Rev. Dr. A. Leonard Griffith – 1920-2019

We are saddened by the loss of a wonderful mentor and friend, the Rev. Dr. A. Leonard Griffith who slipped away early Sunday morning. Leonard was one of the greatest preachers to ever grace the pulpits of this land. His keen insights into both Scripture and the human experience, his remarkable memory, and his deep devotion to Christ and the church endeared him to so many. So great was his following that more than twenty books of his collected sermons were published.

In his sixties Leonard entered the classroom to teach the skill he had mastered and I was blessed to be there for every course he taught, never missing a class. He was so kind to me. He introduced me to his great friend, John Gladstone and then to Kerr Spiers – my two predecessors. And he preached at so many great occasions at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church and in my own life and ministry. He also gave the inaugural lecture and sermon of the Lester Randall Preaching Fellowship.

Janet and I dropped in on Leonard a few weeks ago, only a day or two shy of his 99th birthday. His mind was alert. His faith was strong and he was as inquisitive as ever. But there was one thing there was no question about, the care and support of his family. He expressed great gratitude for their love. And so our prayers today are with his wife Merelie, and his daughters Mary Griffith and Anne Rutherford and their families.

A Memorial Service will be held at St. Paul’s Bloor St., (Anglican) on Friday, May 10th at 11 a.m.
Thank you dear friend.
Rest in peace, rise in glory.

A Prayer on the Ides of March

We woke up today to the horrific news of shootings in two mosques in Christ Church, New Zealand in which at least 49 people were killed during Friday prayers. These terrorist acts are evil and as Christians we must stand in solidarity with any group of people whether religious or not who come under such attack. And we must work and pray for the day when love is the law in every heart and concern for one another erases all fear, and united as one we find peace for all beneath the shadow of God’s wings. I have written the following prayer which I invite you to pray with me. I also invite you to reach out to your Muslim friends and colleagues and tell them we are praying for their community.

A Prayer on the Ides of March 2019

The heart of humanity aches this day
for those who only went to pray
to God in their week’s most sacred hour
to be gunned down by a malevolent power

There are times when a crime defies any rhyme
or reason apart from what it is in a word
Sin! But who let it in?
Hate! And who took its poison bait?
Evil! Who listened to that Devil?

O God, we all do when in one way or another
we close ourselves to the sister or brother
and even the Christ in a stranger’s guise
and look instead through fearful hateful eyes.

O let the rain fall down and the thunder sound
and remind us we’re on holy ground.
Wash away all pride from deep within
let the burning bush consume all sin
cleanse our soul and unite our hearts
and give this world a fresh new start
that all might sense your grace
without regard for creed or race
and see you smile on every face.
For you O God are love.

In this spirit we pray for all who grieve
for loved ones lost so suddenly and senselessly.
May they hear in the midst of the storm
your still small voice of calm.
We pray for those wounded too,
for medical teams and first to the scenes,
To the nation of New Zealand and the people of Islam
bring a peace that passes not away.

We pray for this world.
O God, let there be light all through this night
Give love the last word and make things right.
May your kingdom come and your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
For you O God, are love.
JPH 15-03-19

Grace and Peace,

Upon Seeing our First Grandchild for the First Time

For weeks she’s been told to hurry her birth
then eleven days past maximum girth
Abigail stole our hearts without a word
cooing softly. Beautiful baby bird
with angel wings took flight from womb to light
awakening us all to end of night.

JPH 05-01-19

Welcome Abigail Susan Holmes born in Toronto on January 5, 2019 at 6 a.m. weighing 7 lbs 11 ounces. Congratulations to mom and dad, Michelle and Jamie Holmes!

Saints in Stained Glass

Saints are often compared to stained glass in a church – people through whom the light of God shines. A visit to the Art Zone Glass Studio recently gave members of the Yorkminster Park Baptist Church Stained Glass Window Committee a deeper appreciation for the process of the artistry in creating a stained glass window.

First the glass is blown and then cut into hundreds of pieces and assembled in a jigsaw format according to a grand design with each piece doing its part. Then the glass is further prepared with an acid etching that provides variations to the colour. Eventually it is painted or stained and fired in a kiln before the lead is applied to bond the pieces as one. It is only after all of this handiwork is hung in a window frame and the light pours through that someone will notice the likeness to a saint.

The saintly side of our beings often comes to light only after such a process. The Spirit breaths life and the vine is cut and pruned that it might bear fruit. Some of our colour has to fade and much that is black and white needs to be shaded with love and grace. And no one of us can do it without the others. We are all part of something so much greater than our individual selves – the body of Christ. And Christ’s is the light that bonds us together bringing beauty and love to light.

I look forward to the completion of a new window, but mostly I look forward to the fullness of God’s life and light revealed in the body of Christ.

Grace and Peace


Prayers for the Jewish Community in Pittsburgh

In Luke 4:16 we read, “When Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom.”

Whenever I visit a synagogue I quietly remind myself that it was in such a place as this that Jesus was raised and worshipped. Jesus was Jewish. The thought of someone opening fire on a House of Worship of any kind is appalling, but that it has happened in a Jewish synagogue is so close to home for all Christians.  What happened today is a disgrace.

On our pilgrimages we have had some remarkable and deeply spiritual experiences in Jewish Synagogues and Temples including a Jewish Temple in Pittsburgh. Always we have been welcomed with such warmth and grace. My heart goes out to the Tree of Life congregation in Pittsburgh and to all our Jewish neighbours, friends and neighbouring congregations. Your entire community is in our prayers. Shalom.


Still chewing on a toxic weed
with nothing else on which to feed
at only an inch or two in length
predator ants will test its strength

Then for ten days it closes its eyes
and as a chrysalis all but dies
yet only a few short weeks to go
till it takes flight for Mexico.

If this caterpillar can cross the sea
what is holding back you and me?
so let the monarch show us the way
to life abundant and God’s new day
JPH 03-09-18

(We recently caught our first glimpse of the Monarch caterpillars on a hike around the Island Lake Conservation Area near Orangeville – lovely hike).

Conversations with a Monarch


A butterfly landed on my shoe
I wasn’t sure just what to do
But then the monarch said to me,
“I’ve come along to walk with thee”

But why would it walk when it could fly?
So here was I wondering, ‘Why?’
But then the monarch said to me,
“I’ve really come to set you free.”

A butterfly landed on my chest
with a broken wing it needed rest.
Again not sure just what to do
It smiled and said, “I died for you.”

Now I hold it closer to my heart
Yet still not sure just where to start.
A mere insect speaks with me?
Silly me, lost in a mystery

A butterfly landed on a tree
perched on a leaf right next to me
saying, “Feed and cling to the life,
when all about you death is rife,

For come what may, one day you will die
But then you will rise up and fly!”
It closed its wings as if to pray,
And in an instant flew away.

So grounded, wounded, I still may be
Yet now I will cling to the tree
Feed from love’s sweetest flower
Trusting heaven’s higher power.

JPHolmes 08/08/18



Now’s the season of the sunflower
living in the sunlight hour by hour
gently they turn and follow its way
forever open to God’s new day

As a choir singing from the same page
sunflowers unite fully engaged
looking up and never looking down
beaming forth joy neath love’s gold crown

There’s a lesson here for you and me
If only we’ll take the time to see
the meaning of life is in the Son,
to live in Christ’s love till day is done.

JP Holmes  08/08/18

Special thanks to the Raschle Family whose ‘pick your own sunflower’ field just east of Hanover, (Grey County), Ontario offers beauty and inspiration to all who pass by and especially to those who stop.  And to think they offer the money in the donation box to charity.  How wonderful!  So glad we stopped.

p.s. They even leave a pair of scissors to help you cut!

Sointula Blessings

In the midst of a west coast heatwave we visited Malcolm Island off the north-east shore of Vancouver Island and stayed in a seaside cabin outside the village of Sointula – a world away from all things overheated. In fact the island almost has its own little micro-climate.

The season of foggy mornings which the locals have long referred to as the month of Frogust arrived a few weeks early this year. The fog burns off by noon most days, but while hiking the 4 km Beautiful Bay Trail the forest canopy offered a continuous refreshing drizzle. The forest was coloured in a thousand shades of green as it weaved along the shoreline. The sound of the waves was in the air though glimpses of the Queen Charlotte Straight were few and far between. The pebbled beach below the trail is particularly popular with orcas often seen surfacing to rub their bellies on the smooth stones. The beauty, wonder and mystery that marked the way made the long journey seem less so.

Malcolm Island was settled more than a century ago by Finns pursuing a utopian dream. The very name Sointula means place of harmony. We all need Sointulas in our lives. The family, the church, the nearby park, and the company of friends should all be places of harmony offering an emotionally and spiritually refreshing micro-climate along life’s way. How blessed we are by the sointulas of life.

Tzouhalem Morning

Tzouhalem Morning

There’s a sweetness to the forest
underfoot and in the air,
when the wind creates a chorus,
and the birdsong sounds a prayer.

How the fragrance of the backwood
makes one suddenly aware
of all that yet is still so good
though one’s life may seem unfair

And if you reach that distant ledge,
remove shoes and look around,
you’re right above the ocean’s edge,
Mount Tzouhalem’s holy ground.

JPH 25/07/18

(Janet and I have hiked to the cross on Mt. Tzouhalem once or twice on every summer visit to Vancouver Islamd going back to when the children were very young.)