A Prayer for Nova Scotia

Since Sunday’s shocking massacre of at least twenty-two good and innocent folk in rural Nova Scotia we have all been thinking of idyllic places and special friends in that beautiful part of our country and trying our best to pray. Our whole nation grieves, but in Nova Scotia where, as my colleague Dale Rose has reminded me, the traditional six degrees of separation can be reduced to two or three degrees, everyone is feeling a personal connection to this horrific loss of life.

And so many of the stories emerging about those whose lives were taken only serve to affirm the goodness we associate with the Maritimes and with rural life across our country, where people feel such a connection with the earth below and God above and the neighbour beside that doors are left unlocked and pantries open. One need only think of the iconic words in the beautiful ‘Song of the Mira,’ which champions the wonder of small town life in Nova Scotia.

Can you imagine a piece of the universe
More fit for princes and kings?
I’ll trade you ten of your cities for Marion Bridge
And the pleasure it brings…

And then into this good and pleasant land on a Sunday morning a wolf came in sheep’s clothing devouring the inhabitants of the green pastures. The only word for what happened on Sunday is evil and while I too struggle to find the words to pray, perhaps it doesn’t need to be so complicated. I find it helps to go back to the prayer Jesus gave us.

“Our Father, who art in heaven.” O God, we turn from our focus on the source of this evil, to tune our hearts and minds afresh to you. For you alone are above the chaos and madness of this event. You invite us to call you Father and in your love to rediscover our connectedness to you and to all your children. O Father, we open our hearts to your love and lean on you in the hope of healing and restoration for the shattered lives and communities of Nova Scotia and beyond. May all those who grieve know they are forever near and dear to your heart.

“Hallowed be thy name.” In the midst of this darkness and evil when we might well turn to hatred and fear, we turn instead to you that our minds might be rooted in all that is good and precious in this life. And so we thank you for the wonder and beauty of each day and the blessings of life and love, for you are the source of every good and perfect gift.

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Lord God, these incidents of violence and so many other things happening in these days are not heavenly. We therefore make no room for them in our hearts and homes and instead long and pray for the day when the voice of evil will be forever silenced by goodness and mercy and when death will be no more and when love and kindness will breath through every fabric of this planet.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Today is all we have O God. Help us not to fixate on the glories or failures of the past, or hoard and worry for tomorrow, but to trust you in the here and now where day by day you meet us full of mercy and grace. O Bread of Life meet the grieving families of Nova Scotia on this day and nurture them through to your eternal day.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” God cleanse us of the sin that lies within and enable us to meet both friend and foe with the same grace Christ extends to us. Help me to forgive and forget the sins of the other that I might be freed to forgive myself as you have already forgiven and forgotten my sin through Jesus Christ.

“And lead us not into temptation.” We are weak, but you are strong. Help us to lean on you in times of trial and testing that we might be true to you and to our best selves. And when we fall and fail, carry us in your mercy as only you can for you are the Way, the Truth and the Life. Carry the grieving folk of Nova Scotia through this chapter and lead them on to your Promised Land.

“But deliver us from evil.” O Christ, we commit to your care all the victims of this evil, believing that you were with them in their moments of despair. In that you have overcome all things we pray that you would carry them over and indeed deliver all those who grieve and mourn from the fears, tears, and scars of evil that your love might reign supreme in Nova Scotia and across this land.

“For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory…” Yes, you are the sovereign Lord of the Universe and so in silence we lift up all who grieve the violence in Nova Scotia and all who fight the battles against Covid-19 across this country and around the world and those too who struggle with other troubles and fears and in the quiet we wait, acknowledging the last word and the best word are yours.

“Forever…” Break the silence as you broke the spell of death at Easter and usher in your eternal day reassuring those who have lost loved ones along the way that In Christ we will be together again and all will be well forever. Amen.

We sang ‘Song of the Mira’ at the conclusion of the funeral of the Very Reverend Angus MacQueen, one of Nova Scotia’s finest sons and one of the greatest leaders the Canadian church has known. It was fitting as this song of Nova Scotia ends with a beautiful verse about being together again with those who have gone before us. Last Sunday morning an evil messenger rose up to spread bad news and fear, but every Sunday we celebrate the messenger of goodness and grace who God raised up to ensure that love will win and we will indeed be together again in Christ! Love wins.

Now I’ll conclude with a wish you go well:
Sweet be your dreams—and your happiness swell.
I’ll leave you here, for my journey begins;
I’m going to be with them again,
I’m going to be with them again.

The following link will take you to a rendition of this song by our friend John McDermott.


Thank you to the families who have honoured their loved ones by placing memorial flowers in the church on recent Sundays when they have not been able to be there to appreciate them.

During these strange days of COVID-19 protocol when only a few of us are able to offer worship inside an empty church, the memorial flowers have served as a powerful reminder of the deeper communion we share beyond the physical presence and beyond even death through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As we lead worship in an empty space we still sense the presence of those we know are watching or the task would be impossible. So too the flowers symbolize the communion we share with those who have gone on before us. Just as we know that the many in isolation will one day be back, we believe that we will all be together again through the victory Christ has won over the grave and death.

The above arrangements were placed to the glory of God an in memory of Norman, Grace and Elizabeth Bishop; John Stevens and Kerr Spiers; Mary Jefferies; and Donna Britten.  These arrangements have been a true blessing.



Some of the social agencies that are especially close to our heart at Yorkminster Park

MEALS ON WHEELS – operates out of YP Mon-Fri providing meals. Hot and frozen meals are available for those in isolation. MOW thanks YP for the wonderful response they received in their call for drivers. Volunteers needed.

CHURCHES-ON-THE-HILL FOOD BANK – operates out of Timothy Eaton Memorial Church Monday evenings and Wednesday mornings. Clients are being offered pre-packaged bags on the sidewalk outside the church. Their annual food drive had to be cancelled so donations are needed. www.cothfoodbank.ca

HOUSE OF COMPASSION – located on Shaw Street to provide 24/7 supportive housing for 21 people living with severe mental illness. HOC was founded by the people of YP and is chaired by Neil Hetherington. Please pray for the health of the residents and staff.

THE GATEWAY MEN’S SHELTER under the leadership of Jake Aikenhead – Pray for Jake and his team as they offer frontline care to homeless men on the south end of Jarvis Street.
www.thegateway.ca Jake invites you to contact judyrighton@thegateway.ca to send encouraging thank you notes to his front line staff.

THE DAILY BREAD FOOD BANK led by Neil Hetherington is the agency that leads, coordinates, oversees and supplies all food banks in Toronto and speaks with one voice to the need of hunger in our city. With many food banks now closed due to their locations, the Daily Bread is more heavily involved than ever. Please pray for Neil and his whole team. For more information click here.

YONGE STREET MISSION a mission which YP supports in the heart of the city. Please go to the website to get an update on their needs and programs. www.ysm.ca

SANCTUARY is a downtown mission based faith community that seeks to reach and include those whose experiences in life have been marked by rejection and abuse. The Board of Sanctuary is chaired by Alison Marthinsen of YP. Pray for their team. www.sanctuarytoronto.ca

Lead Kindly Light – A Hymn for our Times.

As a young cleric in the 1830’s John Henry Newman wrote the words to the hymn, Lead Kindly Light, after he became sick trying to help others while in Italy during a deadly epidemic. Newman was quarantined for several weeks and became weak in body and spirit even questioning his faith. At last he boarded a boat that would get him on his way home to England, but the winds died stranding the sailing ship for a week in the dangerous currents and shoals of the Strait of Bonifacio. It was there in the deep waters of fear and doubt longing for the faces of loved ones that his faith went deeper still and he wrote the hymn that has often been turned to for comfort in times much like our own.

There are legends of the hymn being sung aboard the Titanic on the fateful night of its sinking and by English miners stranded underground after an explosion in the Durham coalfields in 1909. Corrie ten Boom remembered her sister singing Lead Kindly Light as she was led by SS guards into the concentration camp at Ravensbrook. It was also the favourite hymn of Mahatma Gandhi and the title given to one of his biographies.

Newman’s beloved hymn, Lead Kindly Light, has inspired numerous tunes. I have attached links to several arrangements, some old and familiar and some new. Take your time. Listen and reflect. Which arrangement/s speak to you and why? I would love to hear back from you at jpholmes@yorkminsterpark.com

  1. Lead Kindly Light tune ‘Alberta’ by William H. Harris https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fNjEgbsNmI
  2. Lead Kindly Light tune by Dan Forrest
  3. Lead Kindly Light tune ‘Lux in Tenebris’ by Arthur Sullivan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV1Afm3KzAk
  4. Lead Kindly Light tune ‘Lux Benigna’ by John B. Dykes
  5. Lead Kindly Light tune ‘Sandon’ by https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4Dwd3hd-j4
  6. Lead Kindly Light tune by Audrey Assad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piUDbCtgymw

A PRAYER to guide your prayers through COVID-19

I offer this prayer to guide you as we pray together through this COVID-19 pandemic. Pray it slowly. Pause and reflect and add the names of those who weigh on your hearts.

The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy
but I have come to give life abundant and full (John10:10)

A Prayer During COVID-19
written by Rev. Dr. J. Peter Holmes,
of Yorkminster Park Baptist Church

The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy
but you have come to give life abundant and full (John10:10)

Gracious and merciful God
the news is bad again today – so bad.
For a thief has come to invade our shores,
to steal our dreams and destroy our lives.
But our hope is in you, O Lord.
For you came not to invade or steal,
but to offer your life on the cross in love
to conquer all enemies and rise above,
That we might come to surrender our fear
and know that Jesus is always here
and he breaks the barriers of distance again
to bring your good news
of life and love forevermore.

And so as COVID-19 wages war on this world,
we pray for our elders and others at risk.
Especially we pray for ….. (offer names of those on your heart)
Move in the hearts of each one of us now
to keep our distance and wash our hands
and to make a difference with calls and notes
and deeds of kindness by love invoked.

We pray for those who fight in the trenches:
doctors and nurses and medical teams,
paramedics and all first responders,
hospital employees and all who are near
to those who struggle through coughing and fever
for the precious breath of life.
Thank you for their care and commitment
bringing courage and hope and healing to life
Especially we pray for… (offer the names of those on your heart)
Put hope in their hearts and free them of fear.
Let love guide their hands and wisdom their minds,
cover them against infection and disease,
grant them rest at end of long shifts,
protect their families and preserve their homes with peace.

We pray for those who venture out to work
to offer services essential across the land.
Especially we pray for…. (offer the names of those on your heart)
Keep them safe and above the fears
and use their efforts and talents to keep the peace,
and allow for the essentials to continue to flow,
that together across this land,
as we hold our breath to take a stand,
that with your help and by your grace
we might reach that day when face to face
we can come again to our sacred place,
where tears and songs and stories we’ll share
with thankful hearts for your loving care.

Yet even now we see your love and grace
written on many a kindly face.
May it give pause all along the way
for your goodness and mercy every day,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

JPH 27-03-20


An Epiphany Reflection

Matthew 2:1-12
2:1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,
2:2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
2:3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him;
2:4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.
2:5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
2:6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'”
2:7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared.
2:8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”
2:9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.
2:10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.
2:11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
2:12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

January 6th is known as the Feast Day of Epiphany, the day Christians in the west celebrate the first manifestation of Christ to the gentile world. The arrival of the magi in Bethlehem at the very beginning of Christ’s life was indeed a sign that God was in Christ reconciling not only the nation of Israel, but indeed the whole world to himself. The presence of these foreigners from Babylon with their ‘non-kosher foods’ and their ‘unclean’ ways was a very early indication of what would become clearer and clearer in the teachings of Jesus, that God’s love and forgiveness is for the whole world. Whether it was the Samaritan woman at the well or the workers in his parable who came at the end of the day, Jesus had come to break down the barriers and throw open the doors to God’s Kingdom to one and all.

There is indeed a wonderful truth to celebrate at Epiphany, but Epiphany also presents us with a challenge. When the magi arrived in Jerusalem asking for the whereabouts of the newborn king, Herod was frightened and all Jerusalem with him. Herod knew intuitively that to welcome a new king meant surrendering his own control and power. Ironically when Jesus came as King of Kings he did so by surrendering his heavenly throne and crown and living among us in complete love and service. His love makes it so much easier to let go of our fear and need to be in control. Matthew informs us the magi went home by a different road. When the magi worshipped Jesus they changed their way home to God, or God changed it for them. Sadly Herod chose to change nothing and held to the hatred and fear that had ruled his life. Epiphany reminds us that every day we have a choice to make as to who sits on the throne of our life. Will it be Jesus or me? When we choose Jesus his perfect love will drive all fear away.

Gracious God we give you thanks for opening your arms of love to us and to all people. Day by day help us to open our hearts to Jesus in new ways that his love and grace might rule in all things. And as we open our hearts to him, help us to open our hearts to the world around that we might fulfill our calling to love you with our whole being and our neighbour as ourself, through Jesus Christ, Amen.

My colleagues and I offer daily reflections in an online devotional. To subscribe please to go:https://yorkminsterpark.us8.list-manage.com/subscribe/post?u=feb7d6ec77f433bbb4ed3b5d5&id=cd96d19c30


I am often asked why we have a service on New Year’s Eve. I remember going to the New Year’s Eve Watchnight from the time I was in my early teens, but the tradition of Watchnight goes back much further than my adolescence.

Indeed, the tradition of Watchnight service grew out of the Moravian church which gathered late on New Year’s Eve to enter the new year together in prayer. While the Moravian Church was born in 15th century Bohemia, the Watchnight tradition itself probably stems from a renewal movement in that church during 1722, the same year a number of Moravians arrived on British soil. The Moravian Watchnight service soon came to the attention of John Wesley who introduced the service into the Methodist Church. In the Methodist Watchnight service the people would re-covenant themselves to God and to one another.

Baptists and most other Protestants also began worship traditions based on the Moravian idea of entering the New Year in prayer. On December 31, 1862, Watchnight took on special meaning to African Americans as they gathered not only to pray in the new year, but also to prayerfully await confirmation of the enactment of Abraham Lincoln’s Declaration of Emancipation which took effect January 1, 1863.

So it is at Yorkminster Park that we gather on New Year’s Eve at 11:15 to enter the new year reflecting with gratitude for the blessings of the past year and putting our trust in God for the year ahead. I invite you to pray with me in this same spirit. May God bless you as we enter this new year in faith.

Gracious and merciful God, you are the Eternal One, who ages not with the passing of time and whose patience is not exasperated by the ticking of a clock and so we turn to you in these hours that mark the passing of yet another year.
We pause this day to count our blessings giving thanks for the beauty of the turning of the seasons and the bounty of the harvest, and for the opportunities this year has afforded us to grow and mature as people. As we look back on this old year we thank you for the births of children and grandchildren into our lives and the arrivals of new friends from far away places. We thank you for the freedoms this year brought to refugees who have newly arrived on our shores and the joy we found in being part of the process. We thank you for the gift of work in this past year and for the new skills gained by many. We thank you too for advances in science and technology this year which offer hope for the year ahead. We are grateful too for breakthroughs in diplomacy and peacemaking gained in this year.
As we look back we are particularly mindful of those who have died in this past year. In the midst of grief and sorrow we give you thanks for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ, who entered time and space to take upon himself our mortality, sin and death that through his death and resurrection we might share in the promise of life eternal now and forever. In this hope we give you thanks for this new year and so as we enter it we let go of the old ways of sin and guilt and pray that your new ways of love and forgiveness and peace might take hold of us afresh.
As we enter the new year, awaken us to the wonders all about us and the joy of human love. May this new year be full of mercy and healing and hope for those who live in the shadows of oppression and poverty and may our concern for the broken and wounded grow that the light of your eternal day might begin to dawn on our world. We pay these things in the name of the One who is the same, yesterday, today and forever, Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Walking Together – Monday

Walking Together – A Daily Devotional
Monday, November 25, 2019
Today’s Texts Micah 7:11-20; Matthew 14: 22-36; 1 Peter 4: 7-19; Matt. 20: 29-34; Psalm 144

Focus Text: 1 Peter 4: 7-19
The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker. Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?” Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good.

“Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.” As he wrote these words, Peter had a strong sense that the second coming of Christ was at hand and that therefore all Christians should keep their houses in order. He believed that order started with love. When Peter wrote that love covers a multitude of sins he meant that we must be slow to anger and quick to forgive and not be broadcasters of others’ faults and weaknesses. One can’t help but think of 1 Cor. 13 where Paul writes, “… Love is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” However, because 1 Cor. 13 seems to be reserved for weddings we may fall into the trap of thinking it was written only for wives and husbands, but Paul wrote those words for the church and especially for those in the church who were not getting along.

When Peter wrote, “Love covers a multitude of sins,” he too was writing to the church. He prefaced those words by echoing the words Jesus had spoken in the Upper Room, “Above all love one another.” Not only does this mean we forgive a multitude of sins but also that we take no delight in and gossip over another’s downfall, and that we quietly pray for our friends and enemies alike and hold nothing back in love. It is not easy, because some of those sins may involve times when someone stepped on our toes or trampled on our pride, but Peter instructs us to let go. It doesn’t mean we can forgive all sin – only God can do that but we can pray for help in that good work. And of course there are some sins we must not turn a blind eye to, but even in those times when we need to be tough, we must seek to ensure that we are driven only by love.

This text also reveals that Peter was painfully aware that some of his readers were suffering persecution for their faith. Nonetheless he instructed them to pursue love and not vengeance or hatred. The only way I know to triumph in love in the face of such obstacles is to cling to Jesus and to the cross and let the words of Jesus ring true in our hearts and allow them to speak through our lives, “Father, forgive them they know not what they do.” Christ’s redemptive work on the cross covered all sin. Thanks be to God.


Gracious God, you know us better than we know ourselves. Search our hearts and see if there be any unclean way in us and forgive us that we might live in the love of Jesus. Thank you for your love and forgiveness poured out on the cross and extended afresh with every sunrise. O Lord your mercies are new every morning. Even so may your love and mercy echo through our lives that those lost in the shadows might look to your new day, through Jesus Christ our Lord.



2019 Schedule of Special Christmas Concerts and Services
at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, 1585 Yonge St.

*November 26 – Trees go up in the YP Sanctuary – volunteers needed from 7 a.m. till 11 a.m

*November 29 at 7 p.m. – Harp and Holly – Celtic Yuletide Concert
to raise funds for House of Compassion
featuring legendary celtic harpist Sharlene Wallace and friend (Sharlene plays at our Iona service) Tickets from church office $26 or on Eventbrite
For a taste of their music please go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udAYsQq8S88
To learn more about the House of Compassion, an important charitable organization started by people at Yorkminster Park go to: https://hoctoronto.com/

*11 a.m. the Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes preaching – service includes Communion
*7 p.m. Iona Liturgy with the celtic band Iona Passage – homily by the Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes

Dec. 3 & Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. – The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Festival of Carols

*Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. CITY CAROL SING
a fundraising concert with CITY TV for our Churches on the Hill Food Bank, and food banks across the country. (to be broadcast Christmas Day and Christmas Eve)
featuring Bach Children’s Chorus, Hedgerow Singers, Yorkminster Park Baptist Church Choir, the Hogtown Brass and LUNCH AT ALLEN’S (Murray McLaughlin, Marc Jordan and Ian Thomas) To sample the music of these legendary Canadian singers go to:
doors open at 1 p.m. – a free will offering will be taken for the Food Bank.

*11 a.m. the Rev. Dr. J. Peter Holmes preaching, service includes Baptism and the Dedication of newborns
*7 p.m. the Rev. Dale Rose preaching – Helena Bowkun offering preludes 6:40 p.m.

Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. The Bach Children’s Chorus and the Hannaford Street Silver Band present: Winter’s Song
tickets at: https://www.bachchildrenschorus.ca/events/winters-song
or: http://hssb.ca/#

Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. Handel’s MESSIAH presented by Elmer Iseler Singers and the Amadeus Choir, directed by Lydia Adams
*200 tickets are available from the church office or on Sundays – all proceeds from these 200 tickets go to the support of the Yorkminster Park Baptist Church Refugee Support Ministries.

*Dec. 14 at 11 a.m. Service of Comfort and Hope – a hopeful and compassionate service or worship designed for those who approach Christmas with the emotions of grief and loss in their hearts and minds.
Lunch to follow.

*11 a.m. White Gifts – Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes preaching
*4:30 p.m. CAROLS BY CANDLELIGHT – the inspirational Christmas presentation by the YP choirs and musicians. (doors open at 3:30 p.m. with free will offering)

Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. John McDermott Family Christmas with Dala and Michelle Kasaboski
tickets at the door $25 – https://johnmcdermott.com/?m=3

*11 a.m Family Christmas Service – homily by the Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes
*4:30 p.m. Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

CHRISTMAS EVE (Tues. Dec. 24)
*4 p.m. Bethlehem on Yonge – bundle up for this intergenerational interactive event on the Yorkminster Park grounds then join us in Cameron Hall to sing carols and sip hot chocolate. While this year’s event does not feature live animals it will be full of delightful surprises for the child in each one.
*11 p.m. Christmas Eve Candlelight with YP Choir and special guests tenor, Richard Margison and legendary Canadian actor R.H. Thomson. – homily by the Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes

homily by the Rev. Dale Rose – service includes Communion

*11 a.m. the Rev. Dale Rose preaching
No 7 p.m. service

New Year’s Eve (Tues. Dec. 31)
11:15 p.m. Watchnight Service homily by the Rev. Dale Rose

*Denotes a service, concert, or event organized by Yorkminster Park Baptist Church service,
All other concerts involve outside musicians whom we are honoured to have using our space to add to the larger community’s celebration of Christmas. All of the above events are open to the public. All are welcome.


Remembrance Day – devotional

A reflection on Matthew 15: 1-20 with reference to Nehemiah 9:1-25; Revelation 18: 1-8; from the texts of the Daily Office.

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and on the surface none of these texts prescribed by our ancient schedule of daily readings would seem to fit the occasion and yet as we dig a little deeper we will discover again that the Word of God always has a word for our lives. The Nehemiah reading speaks to a nation’s desire to start out on the right foot after a period of warfare and exile. This involves remembering God’s goodness and unfailing love and mercy and repenting of the pride that had led the nation away from faith in God. The Revelation reading was a prophetic reminder to the early church facing persecution, that evil nations and rulers will all fall and they will have to answer to God. This is a word that still speaks to Christians suffering for their faith. These readings remind me of a chorus written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu that we often sing at our Iona liturgy services on the first Sunday evening of the month. Here is a link to the chorus.

Neither does the Matthew reading seem to have anything to say about Remembrance Day. In it the religious leaders accused Jesus’ disciples of not adhering to some of the religious cleansing rituals which involved washing one’s hands before a meal. These were healthy rituals to be sure, but Jesus response was to point out that his critics were focused on getting everything clean on the outside while neglecting their hearts on the inside. Their external cleansing rituals were intended to make them more presentable to God, but Jesus could see that what was needed was a cleansing from within of the sources of murder, greed, adultery, jealousy and lies. Jesus contended that if the religious leaders had been attending to the cleansing of the heart they would have been far less prone to judge the disciples and far more likely to have been caring for their aging parents and for others in need, but sadly they were not. I can’t help but think that if everyone applied this teaching, the world would be flooded with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, spears would be transformed to farm implements and war would be no more. But rather than judge the world we need to begin by getting our own hearts right with God.


We remember with grateful hearts those who gave their lives to protect our liberties and we pray for the protection of those who this day continue to serve the security and defence of our nation near and far. Stir our heats by the power of your Holy Spirit that we might be wise stewards of these freedoms and faithful followers of Jesus Christ who laid down his life for us on the cross.