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

Doubly Blessed

I have been thinking a lot about my dad these days. Ten days ago I visited his grave with Steve and Cheryl and my mom to mark the eighth anniversary of his passing. Yesterday was Father’s Day and today would have been his ninety-third birthday. He was born the morning after the longest day and like the midnight sun he lives on in our hearts. As I have been remembering him it hasn’t been one of his memorable sermons or his leadership of the church, but some of the tender moments shared between a father and son. The following verse was prompted by a recollection of the countless times we played catch – the mere thought brought a smile to my heart. I wrote the second poem a year ago, but thought it worth sharing again. Happy Birthday Dad and Happy Father’s Day too. You always were a double blessing.
I would often with dad play a game of catch
When throws missed the mark I’d go fetch
the ball, as dad would lean on his cane
letting me serve and not complain
mine was the joy, his was the pain
oh I’d play that game again
and again.
JPH 22-06-20
I drop by dad’s grave
and listen for the gravitas
of his character
that transcends the gravity
of our times.
He stood so tall
as he leaned on his canes
symbols of his courage
instruments of empathy.
And walking alongside
in shadowy times
you just knew
he knew
and when he prayed you believed.
I drop by dad’s grave
And touch the tomb
hoping something has rubbed off
and praying for more.
Seven years ago today we buried you Dad.
Still I hear your voice.
Thank you
Happy Father’s Day!

The Midnight Sun

The summer solstice arrives later this afternoon and with it the season of the midnight sun.  I wrote this poem for Anne Lindsay’s recent concert, ‘Songs of the Midnight Sun,’ which was webcast from the church last Sunday.  I was honoured to have my poem read there for the first time. 

I have put a link to the concert after the poem.

The Midnight Sun

At the dawn of the Midnight Sun
deeds of darkness shall come undone
and death at last shall lose its say
as all shall rest in light of day

The stinging tears of grief are gone
festering fears are silenced in song
nets are filled and the hungry fed
eternity rises in the breaking of bread

Streetlights at last shall be no more
As starlight of heaven opens a door
to a world where all shall live in love
and on earth shall be as heaven above

Come out of the shadows into the light
pick up your mat and make things right
living, forgiving with strength, with soul
kindness and tenderness heartedly whole

May this solstice offer a glimpse to see
Eternity always as yet it can be
alive in our hearts from this day forth
reaching east, west, south and north

O Light the darkness could not put out
help us to glow when gloamings about.
May the brightly hours of this midnight sun
live on in our hearts and make of us one.

JPH 12-06-20

Songs of the Midnight Sun featuring Anne Lindsay:

From Peter’s Pen YP Newsletter, June 2020

A glitch somewhere in cyberspace prevented my newsletter entry making it into the YP newsletter which came out today.  Here it is.

From Peter’s Pen

Lessons From the Waiting Room of Life
I am so grateful to God for the love and concern of the church family during this time of unexpected medical need. As I await my pending surgery your cards, messages and emails have come to mean a great deal to me. Thank you, but above all, thank you for keeping me in your prayers.

There has been a lot of waiting involved in this medical process and waiting is not my strong suit, but all of this has been a gentle reminder to live in the moment aware of God’s many blessings. While waiting I have been more or less quarantined, but this has not prevented me from being able to enjoy the sights and scents as spring has brought new colour to the garden day by day. Many of you have been quarantined too and are anxiously awaiting the arrival or a vaccine, or good medical news, or word about a job, or even just the opportunity to be with loved ones again. I hope that the arrival of summer boosts your spirits as well and that in the midst of this time you will be aware of God’s faithfulness each and every day and of his mercies which are new every morning.

Covid-19 has without question given rise to fears and has taken a toll on many, but it has also led to lower pollution levels, and opportunities to connect with old friends we had lost touch with in the busy times. While on a daily basis we must support and pray for those effected by the virus, those offering service in these times, and those seeking solutions, I also pray we come alive in new ways to many of the blessings that may have gone unnoticed in busier times.

I am also grateful to God for the medical solutions that are available to me and for the team that are caring for me. We live in a great country and part of what makes it great is the medical system we have and the countless staff at all levels who make it so wonderful. Previously I had never spent a night in the hospital in my life, but now I have seen first hand the incredible efforts 24/7.

One of the wonders of our health care system is that it has brought together some of the finest and most knowledgable professionals and workers from around the world. I was cared for by a team of doctors and nurses who had come to this country from far away places like Iraq, Iran, China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Jamaica. Each one was wise and compassionate, but they were also putting their lives on the line during these days of Covid-19.

I have been deeply disturbed, as we all have, by the reports of growing racism against Asians in response to the coronavirus. It is human nature when we are afraid to look for a scapegoat to blame, but this always makes things worse. In the midst of this there has been an explosion of tension in response to longstanding racism against African Americans south of the border. We may be on the other side of the border, but racism is real here too and we must stand and work against it.

Many in these Covid-19 days are suggesting that working from home as we have been doing since March may present a good alternative for the long term. While it cuts down on commute time thus eliminating many a traffic jam and offers companies significant savings on rent, we should be very cautious. The modern workplace brings people of many ethnicities together and offers them the opportunity to build relationships and friendships with people of different economic, cultural, and ethnic identities. Whereas working from home will rob us of these opportunities to put a face on other ethnicities and hear and value their traditions. In a world where we come and work together face to face we should be less prone to fear and prejudice.

In recent years we have had the privilege of visiting a First Nations reserve with a team of volunteers, but with Covid-19 there will be no Oneida experience this year. These opportunities also widen our understanding and appreciation of our indigenous neighbours. I pray our friends at Oneida and all our first nations peoples will remain close to our hears in this times and we will continue to build bridges of healing and understanding.

The church must stand against all racism, but at the same time, like the hospital we must be a community in which all people come together as a team. We too must work and serve together from east and west, north and south as one great fellowship born of the love of the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.

Corona Creativity
With all the talk and fear of the coronavirus we may have forgotten what a real corona is and I am not referring to a brand of beer. The corona is the bright pearly glow of the sun that only becomes visible during a total eclipse when like a crown it surrounds the dark face of the moon. It is the light that reminds us the sun is still with us during a time of sudden darkness. I pray the life and witness of our church is like the corona of the sun during these days of Covid-19 as we continue to bear witness to the risen Christ.

We are so grateful for the gift of webcasting that was made to the church more than ten years ago and the manner in which David King and his team have been able to strengthen this ministry during these days. Apart from our Sunday worship it has afforded us the opportunity to offer some beautiful concerts in the empty sanctuary – these can still be viewed online. It also enabled Dale Rose and I the opportunity to offer daily devotional conversations during Lent and to follow these up with a ten session online Discipleship 101 class posted to our website in the weeks that followed Easter. These along with our Walking Together daily devotional edited by Paula Willis, a roster of volunteers and pastors offering phone calls, resources and messaging from our Director of Family Ministries have been strengthening our fellowship when it would be so easy to drift apart. In the midst of all this Janice Ivory Smith has been a guiding hand. Thank you to all who have helped us bear witness to the Light of the World, Jesus Christ, whom the the fear of the coronavirus, the economic hardship and the racial tension nor anything else in the world can put out. Let us continue to let our light shine!

Peter Holmes

WAITING – but not much longer!

As many of you know I have been waiting for major surgery since I was diagnosed with a rare cancerous tumour in early May.  My wait seems to be almost over as I received a call this morning with a date for next week.

My family, my ministry team and my friends have all been so supportive and encouraging and I am as pleased for them as I am for me.  My family of course also includes the people of the church whose prayers, cards, emails and messages have been a tremendous source of encouragement.  Thank you to one and all.

Waiting is not always easy especially in these Covid-19 times when it means living in isolation, but I have filled my days with quiet walks, gentle gardening, reading, writing, rest and prayer.

I have written a few poems including the following poem called, ‘Waiting,’ which was read at the beautiful concert Anne Lindsay offered yesterday at the church.   If you didn’t have a chance to see and hear one of Canada’s greatest fiddlers, you can still enjoy it at


I am waiting in a line
that winds around a corner
I know not where
it goes from here or there
yet already it stretches
me beyond belief

I am waiting on a call
that never seems to come
It holds out hope
which helps one cope
but the endless silence
deafens my spirit

I’m waiting in a room
all the doors are closed
the chairs are marked
with signs to keep us apart
an exclamation mark
leaving me alone

Yet in the line when I can not see
a garden scent catches up to me
there’s lilac and lavender in the air
and in the silence I cannot bear
the birds sing and the winds give voice
now’s the time to pray and rejoice.


J. Peter Holmes