A Prayer For the Turning of the Year

Gracious God this past year reminded us again that we know not what a year or even a day may bring and we are aware that as we begin the new year the pandemic is still with us.  So grant that we may we not lose sight of your faithful blessings day by day, for we know that whatever lies ahead you are always with us.  Help us to trust you as we begin this new year and come what may, grant to us your peace which passes all understanding.  When bad news overwhelms us, keep our hearts open to all that is good in this world.  Thank you that even on the worst days of the pandemic there were so many kind hands making a difference and bright minds seeking solutions and you were there in the midst, for where love is, God is.  O Lord enter this new year with us, and draw us closer to yourself and to one another as a sign of that day when sickness and death will be no more, and all the masks and veils will be removed and we shall see you face to face and understand even as we have been understood, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

JPH 31-12-20

A Chanukah Grace

Early in the year a woman named Sonita made an appointment to visit our church in order to see our most recent stained glass window known as ‘The Creation Window – Let There Be Light.’  She was drawn to the window as it had been donated by a dear friend.  However, she also had a great knowledge and appreciation of stained glass and a heart open to the window’s theme.

We were somewhat taken aback a few months later when this same woman contacted us again wanting to offer a meaningful gift to our church in honour of the friendship and support given by the donor of the window to her late husband.  I was on medical leave during this time, but after conversations with Dale Rose and Ralph Neal, she decided to honour us and the particular member of our community with the gift of a new Communion Chalice.   

At Yorkminster Park we have been deeply moved by the offering of this gift, not only because the Sacrament of Communion is such an important part of our life and liturgy, but also because the one who gave it does not identify as a Christian.  The beautiful chalice was gifted to us by a devout member of a Jewish congregation, a congregation which also happens to be part of our Neighbourhood Interfaith Group.  One friend described the gift as a mitzvah.  To us it is also a grace.     

Neither by design nor coincidence the gift happened to arrive in my office on December 10th, the first day of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights.  This kind and meaningful gesture from a Jewish neighbour has reminded us in this time of darkness that we are all called to participate in God’s new creation by letting our light shine.  I pray this gift will forever speak to our church family of what it means to love God and one’s neighbour as oneself, and that it will inspire us to deeds of kindness and generosity. 

At our Christmas Day Communion service the chalice will be dedicated to the glory of God and with thanksgiving for the friendship of Rick Howson, and used in that same service for the Communion. 

And so to Sonita and all our Jewish friends and neighbours we wish you a Happy Chanukah and we thank you for letting the light of your faith and love shine in our community and world. 



Christmas Lights 2020



The lights are up and out of doors.
Three blue spruce shine as never before.
Packed in crates and sprouting doubt
the trees inside are down and out,
as are so many.  But up are the lights,
leading us out of the shadows of night.
Why keep the light inside under a bushel,
when outside an inn unassuming
burns still a bush unconsuming?
In this cold, covid winter stark,
God speaks into the chaos dark.
Light, oh let there be heavenly love.
The Word made flesh, down from above.
Holy human, full of acumen, divine.
So eat the bread, and drink the wine,
take off your shoes, fall on your knees.
God touched the earth and lit up the trees.

JPH 22-11-2020

Let There Be Light!

It was just over a year ago we had the joy and privilege of dedicating the long awaited Creation Window above our west gallery.   The spectacular stained glass window was crafted over a period of two years by the Kathryn and Jane Irwin of the Art Zone Studio to honour the late Betty Howson whose children funded the memorial window. 

The window is also called, ‘Let There Be light,’ from the first day of creation.  Wonderfully, the light often renders variations in the brightness of the reds and yellows and sharpness of the blues depending on the time of day and where the sun is in the sky.  At times it also casts those same colours onto the walls of the nave and up into the chancel depending on the time of year.   The colours dance and sing in sacred wonderment.

One evening last week as the sun was setting the Creation Window appeared to have been transformed.  So great was the variation that one might have thought the artists had returned to stain the glass with new colours, but of course the artist was God, the giver of light.  I pray the wonder and beauty of God’s light and love are reflected as well in our lives as we seek to follow the One who is the Light of the World.    

I was searching for just the right words to sum up the wonder of light when I came across a poem crafted by the British poet Malcolm Guite entitled Seven Whole Days.  While the poem was inspired by the George Herbert hymn, the first day or stanza of the poem almost seems to have been written for our window.  It is published in his book, Parable and Paradox, 2016 Canterbury Press.  Feast your hearts and eyes.

Let there be light as I begin this day,
To draw me from the darkness and the night,
To bless my flesh, to clear and show my way,
Let there be light.
Strong in the depth and shining from the height,
Evening and morning’s interplay,
Blessing and enabling my sight.
Lighten my soul and teach me how to pray,
Lighten my mind and teach me wrong from right,
In all I do and think and see and say
Let there be light. 

Malcolm Guite

Here is a video about the making of our Creation Window



Pray For Lebanon

Yorkminster Park Baptist Church has a longstanding partnership with the Baptist Church in Lebanon and its mission arm known as the Lebanese Society for Education and Social Development.   They do remarkable and inspiring work and have a strong presence in the city of Beirut which is suffering terribly this night after a massive explosion ripped through the heart of the city earlier today.  It has taken an extensive toll.   I received the following letter from our dear friend, Nabil Costa, the CEO of LSESD asking us to pray.  Let us endeavour to do so.
Dear Peter,

The massive blast that took place at the port of Beirut late in the afternoon today left an important part of the city laying in apocalyptic ruin. The rumble of the explosion was felt all the way to Cyprus.

Beirut looks like a war zone as the devastating shockwave shattered windows and vitrines sending debris and glass flying in all directions. Initial footage shows collapsed buildings and homes while the national wheat silos have been eviscerated. Hospitals are not able to cope with the number of injured and maimed while the Red Cross is in desperate need of blood donations. The number of casualties is not known at this stage but material losses are in the billions of dollars.

This calamity could not have come at a worse time for a country on the brink of financial collapse and social implosion while the number of coronavirus cases have surged in recent days.

The reasons behind the explosion are still unknown.

  • Please pray for those who have lost their homes and loved ones so that they may find comfort and healing.
  • Please pray for the doctors, nurses and paramedics who are caring for the injured.
  • Please pray for the rescue teams that are trying to find missing family members and neighbors.
  • Please pray for people who are in places of responsibility as they manage the catastrophic human and economic consequences.
  • Please pray for the Church as it seeks to comfort and serve the distressed and brokenhearted.
  • Please pray for the People of God as they seek the Lord and humbly cry out to Him for mercy.
  • Pray for LSESD/MEBO family of ministries and in specific for the Beirut Baptist School and the Gateway Bookshop, which suffered important material damage and for the staff who have been injured by the glass debris.

In Christ,

Nabil Costa
Chief Executive Officer

Photos of Damage to the Beirut Baptist School

Photos of Damage to the LSESD Gateway Bookshop.

Rise With Wings

Rise With Wings
That’s my friend Milton on the right
aside John Lewis, the channel of Light.
Where angels fear to tread went he,
a fool for Love ‘gainst bigotry, inequality…
Dear Milton let me to your coattails cling.
Hold tight to his and we’ll rise with wings!
JPH 28-07-20
My dear friend, Milton Eric Fletcher of Detroit, is pictured with Congressman John Lewis and Milton’s brother, Zaid. My friendship with Milton, and indeed Yorkminster Park’s friendship with Milton, goes back almost twenty years and includes many remarkable highlights. I am so grateful for Milton’s faithful calls and prayerful support during these days of recovery. Milton’s friendship with Congressman Lewis is also an inspiring story. God bless you Milton!  We can’t wait till the border reopens if only to see you again. 

O Chrysalid Monarch

A sphere of straws full of nectar draws
a thirsty monarch from the air.
Pedals bow in prayer for safe landing there
as flower’s cone ‘comes her crown to wear

O Chrysalid Monarch of the universe
you landed here to reverse the curse,
and bursting forth from death’s cocoon
opened us to Eden in love to commune.

JPH 28-07-20

A Flock of Hydrangeas

A flock of hydrangeas raise their heads
like bleating sheep in a garden bed.
Need to be sheared for a florist’s bouquet
and placed in the church next Lord’s Day.
So the shepherd takes a handful of yarn
and sends his lambs back to the barn.

JPH 16-07-20

The Neighbour’s Sprinkler

The neighbour’s sprinkler greets the dawn
and does far more than water the lawn.
Invites the children to frolic and play
on yet another hot summer’s day
and christens the world through prism light
with rainbow promises – all will be right.

JPH 12-07-20

Conversation with a Caterpillar

It lay there perfectly still
munching down upon the dill.
Slowly slithering towards cocoon,
it seemed to say, “Not so soon.
Time and rest, will heal your wound,
and turn this tomb into a womb.”
So I wait on the Spirit who knows the hour
when I will rise up by God’s power,
and the wind will blow open a door
and like the monarch I will soar!

JPH 11-07-20