Easter is long past, and Pentecost is nigh upon us. Ascensiontide, in which we are in, is perhaps the loveliest season of all, as it anticipates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples in that upper room as they cower and wonder what next. As it confirms what we know: Jesus Christ is Lord of Heaven and Earth: and King of all creation. I love the season, and all that goes with it.
I spent three days last week in Toronto at a conference the topic of which was the writings of St. John of Damascus, who wrote in the sixth century in Damascus and Jerusalem. Susan asked the question you might well ask: ‘Why on earth would you need to study his writings? What can he have to tell you?’.
It turned out that the person who offered the lectures was a Russian Orthodox priest and a scholar of considerable renown on the subject: and he made this rather obscure Church Father come alive and become pertinent. John of Damascus’ writings were made fresh and insightful – and profoundly wise to us as Christians. It was, and this is why I bring this up, moving and provoking to be reminded that the truths which we seek to adhere to today, in the face of much confusion and mistruth, were equally struggled with and passionately defended 1400 years ago.
Which is to say that the reason I perceive this church to be still standing on this hill 175 years later is precisely because she has something to proclaim to a world in very deep need of substantial truth. And we offer such truth to a world much more given to accepting passing fancies: until they hear substantial realities offered. That is my perception, at any rate. Whether it is a comment on a sermon I have given, or a remark made at Youth Group, or a query in a counselling session: the sense I have is that there is a hunger for real ‘news’, and not simply more ‘fake’ stuff. And of this, I do not mean to invoke American politics. I think people are wondering, in the face of such calamity which is almost becoming the norm: is there anything we can hold on to? The answer, I believe, is ‘absolutely yes!’
And we have it, in Jesus Christ Our Lord.
And so, whether it is with the Sunday School: with Mallory Clow now taking up the mantle of leadership for which we are so grateful; or the newly formed Youth Group, who meet on Friday evenings here in the Parish Hall and have recently assisted Paul Elsley with his food ministry at the North End public Schools, there is Good News to share and offer. Or it might be the study group which just finished at John Barron’s home, or the one to begin next Sunday (Supper and Study 27 May 6 pm) as we look at that profoundly confusing last book of the New Testament, Revelation. It might be through the Prayer Walks which we will be resurrecting in the next week or two, as we intentionally take a saunter through our communities here in the East side of Kingston, and pray for and see the communities around us – and perhaps their needs. Or perhaps sharing a laugh and a smile at the last Coffee House this month, or at the Lilac Tea in June. Or even joining in the sack race at the Parish Picnic as we say farewell to (very recently promoted Lt. Colonel!) Levon and Amber Bond and Henry and Elliot, whom we will miss very much indeed: we have Good News. Lots of it. And we need to offer it to what is around us: for the world is in deep need of Hope.
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