A Sermon for Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday – a preacher’s nightmare really. Preaching on the Trinity can be about as exciting as have your teeth fixed which I did this week so I speak as one having some authority! At least the readings are good ones this morning. Good old Nicodemus greets us like an old friend.
His encounter with Jesus, however, can be as perplexing as the doctrine of the Trinity. “You must be born from above,” “ Born Again” and right from there we all know where the sermon might go. But lets just hang on for a second. Jesus’ is saying to Nicodemus that there is something missing or something not yet in his relationship with God. And here is a place from which we can start – after all who among us hasn’t felt that before – that something was missing in our lives ?
The Lion King was a pretty big deal in Toronto and I’m sure most of you saw the movie. Towards the end there is a scene where the spirit of the dead King says to his prodigal son, “ You have become less than you are.” And that’s us. Those words, and the tension they express between the “already” and the “not yet,” are as clear an indication of the Christian life as there is to be had.

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A Sermon for Pentecost Sunday

You and I live mostly on the plain, the horizontal experience of human life, our lives are largely predictable and marked by routine. We leave little room in our schedules for the unexpected. Yet, every once in a while we get a hint of transcendence of something beyond the everyday and routine. Here is a tale recounted by the writer Frederick Buechner;
A year or so ago, a friend of his died….One morning in his sixty-eighth year he simply didn’t wake up. It was about as easy a way as he could possibly have done it, but it wasn’t easy for the people he left behind because it gave them no chance to get used to the idea…or even to say goodbye….He died in March, and in May Buechner and his wife stayed with the widow of his dead friend.
That night he dreamed about his friend. He was standing there in the dark guest room looking very much himself in the navy blue jersey and white pants he often wore. He told him that he was glad to see him, how much that he was missed.
Somehow he acknowledged that. Then Buechner said, “Are you really there, Tom.” He answered that yes he was really there. “Can you prove it?” “Of Course”, was the reply. Then he plucked a strand of wool out of his jersey and tossed it to Buechner.
He caught it between his thumb and forefinger and the feel of it was so palpably real that it woke him up. And that’s all there was to it…….
Next morning he told the story over the breakfast table, he’d hardly finished when his wife spoke. She’d seen the strand of fibre on the carpet as she was getting dressed. Buechner rushed upstairs to see for himself, and there it was – a little tangle of navy blue wool.

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We’re Hiring!

We're hiring a youth minister!

Job Posting: Youth Minister

Job Details
Date Posted: April 28th, 2015
Date Closed: May 22nd, 2015
Pay Rate: Based on 20 hours per week and includes benefits
Church: St. Margaret Anglican, New Toronto, Ontario
Contact: Reverend Mark Gladding, parishpriest.stmargarets@bellnet.ca
Commitment: 20 hours per week

Are you passionate about making an eternal difference in a young person’s life? The Parish of St. Margaret, New Toronto, has served the community for over 100 years. Our mission is to live up to the words of former Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple: “The Church is the only organization in the world that exists for those who do not belong to it.” To learn more about St. Margaret, New Toronto, visit http://www.stmargaretsnewtoronto.ca/youth-programs/

We are looking for a part time (20 hours/week) Youth Minister who will work within the mission and vision of the church to be involved in the lives of St. Margaret’s youth, their families, and outreach to the surrounding multicultural neighbourhood. Through pastoral presence, leadership, discipleship, and programming, the Youth Minister will continue and strengthen our bi-weekly midweek activities such as our after school program, cooking club and youth group and weekend ministries, and collaborate with our volunteers to encourage and form our youth in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

In this position, you would partner with St. Margaret’s staff as part of a supportive pastoral leadership team involving volunteers, staff and wardens. You would be responsible for the overall direction and organization of the midweek activities and events that will provide an environment for the development of gospel formed, spiritually developing, culturally aware and sensitive young adults, with emphasis on the following areas:

  • Worship – acknowledging and experiencing God’s character through song and study
  • Spiritual Formation – growth through spiritual disciplines
  • Community – learning and living the biblical principles of loving, accepting, and supporting others
  • Ministry – practically applying what we believe and are learning
  • Evangelism and Mission – expressing love for God and for His world through action

Click here to download the complete job description.

Please email your resume and cover letter to Reverend Mark Gladding at parishpriest.stmargarets@bellnet.ca

Thank you for your application!

Good Friday

Why are we here? Why are we gathered in this beautiful space to remember a man who died a criminal’s death 2000 years ago on the other side of the world? What on earth has that got to do with you and me?

I had a teacher in seminary who had an unfortunate habit of starting each class by asking, “Why are we here?” It would always lead to an awkward, shuffling silence, in which no one had the courage or the bluntness to say, “I really have no idea, but you’re the teacher and we were all too polite to think of a good reason not to come.” This is a man who’d failed to learn the saying, “Never ask a question to which you might get an answer you don’t want to hear.” So it takes courage to ask the question, “Why are we here?”

Well, we’re gathered to recall one of the most awful events in human history. Let’s survey the scene. Here is a naked man. He’s been beaten to pulp. He’s bleeding hand and foot. His arms are spread–‐eagled so he can’t fight off the flies or wipe away the sweat and the blood.
He’s practically alone. He’s more or less isolated. He’s totally humiliated. It’s almost impossible to look, but we can’t take our eyes off of it. And at the climax of this ghastly scene, John’s gospel tells us, this man says one single word. “Finished.”

Finished. Think for a moment about the host of meanings of that word. Finished.
The project is finally edited and handed in. Finished. The marathon is run and I’m totally done in. Finished. The relationship is over and she’s told me she doesn’t love me. Finished. The work of art is completed and ready for display. Finished. The counselling has run its course and I can face the world without fear or bitterness or anger. Finished I’ve been told I’ve no longer got a job. Fnished.

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Sermon and Prayers for Transfiguration Sunday

Transfiguration 

“I’m not saying you should cut off your arm. But rather understand that our physical existence is temporary, and the journey for us has just begun” –Brownyn Gibson

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What are the stories of transfiguration in our society and media today? St Margaret’s youth group explores current stories and how they relate to the Transfiguration of Christ.

 

Joseph Gibson: There’s this man named Bruce Banner. He was a gifted scientist and intellectual. One day after dealing with a dangerous compound call Gamma Ray, he was infected with a special disease. He turned green and 5 times his own size with super strength every time he got upset. The media vilified him. They deemed him a monster and a criminal. One day, there was an explosion at the lab and a young student was caught in the blast. Bruce Banner, who wasn’t able to control his new ability, was part of a scientific miracle as he was able to control the power for good and save the little boy. This one moment of incredible selflessness changed the world for ever. They called him, The Hulk.

 

Eleanor Johnson: There’s this young wizard named Harry Potter. His parents were taken away from him as a little boy, but the villain was unable to take Harry’s life either, and instead left a scar on his forehead; a symbol of survival and warning. Years later, Harry was cracking under the pressure of his peers and the whole magic community. He was afraid he would not live up to the scar on his head, upon the return of the villain. He was just a regular boy. But during the final battle between Harry and the killer of his parents he summons a power that transcended magic. A connection with a higher power gave him this much needed transformation to defeat evil.

 

Bronwyn Gibson: There’s this young woman named “Katniss Everdeen” from District 12. During a time with an extreme gap between rich and poor, poor people are chosen from every district to compete in a survival-based competition and the winner is showered with riches. Every other competitor dies. During the lottery draw of her district, a young girl is picked. Katniss does something completely out of character and volunteers in her position. This incredible selfless gesture will ended up inspiring all the other districts and change the world.”

 

Patrick De Belen:

 Understanding the Transfiguration can be pretty difficult for a young person. From walking up the mountain and the doubt in Jesus, to the shining light on Jesus and the monuments built by the disciples, to the appearance of Moses and Elijah, and the message from God; “Listen to him.” There are a lot of things for us to breakdown. What should be known though, is that it is one of the most powerful stories in the New Testament. It’s the one time Jesus fully reveals Himself as a deity and when God showcases the amazingness of life after death. The only other time He does this is the crucifixion. The main aspect of this explicit reminder from God, is the transformation Jesus goes through from man to spirit. The light shining on His disciples symbolizes the message that this form of transformation is not specific to only highly-spiritual beings, but to every human who chooses a path of Christ over a path of sin. It’s a reminder that their journey will end in paradise.

Young people read stories of this transformation every day. People doing extraordinary things in the face of doubt and adversity, to remind the world that everything is always bigger than us. We encourage you to look for these reminders in your own life, whenever you are worried about the path we’re on.

Prayers of the People

Samantha Sheldrick:

I heard of this story where these two twins were living in fear and sadness, struggling to come out as gay to their families and friends. After years of waiting, they finally decided to come out to everyone but their father. They were so scared that he would no longer love them anymore. They built up the courage and sent him a video of them coming out. The father cried and promised to love them no matter who they choose to love. The video circulated internationally and help thousands of other young people. I hope that everyone could build up the courage to be themselves, even under extraordinary measures. We pray to the lord.

Dear lord, we pray that you help remind us to remain on the path of good. Though we may doubt and though we may stray, may you give us the strength to continue on and the willingness to look for reminders of You in our lives. Help us show a little bit of You in everything we do, and listen closely to the messages you send us. We pray to the lord.

Eleanor Johnson:

 I heard of this story where this girl named Annaliese Carr swam across Canada for a summer camp for cancer patients. She used whatever skills she had to do something bigger than herself. I hope that we can use her story along with millions of others, to remind us of the power and selflessness of God. We pray to the lord.

Bronwyn Gibson:

 I heard of this story where this mountain climber falls down a ravine and his hand gets trapped in a boulder. His only chance of survival is amputating his own arm. I pray that everyone understands the beauty and sacrifice in living with God. I’m not saying you should cut off your arm. But rather understand that our physical existence is temporary, and the journey for us has just begun. We pray to the lord.

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Advisory Board Meeting – March 2015

Purpose: To hold an Advisory Board meeting to conduct the business of The Parish of St. Margaret, New Toronto.
Desired Meeting Results: (DMR’s)
By the end of this meeting we will have…
1. Had a devotional time
2. Reviewed, discussed and made decisions, as required, on the various agenda items
3. Confirmed next meeting date including identifying a member to do devotions and bring the snack

Present: Rev. Mark, Rev Mary, Anne, Susan, Charlene, Lynne, Sharon, Doug

Regrets: Cara, Linda, Melinda, Marion, Mary Anne, Terry
Meeting Notes
Time Item Meeting Notes
7:15 pm Check-in A brief check-in was conducted.
7:20 pm Devotions Susan shared a devotional with an inspirational thought from the Dali Lama.
7:25 pm Finance/Stewardship Reports Updates A financial report was distributed and reviewed. The report provided a comparison of the actual year to date totals for January & February 2015 to January & February 2014. It was noted that these statements indicated that we are presently in a very good financial situation with revenue increase and expense decrease for the 2015 year. The hope is to have this trend continue for the remainder of this year.
It was also noted that an increase has also occurred in Sunday worship attendance for this same period for an average of 84 in 2015 in comparison to 74 in 2014.
No stewardship report was presented. It was noted that we continue to follow the Diocese stewardship calendar. The next task on the calendar will be a letter to all envelope holders encouraging them to become Pre Authorized Givers (PAGs).
7:30 pm Warden’s Report Updates
• Property – Roof

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A Sermon for the 5th Sunday in Lent

What Jesus wants us to know about his death on the cross is nothing else than what has to happen when you are human. The cross is about us because it is what it means to be us. Lest we think that the cross is some sort of ultimate moment of divine atonement, Jesus sets us straight. What becomes human must die. What becomes incarnate, must realize its end. If in the two weeks ahead we think that there is some sort of miracle in Jesus being crucified, well, that’s not what Jesus says here. Do we want some sort of miraculous exchange to occur because Jesus died? Do we need reconciliation so bad that we think it can be that easy? Do we hope that Jesus on the cross will fix everything for us, between us and God, between us and Jesus, between us and every relationship that needs fixing? Think again.
Jesus reminds us here, before Holy Week, before even his parting words to the disciples, that his death is not the end at all. It is no accident that Jesus helps us make sense of the resurrection before he helps us make sense of the cross. The whole order of things is mixed up, turned on its head. Life is death and death is life. The cross is not the answer. It’s the question. It’s not the singularly grand moment that some want to make it into but a moment in the entire Jesus event, his life, death, resurrection, and ascension, that is God so desperately wanting to be in relationship with us. Whatever fixation we have had on the cross, well, here Jesus blows it out of the proverbial water.
Because the cross is not the end. Not a very popular statement two weeks before Good Friday, is it? We need to milk the suffering and death of Jesus for all it’s worth, right? Because somehow that would justify our own suffering and pain and explain every relationship that ended in despair and disappointment. But Jesus won’t let us go there. And this is no fast track to the resurrection either. Not at all. Just the opposite. The cross is not the end; it’s the beginning and was from the beginning. It is about recognizing, accepting, seeing, that God knows a relationship with God is complicated. And that Jesus is no easy answer.

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Spirituality and a Hula Hoop

Today I would like to share a bit of my faith journey with you. It’s about spirituality and a hula hoop.

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Along with working at St Margaret’s I also teach world religion retreats to High School students.  We do an interactive day and I talk about spirituality. Because I think spirituality is important. What is spirituality? We often here the term “I’m spiritual but not religious.” But what does that really mean?

Spirituality is our connection to the presence of the divine within us, which awakens our sense of connectedness to our self, to others, to God/the Divine and to creation/the natural world.

As a working definition, we can think about religion as a set of practices, stories, rituals and symbols that express our spiritual life and our theology (how we understand our relationship with God and God’s relationship to us). Formal religion is a religion that is practiced in a structured, recognized, recognizable way by a culture, race, nation or significant population that has endured over time and place.  Within formal religion there may also be an aspect of accountability or connectedness to a wider community.

I ask the students “What do you do that connects you to yourself, to our community, to creation and to God?”

And that might not look like what we think of as “spiritual or religious” things. What practices do you do to feel that connection?

Maybe listening to music is a way you connect to yourself.

Maybe you love sports and playing on a team makes you feel connected to your community.

Maybe you love nature and you feel connected to creation when walking by the lake.

Maybe you are nourished by church and you feel connected when you come here.

For me hula hooping is one of my spiritual practices.

About five years ago I was working in a church and was leaving the church late one night. I heard music coming from one of the rooms so I peaked my head in and saw 20 women age 50-80 (there were grandmas in this class!) hula hooping. It was a fitness class and I thought “that looks like so much fun!” So I joined. I was the youngest person by about 30 years and it was fun. I also had friends who were into circus arts. I knew there were more ways you could move and dance with a hula hoop.

At this time I was really struggling with depression in my life.

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My family is blessed that we have a cottage. In the spring I decided to go up there for a week by myself to try and heal. And I brought my hula hoop. Every afternoon I would put on my music and dance with my hula hoop. And two amazing things happened.

The more I spun around in my hoop, the more centred and grounded I felt. The more peace I felt. It became a moving meditation. What do you do that brings you peace in your life? What brings you peace can be a spiritual practice.

I also love dancing. So the more I danced with my hoop, the more joy I felt. And the more joy I felt, the less pain and depression I felt. What brings you joy? What brings you joy can be a spiritual practice.

So this difficult time in my life was also a huge gift because I found hoop dance. Every time I step into my hoop I connect with myself and with God. It really didn’t feel like God was present during that time. We can feel that way when we are in pain, we feel God has abandoned us. It’s like the beautiful story where a man looks back on his life and sees two sets of footprints, his and Gods. But sometimes there is only one set of footprints when he was going through the most difficult times in his life. So he asks God- Why weren’t you walking with me when I needed you the most? And God tells him: “Those were my footprints and I was lifting you up.” When I look back on that time in my life I feel that God was with me in my hoop, lifting me up. Every time I stepped into my hoop, this sacred circle, God was there.

So what spiritual practices can you commit to this year? What practices give you joy and peace?

I would like to share a hoop dance that I created for CLAY this summer. You’ll hear me at the beginning and the other voice is my mom. I talked to my mom about worth and her faith and then included her words in the song I am dancing to.  I hope you enjoy.

 

Vestry Meeting Minutes

Vestry Minutes – 2014 Vestry Meeting held on Sunday February 22, 2015

1) Opening Prayers
The Rev. Mark Gladding opened the meeting in prayer at 12:00PM

2) Appointment of Vestry Clerk
Stephanie Goddard was appointed as the vestry clerk. Lynne White made the motion. Carried

3) Acceptance of Minutes of Vestry meeting on Feb. 23, 2014
It was moved by Rebecca Wang and seconded by Mary Pataki that that the reading of the minutes from the Vestry meeting on Sunday February 23, 2014 be dispensed with, and that they be accepted as printed in the annual report. Carried.

4) Acceptance of Reports
It was moved by Bea Evans and seconded by Grace King that the reading of the reports to vestry be dispensed with, and they be accepted as printed in the Annual Report. All were in favour. Carried.

5) Presentation and Acceptance of Churchwarden’s 2014 Financial Report and Financial Statements
Rev. Mark highlighted the increases in a power point presentation and discussed the positive things that happened in 2014. He discussed the faithworks increase and mentioned that another speaker would visit us this year. MAF grant allowed us to do many things. Bequests of $52,800. We finished the year with a surplus. There were no questions about the 2014 financials.

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