Friday, July 16, 2010

You Did Not Choose Me, I Chose You - A Reflection for St. Benedict's Day, 2010

This past week, we celebrated the feast day of St. Benedict, a great father of Western monasticism. What follows is a reflection on the text of the day, John 15:12-17, and the words of Jesus, "You did not choose me, I chose you."

You did not choose me, I chose you.

Putting aside the debates of the Reformation on predestination and double-predestination (and any other kind of predestination!), these words of our Lord give us pause to consider the purpose of all our pious striving. Ah, how often we forget that it is not our longing for God that has brought us to this place, but God’s longing for us! You did not choose me, I chose you. And yes, while any relationship requires a mingling of the “yeses” of delight in one another, may we never forget that God’s “yes” is the affirmation in which all our hope is grounded. Every “yes” that builds up the commonwealth of God’s gracious rule, and points forward to the perfect day in which all things are gathered together in God, is a “yes” that finds its animation and liveliness in the “yes” God exudes for the whole of his creation and for his people.

On St. Benedict’s Day, a day in which consider the gift of that great father of monasticism, we might very well be drawn to exhort ourselves to deeper fulfillment of the two pillars of his thought, obedience and prayer. Without a doubt, the ordering of our spiritual landscape through a devoted pattern of daily prayer is a joy without peer. Oh, the labour of it all when we have yet to take it up! And oh, the labour of it all when we have let our obedience to the discipline slip! But oh, the joy when we, having failed in prayer, again offer the rhythm of our lives once again to our creator, when we sit in the presence of the one who calls us by name, and when we sing the praise of Christ our God. Oh, the times I have failed in prayer, but oh, the times I have found my home again in God. So, on this day we may choose to exhort ourselves to a recommitment to the vows we have made to be obedient unto a life ordered prayer, but perhaps, just perhaps, there is another more profound recommitment we can make.

You did not choose me, I chose you.

With these words of Jesus ever resting on our hearts, let us hear again to the depths of being the passionate “yes” that God has uttered to us, both as his people and as his individual and well-beloved children. No relationship can be sustained alone on promises made long ago -- our vows begin a life in community; they do not complete it. Frail creatures that we are, again and again we need to hear the words, “I love you,” and again and again, we need to offer from the depths of our own being the words, “and I love you.” And of course, through the changes and chances of this fleeting life, through good times and bad, we bear one another, as St. Paul says, in that same love. On this day, let us recommit ourselves to listening once again to that word of love, “You did not choose me, I chose you!”

The discipline of love may seem difficult and wearying through certain valleys and roads of our common life. Yet, it is always to be remembered that the perfect love of God draws us along in the moments we take to be our greatest failures in love. So, too, it is with the rhythm of obedience we call prayer. Thus, we can be thankful for the words of Jesus, “you did not choose me, I chose you.” These words set me free from my failure to love and my failure to pray. More profoundly, though, I am more than freed, I am loved; and that love enlivens me to love and to pray. Thus, my greatest failure is my greatest hope because God in Christ is faithful in love, choosing me again and again, choosing you again and again, and in that never-failing love, there is hope for us all.

c. 2010, the Rev. Daniel F. Graves

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bishop William Hockin appointed Interim Priest-in-charge of Holy Trinity Church

I am pleased to announce that our area Bishop, the Rt. Rev. George Elliott, has appointed the Rt. Rev. William Hockin, the Eighth Bishop of Fredericton (ret.) as Interim Priest-in-charge of Holy Trinity Church, effective September 1st, 2010. Bishop Hockin’s first Sunday with us will be September 5th.

Bishop Hockin received a licentiate in theology from the College of Emmanuel and St. Chad (Sask), in 1963, his BA from Waterloo Lutheran University in 1967 and holds three honorary doctorate degrees. He was ordained a deacon in 1962 and was priested in 1963. From 1962-1966 he was the Assistant Curate of All Saints’ Church, Windsor, ON, and later the rector of St. John’s Tillsonburg and St. Stephen’s Culloden, the Rector of St George’s London, and St. Paul’s Bloor Street. He also served as the chaplain to Havergal College from (1986-1993). In 1996 he left St. Paul’s Bloor Street to become the Dean of Fredericton and Rector of Christ Church Cathedral and in 1998 was elected co-adjutor bishop of Fredericton and in the year 2000 became the eighth diocesan bishop of Fredericton. He retired in 2003.

Bishop Hockin is married to Isabelle, and they are looking forward to moving into the area in late August and joining us in September.

Fr. Dan

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Farewell to the Canon

This past Sunday, Canon Greg Physick, the rector of Holy Trinity Church in Thornhill retired after recently celebrating thirty-five years in Holy Orders. Canon Greg served at Holy Trinity for nearly five years, after a lengthy incumbency at St. Matthew-the-Apostle, Oriole (in Willowdale). He had also been the rector of St. Francis-of-Assisi, Mississauga, St. Paul's, Pickering, and began his ministry as Assistant Curate of St. Clement's, Eglinton. It was a privilege and a pleasure for me to serve first as his Assistant Curate, and latterly as his Associate Priest. I learned much from the Canon, specifically, about loving and caring for the people of God. The thing most to be admired about the Canon, though, is his love of being a priest of the Church. Whether it is at the altar as he offers up the sacred mysteries or as he visits the sick and "shut-in" of the Church bringing them the sacrament of our Lord's body and blood, his joy of ministry is always evident and brimming over for all to see. I have long believed that a priest of the Church should exude the joy of the gospel and of our Lord, and Canon Greg certainly exudes this joy in extravagance. The Canon lives out the sort of priestly vocation that never goes out of style, but is always central to ministry, namely a passionate love of God and care for God's people. Whatever trends of ministry may come and go, this sort of ministry endures. The Church continues to be blessed in having such a fine priest amongst its college of presbyters.

He now moves on into retirement, and with time, new ways to live out his priestly vocation. After three wonderful years together, it was an emotional goodbye for both of us. I am happy to continue to regard him as a beloved father-in-God and treasured friend. Thank you for all you have shared with me and for all I learned from you, my friend. Enjoy your well-earned retirement.