Sunday, 30 September 2012

Welcome Back to Church!

Welcome to Back to Church Sunday!

What is Church?
Is it the building? No. That’s why we call the place where we gather an Oratory - which means "place of prayer."
Is it the people? Yes. And we gather together as Church in order to encounter the living God in Word, Sacrament and in each other. 

The gathered church is a place where we come to discover and explore the purpose and meaning of life.

The gathered Church is a place where we come to encounter Jesus Christ risen and alive. 

The gathered Church is a community that seeks to serve the needs of others. 

The call of Back to Church Sunday is really a call Back to Life.

- the church is place to come to get your life together.
- the church is a place where there are hypocrites, and there is always room for one more!
- the church is a place where you can wear whatever kind of clothes you want to wear.
- the church is a place where it is ok to doubt and not necessarily believe the same things.
- the church is a place for men, women, children, old and young.
- the church is a place where your past is forgiven.
- the church is a place where it is ok to not be ok.
- the church is not about religion as much as it is about relationship.

To be Church is to…have a heart and mind that is changing and maturing in Christ. It is to be in relationship with God and one another. It is to be reaching out in love and care to a hurting and broken community and world. 

Lets change our hearts and minds and give them to the Love that is Christ.
Let us make His Love known.
Let us change our families, communities and  world for good.

Welcome back to Church!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Does Religion cause War?

There is so much war and conflict in our world. Every time we turn on the news, there is conflict, death and destruction somewhere. And often time it seems to have some kind of religious connection. One of the headlines over the last week has been the violent protests in parts of the Muslim world in reaction to a Western film about Mohammad.

War and violence stems from Ideological Extremists in every area of human community - extremist religious or secular ideology, extremist political or economic ideology. History shows us examples of extremism from all of these areas.

Extremism is about being closed minded. Extremism is about seeing oneself as different or superior than another. Extremism is about being threatened by that which is different that oneself.

Extremism does not only play itself out on the world stage of politics and war, it plays itself out in families, schools, workplaces and communities with "emotional" violence and abuse towards those who may seem different from "us" or who do not think like "us."

The remedy for all forms of extremism is to seek to become more open minded. "Open Minded" is a spiritual or inner stance, where a person learns to go deeper inside themselves, to become more aware of your own inner issues that need to be acknowledged and healed. In the process of becoming more "at home" within ourselves, not only will we find that we are less threatened by that which is different from us, but we will also become more aware of the One Source of Life that we all share and live out of. We will become more aware that we are in fact One and Equal in God's Divine Life.

It is out of this center, this Holy Place, that each of us, one by one, will become agents of peace and transformation in our world.

Religion, at a deep and mature level, is not the source of war, but the way to peace.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Faith and Works

The Gospel calls us to come to know who Jesus Christ is, to deny our selves, and to follow Him in our service to others. 

To do this requires faith, and it requires hard work.

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?” (James)

Faith is not…
Faith is not simply saying that one believes in Jesus.
Faith is not simply going to the liturgy with the church.
Faith is not simply saying prayers.

If this is all faith is to you, then it is a dead faith.

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?…faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”

Faith is …
Faith is an inner consent to that Life which is bigger than we are.
Faith is a saying yes to the life of Christ within us and amongst us.

Faith brings us to the point of being able to say with St.Paul that it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.

Faith causes us to seek to serve Christ in every single other person we encounter.

Faith and Works
So once we come to the realization that Christianity is not just about what we think and say, but also about what we do, our WORKS, then I would like to suggest that there are at least two modes of how we carry out Christ’s works: individually and corporately.

At home, in our work places, when we are out in the community getting on with our personal lives, we are to acknowledge and respond to Christ in all whom we meet.

In addition to living out our faith in our individual lives, we also need to be involved in the “works” of our local church. 

It is not enough for you to come in here on a Sunday morning, say your prayers, and to leave without doing something to contribute to our shared work in serving the needs of others. 

“Financial” support of our Work
To do the ministry and work that we are involved in, yes, it requires your proportional and consistent financial support. 

“Personal Gift” support of our Work
We all have different gifts, and we all have “A” gift. Whether it be music, visiting the shut in, preparing meals for the bereaved, serving in the café, operating the sound room, etc, we all have gifts to offer in our shared work of ministry.

“Time” support of our Work
In addition to your financial support, and the offering of your personal gifts, your TIME to share in our Corporate Work for Christ is absolutely crucial.

There is a lot of ministry happening in this parish. Therefore we need a lot of help.

Do you want a faith that is dead, or do you want a faith that is alive?
Do you want to belong to a church that is dead? Or to a church that is alive?

Then get yourself involved in the work that we do.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

We are all wounded and in need of healing

In the Gospel of Mark we read that “They brought to him a man who was deaf and who had an impediment in his speech.”

They brought to Jesus a person who was in need of healing. The truth is that every single one of us are in need of healing!

Woundedness comes in so many forms:
  1. Physically 
-       arthritis setting in.
-       backs giving out.
-       cancer eating at the body;
-       etc.
  1. Psychologically
-       anxiety
-       depression
-       mental illness
-       etc
  1. Emotionally
-       dealing with job loss;
-       the stress of having to relocate;
-       having to manage change;
-       broken relationships;
-       managing memories and experiences from our past.
-       Etc.
  1. Spiritually
-       life loosing meaning;
-       the empty ache at the core of our being;
-       restlessness.
-       Unhappiness.
-       Etc.

Every single human being is wounded in some way and is in need of healing!

Why the Church exists

The Church exists in order to “change” people.
The Church exists to heal humanity.

There is healing in the daily, loving relationships within the community of the church.
There is healing in the hearing of the Word of God.
There is healing in the worship.
There is healing with the holy oils that we use in the liturgy.
There is healing as we share in the Body and Blood of Christ.

My friends, Jesus heals!

And every single one of us has a role to play in this healing ministry of the Church.

First of all, let us recognize our own need for healing. Everyone here is broken in some way.

We need to acknowledge our own hurt and pain and invite the Lord to come along side.

As you worship with your heart, as you hear the Word of God, as you receive and participate in the Holy Eucharist, allow the Lord to work in your life and touch you and heal you in ways that only His Love can.

Secondly, as in our Gospel today, “They brought to Him a man who was in need of healing.”
As we experience the Lord’s healing love, we need to bring others to that experience.

What are you doing to encourage and bring others along to encounter Christ?
We should never tire of inviting others to come to our Sunday liturgy, café, or programs.
No greater gift can we give a friend than to meet the Lord of Life.


Open up your broken hearts and minds to the Lord of Life.
Let Him in.
Don’t be afraid.
Let Him love you.
Let His love touch your brokenness.
And may you know His Life in all its fullness.
Then bring along a friend to also meet the Lord of life.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

I am not worthy

As a parish priest, I encounter people from time to time who say to me that they "are not worthy to go to church."

The truth is that we have all done things in our lives that we are sorry for or that we need to be sorry for. We all make mistakes, and it is important that we do have some sense of guilt for harm that we cause to others and ourselves. But once we work through our guilt, do what we can do on our part for reconciliation, and seek to adjust and change, then we move forward with a new beginning.

Will we keep on making mistakes? Yes. But hopefully we are becoming more self aware in the process, and therefore becoming less judgemental of others. As we recognize our own need for understanding, compassion and forgiveness, then we should be developing a greater awareness of non-judgemental compassion towards others.

In other words, as I experience more and more the power of the Cross of Christ in my own life, I should be becoming a more forgiving person towards all others.

Some say "Because I make mistakes in my life, then I am not worthy to go to church." Not true.
Others say "Because the church is filled with people who make mistakes, I don't want to be part it." Shouldn't be true.

Because you are not perfect, you should be coming to church in order to experience the power and wonder of God's love and forgiveness. And as you become part of this healing process, you can become part of the reaching out to and the necessary healing of those around you.

Richard Rohr writes that "religion's main job is to reconnect us to the Whole, to ourselves, and to one another - and thus heal us." No matter what mistakes we've made in our lives, at a deeper level of consciousness, we are in fact not separate from God nor from one another.

You are worthy to come to church. The church needs you. The world needs a compassionate and non-judgemental Church.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Our Thoughts Matter

Is there more to our lives than just the routines and rules of our jobs? Of our responsibilities at home?
Is there more to being Church than sitting through liturgy?

External Ritual (Mark 7:1-5)
“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders?” 

The religious leaders of the day are asking Jesus why he does not keep all of the traditions and rituals.

External tradition, rituals, or rules are necessary in any and all forms of organization and community life. But, if we are to live more meaningful lives, there has to be more than just the “rules.” 

The “Disconnect”
“this people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (v.6)

Jesus contrasts the disconnect between the external life and the inner life, and challenges us to give priority to what is going on inside of us.

The call to LEARN the way of Jesus
“hear me all of you, and understand…” (v.14)

In order to develop a spiritual life, and for it to mature in such a way that our “outer lives” will flow more naturally out of our spiritual lives, we need to learn to understand the way of life that Jesus is teaching us through practices like Bible study, Christian education programs, worship, the practice of meditation, serving the needs of others.


What is “within” is what defiles
“Nothing that enters one from the outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” (v.15)

Attitudes, words, and behaviours are reflections of what is going on inside of us. “From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts….and they defile.” (v.21)

The inner life, spiritual life, is the life of our THOUGHTS!
The Lord is calling us to learn to get a handle on our thoughts!

Christian life is firstly a commitment to the inner, spiritual life.
An inner life that is directed by the Spirit of God.
An inner life that is filled with freedom and love.
An inner life that reflects itself in lives that are compassionate, merciful, filled with joy, peace and love.
An inner life that reflects Jesus Christ in what we think, what we say and what we do.