, too.

And of course, it is. We were immediately embraced by you; welcomed, appreciated, and in time invited to take roles in worship. My John covered last summer’s sabbatical leave and will be doing some services later this summer. I cannot do things which require speaking because of past vocal cord damage, but I do function here as a Eucharistic Minister, as does John. We are hoping to be tour guides later in the summer.

Your welcome of us was exceptional. There are congregations where people are too preoccupied to notice the stranger among them. But not you.

There are congregations full of shy, introverted people who do not know how to welcome the stranger, so they don’t.

There are congregations full of desperate people who pounce on newcomers  and cry “Aha! Someone to run the confirmation class!” on the visitor’s first day. But not you.

You gently brought us in, got to know us, brought us alongside and up to speed, all in our own time, and for that we thank you.

Now we have St. Peter’s Harbour to love as home, and St Paul’s as family to love as well. Life is good!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Spirit = Wind, Fire, Goose!

There is a traditional children’s game called, “Duck, Duck, Goose,” the object of which is to run around a circle of people, touching each one and saying, “duck.” But, when the person who is “it” says, “goose” that person is to chase the one who is “it” before they get back to your empty spot to avoid being “it.” Children’s games are far easier to play than to explain.

Ducks, it seems, are far easier to control than geese. Ducks usually just sit there, while geese will chase you around. So, for centuries the Celtic people have depicted the Holy Spirit as a wild goose. It is noisy, uncontrollable, unpredictable and will chase you around—just like God’s Holy Spirit.

Fire keeps us warm and cooks our food. Fire sheds light in darkness and bring us a sense of safety. Fire also burns and destroys. For all of these reasons, ones that are comforting and ones that are dangerous, the Holy Spirit is depicted as fire.

There’s nothing quite like opening the doors and windows in the springtime and letting the fresh breeze blow through the house. Even inanimate objects seem to straighten up, appreciating the fresh air. Yet a storm can be very frightening and strong wind can cause great destruction. Again, both the freshness and the power are intended when we use the image of the Holy Spirit as wind.

Oh, how often I sat in a circle hoping that I would not be the goose.

Oh, how often I fear that the Church refuses to even play the game, to even sit in a circle and hope and pray to be touched by the goose, to be licked by the burning fire, to be knocked over by the stiff wind.

It is a dangerous thing we play with when we play with the Holy Spirit. It can roar with great violence and burn with its heat, but when harnessed, in a community of faith, the Holy Spirit can inspire and motivate in ways that are beyond our imaginations.

If I were to play Duck-Duck-Goose today, I would pray to be “it” so I could run around touching everyone on the shoulder shouting, “GOOSE!”