Winning Entry The Parish Float won First Place Prize in the Upper Miramichi Rural Community Parade. The float depicted the Nativity Scene and featured young people and children from the Parish. CONGRATS EVERYONE!
The Sunday School Concert was held Sunday, December 29 and was a big success. It included music performed by the children, parishioners and guests. The Nativity Story was told as a Miramichi event through narration and photography featuring the children and local settings. A grand reception was held following the concert. All this happened despite some very bad winter weather.
On December 1, pictures were taken at Evertt Taylor's barn, for the manger scene of our Sunday School and Youth Presentatioin. This is only part of a Miramichi telling of the Nativity Story to be presented at St. James Church on December 22 at 6:00 P.M. STAY TUNED!
Thelma Price receives Certificate of Congratulations and Thanks for more than fifty years of service as a member of the ACW (Anglican Church Women). Well deserved and well done, Thelma! Happy Birthday too on November 30!
Great thanks to all who participated in the Christmas Shoe Box program. These efforts on our part help to make someone else's Christmas a joyful experience.
All Soul's The Parish enjoyed a beautiful celebration of All Souls Day At St. James the greater, Ludlow on Sunday November 3. Family members participated in the lighting of votive/memorial candles for loved ones who had died this past year. After a celebration of the Holy Eucharist, a meal was provided in the church hall.
The whole event was a wonderful opportunity for all who have lost loved ones this past year to come together in worship and in community. All Souls Day, like All Saints, reminds us that the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ in this world and the next.
June 8, 2014
I said last Sunday that the way Jesus is present in the Church is through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not among us the way he was among the first disciples when in ministered in Galilee and Judea. He is not among us in the way in which he appeared to the disciples in the forty days after the resurrection. He has ascended into heaven, as he said he would. He is among us through the presence of the Comforter, the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth.
The Holy Spirit rested upon the first disciples on the Day of Pentecost, as we hear in the reading from Acts. He was manifested as tongues of fire over the Apostles’ heads and they spoke languages that day that none of them knew. There are sometimes these great manifestations of the Spirit, with gifts of prophesy, of healing, of signs of God’s presence. These manifestations are to be desired but they are never for the sake of themselves but for some deeper purpose. They infuse a sense of God’s presence, of God’s love. They infuse in us a love for God. Sometimes, as on the Day of Pentecost, they are for purposes of communication. The languages the Apostles spoke were not so that they could show off linguistic ability but so they could communicate with the foreigners who had gathered that day around them. The gift of tongues that day was a great sign of the unity of humanity, that people of different languages and cultures can be unified in truth and love under God. Just as the Tower of Babel failed because it was a city where man was the center, Pentecost succeeds because God is the center of the experience. A human race unified without God is a people in sin. A human race unified in God is a new creation in Christ. On the Day of Pentecost we get a glimpse of that new creation.
Before the Day of Pentecost, the Apostles were just a band of disciples; after Pentecost, they were a Church. Hence the story of Pentecost begins the Book of Acts. We need to all become Pentecostals. I don’t mean we all need to join Pentecostal denominations: I mean we need to be renewed in the Spirit; we need to be people of the Spirit. We need to be people who born again, born of the Spirit, people who have experienced the work of Christ in our hearts, who are committed in faith and action to Christ, as we promised in baptism. We need to live the promises and the gifts of our baptism. That is what five of our young people are committing to do next week at their Confirmation. That is what several adults are committing to do by re-affirming the promises they made at Baptism and Confirmation. These are acts of renewal, allowing ourselves to be renewed in faith by the power of the Holy Spirit and in these cases with the apostolic rite of the Laying on of Hands.
The Church needs renewal. The Church is not simply the clergy. It is not our building --- the Church is the community of faith created by the action and power of the Holy Spirit. That is what we see in the Book of Acts and in the Letters of the New Testament, in Jerusalem, in Corinth, in Ephesus, in Rome, in Galatia. There is no Church apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in people, in you and me. There is no church in the world apart from people with Christ living in them and acting in his name.
We have seen a horrible event unfold in Moncton this past week, a tragedy which did not need to be. Over and over again, we see the same kind of story being told, often involving young people without criminal pasts. We need to be very troubled by it. What kind of spirit is taking root in the hearts of many people, that they are so disillusioned, so angry, so confused, so full of hate that they want to hurt or destroy someone? THERE ARE CAUSES BUT THERE ARE NO EXCUSES FOR THESE ACTIONS. Let’s be clear: anger, hatred, rebellion and anti-authority attitudes, and murder come not only from the heart of man, but from the heart of sin and they leave in their wake tragedy and destruction. We want to label these things as mental illness and emotional instability and there is no doubt that our society is afflicted by mental illness and psychological disorders, but there is more at work here. We are trying to create a society without God, and a society without God is a society falling into chaos. It is the Tower of Babel and the center cannot hold. That is what we see throughout so much of our society and in so many individual lives – the center is not holding.
We need a renewal of the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit, a new Pentecost and we need that renewal to sweep beyond the doors of the Church into society, teaching and informing people’s conscience. We need to inform our conscience; we need to listen to our conscience – we cannot be swept about by every passion or feeling that enters our souls – that is chaos. And if we are full of anger and bitterness, rebellion, rage and hatred, we need to seek help from God and from other human beings. Paul writes to the Galatians: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. If we live by the Spirit, let us walk by the Spirit.” Let us walk by the Spirit.
Everyone has to ask himself: “What kind of Spirit is indwelling in me?” WHAT KIND OF SPIRIT IS INDWELLING IN YOU?
Fr. Brian Spence
How can any joy compare to the joy of the women who went to Jesus’ tomb on the third day only to discover not a body but that Jesus had been raised from the dead? Mathew’s Gospel today bursts with the energy of the resurrection. There is an earthquake as an angel descending from heaven rolls back the stone so the women can enter the tomb.
Belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead changes our whole perspective on the world. That is what Peter is saying in his sermon to the Gentiles in Acts 10. In that moment Peter himself was experiencing something new, that God’s love and favor was not just for Israel but for all peoples. He tells them the story of the Christ: his teaching, his healings, his ministry and how he was crucified, but God raised him from the dead. And he says to them: “All who believe in him receive forgiveness of sin through his name.”
That does change everything. Our sins can be forgiven. The wrong that we do can be forgotten by God, our lives wiped clean. That is part of the great promise of Easter. Death and the fear of death, which are the enemies of life, are conquered. Jesus has vanquished the power of hell. He descended into hell to break its power through divine love. He gives to us a new sense of life, not just life in the here and now, but eternal life. We are meant for more than we experience in this mortal life; our lives and existence are more important to God than the brief time we are here in this world.
Jesus’ whole life and ministry was about intimacy with God. He loved people so deeply because of his intimacy with the Father. He points us to the Father and his relationship with the Father. Through his teaching and example, he helps us to cut through what is unimportant in life and to have the right priorities. On Maundy Thursday, he washes the feet of his disciples as he tells us that those who would be great must have the heart of service. He tells them, “Don’t lord over one another; look after one another with mutual caring.” Don’t be takers primarily but be givers – have the spirit of generosity. Don’t be harsh with others, have compassion. Seek to let compassion temper all your dealings with others. Don’t live focused on the things of this world, like they are most important. They will fade and decay. You can’t hold onto them. Only God can weather the storms of time. Only God can take us beyond the pains, losses and border of death.
The disciples suffered the greatest loss, loss of someone they deeply loved and depended on. We can imagine their despair. We know Judas killed himself. Peter was filled with grief and shame. There were probably recriminations among them; they were probably blaming one another and they were sad and afraid. The whole world had crashed in on them. And then came the message of the women. “He is alive!” “We don’t know how, but he is alive!” What he said has come true. God has raised him on the third day. Go to Galilee, for there you will see him.” And they did and the whole world changed for them and over time for millions of others.
Jesus is alive, as he said! For roughly two thousand years people have been experiencing the risen Christ through the power of his Spirit. Lives have been renewed, the brokenhearted comforted, souls and bodies healed, hope planted where there was no hope, and the course of history changed in many, many ways. What our society most needs is to discover the full meaning of faith in the crucified and risen Jesus. It would raise us from this culture of misery and death from which so many suffer and it would give new purpose, new energy, new hope to deal with today’s problems. Why? – because the rabbi from Galilee, crucified two thousand ago, raised from the dead, is the Son of God, now and forever. And he loves his creation and his people, the sheep of his pastures as truly today as he did when we walked on this earth.
Fr. Brian Spence
The introductory words to tonight’s liturgy tell us that tonight we celebrate the Passover of the Lord. And the great Easter hymn, the Exsultet, tells us that this is our Passover feast when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain, whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers. This is meant is summon images of the Passover in ancient Egypt when the people of Israel under the leadership of Moses were saved from slavery. The houses of the Israelites were marked with the blood of the Passover lamb so that the angel of death would pass over them. So it is with us. In the words of the Exsultet “This is the night when Christians everywhere, washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement, are restored to grace and together grow in holiness. This is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave. Father, how wonderful your care for us! How boundless your merciful love! To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.”
These words sum up the message of Easter. Through the cross and resurrection of Jesus, we are washed free of sin, restored by grace, and the doors of heaven are opened to us. Death, which is the consequence of sin in the world, is the final prison, the final enslaver. It is not only death itself but the fear of death that imprisons us. Sin causes us to narrow our vision, to limit ourselves and our hopes to this world. The resurrection of Jesus tells us that God has so much more for us.
The Exsultet bursts with the energy and joy of the resurrection. All of creation is called to rejoice. “Rejoice heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels! Exult all creation around God’s throne! Jesus Christ, our king, is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation! Rejoice, O earth, in shining spendour, radiant in the brightness of your King! Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkness vanishes forever! Rejoice, O Mother Church, exult in glory! The risen Saviour shines upon you! Let this place resound with joy, echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!
The whole of creation is meant to be filled with new life. It is a happy circumstance that the Easter season parallels spring and the new life of spring. After a winter like the one we have experienced, every one of us is probably thirsting for spring and the renewal of nature. This renewal is a token of the total renewal of creation that the resurrection of Jesus brings.
Let this place resound with joy! Do we feel that joy? “For Christ has ransomed us with his blood and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our eternal Father.” Only Jesus can conquer the power of sin and the devil! Only Jesus can restore creation to its wholeness. What a Passover; what a Passover Lamb! Jesus came into Jerusalem those fateful days to give new meaning to everything. Let us consecrate our churches, our homes, our lives with His Blood.
It is in this faith and power that we renew the church tonight. We have waited throughout Lent to prepare to celebrate this feast. We have waited and prepared ourselves through Holy Week, and through readings and prayer tonight. In a few minutes, we will prepare ourselves by renewing our baptismal promises. We renew ourselves through sign and sacrament tonight, through the energy of the new Fire, the light of the Paschal Candle, through the waters of baptism and through the bread and the wine of the Eucharist. Easter is our Passover! It is the heart and soul of our faith. Therefore, in earnestness and in joy, let us keep the feast.
Fr. Brian Spence