February 2006            Issue No. 6


NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM


Palm and Passion
window given by
George & Helen McGill

The city is not large by today's standards, boasting only some 400,000 permanent residents. However, it can claim to draw more visitors than just about any other location on earth. It is a timeless place, still partly surrounded by walls many thousands of years old. It shines in the sunshine like a great pronged jewel and is universally called "the Golden."  For over four millennia its ancient streets have been walked by Canaanites, Jews, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Christians, Muslims and many who were searching for truth. And during all this time, it has not only lost nothing of its value but has gained all the more.

Sacred to three great religions and half the world's population, and called by them "the Centre of the Universe," it is Jerusalem. Two thousand years ago, Jewish rabbis asserted that no Jew should live more than ninety days' journey from this city, and' that they make the annual trek whenever possible to keep the Passover in God's House. As such, they would share with each other the blessing and promise that they would meet again, "next year in Jerusalem."

Today millions of people repeat this same blessing and refrain, and today they stand a better chance of achieving that goal than ever. The Holy Land's three governing bodies - Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian leadership (who normally can't agree on anything) - have agreed on one thing: they want tourism to come back. As such, they have pledged their mutual authority to ensure the safety of their visitors, regardless of nationality.

Over the past three years, this pact has been remarkably successful. Therefore, the pilgrim- age that we sought to carry out in 2000 has become a realistic possibility for the spring of 2007. But, we will see more than just Jerusalem! The working itinerary calls for 10-12 days in the Holy Land, four-star hotels, a private air-conditioned coach, a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, an English-speaking guide, and countless sights to see from the Golan Heights to the Red Sea. To see the sights that our Lord saw, to breathe the air that he breathed, to have our hearts race as we ascend to Jerusalem, as His heart did ... this and more is what 2007 holds for us!

Fr. Greg Bloomquist will be our scholarly guide. A Biblical scholar who has been to Israel twice, he will be able to bring the past alive in a unique and deeply meaningful way. He will be joined in this effort by Fr. Bob Graham, formerly of St John's Episcopal Church in Massena, NY, and now of Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa. Parishioners from St John's and the Cathedral will round out the numbers for our pilgrimage.

Over the course of the next 12 months, there will be information sessions, planning sessions, and a series on the Holy Land offered at St Mark's. There will be announcements in the bulletin about the next information session, which will be attended by our travel agent to answer the more technical questions. Anyone with even a passing interest will be most welcome. Let us pray together that we, too, can share the blessing of "next year in Jerusalem."


THE PASTOR'S PREAMBLE

TRUE FASTING

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
- Isaiah 58:6-7(NRSV)
From this passage we learn that true fasting - the fasting to which God calls us - is not simply a matter of subtracting food from our diet for a fixed period of time. It is rather a matter of adding food, shelter, clothing, justice and freedom to the lives of people who have none of these. I have personally experienced the benefit of deciding to go for a fixed period of time without food - or at least without much food. It is cleansing for the body and for the soul. It can be in itself a form of prayer, remembering how our Lord Jesus fasted and emptied his life out for us all. Yet it is never an end in itself. It is to lead us, by God's grace and Spirit, to the true fasting of which Isaiah speaks. It is this true fasting that we see perfectly modeled in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord. This is the focus of our Lenten fast.

This is why we choose two Lenten almsgiving projects each year in our parish. Almsgiving is sacrificial giving that is made in addition to the commitment we have already made financially for the work of the Gospel. It means using that money that might have bought a meal or some form of personal entertainment, for the true fast of which Isaiah speaks and for which Christ emptied out his life. Pray about this and use the almsgiving envelopes enclosed in this newsletter.

Our Lenten fast, aside from subtracting food from our diet at certain times, is also about adding helpful spiritual disciplines to our lives.

These disciplines are intended to help us grow in understanding and action as disciples of Jesus. This is why we add a parish Lenten program to our parish calendar of events each year. The title of this year's program is: "If you want to walk on water, you've got to get out of the boat.

This is the title of a book written by JohnOrtberg, a teaching Pastor at Willow Creek Church in Illinois. We will be running this program on five consecutive Tuesdays from 7:30 PM - 8:45 PM in the Church, in the form of six videos and study materials distributed ahead of time. These Tuesdays will be March 7 - April 4, inclusive. It challenges participants to personal and corporate growth in discipleship. The book, for those who choose to purchase and read it (highly recommended by me) is available at Canterbury House Book Store.

Devotions around the Stations of the Cross will also be led in the Church on Saturday, March 11 and Saturday, April 1, at 10 AM both days.

As we enter into our Lenten fast this year, may the One who died and rose for us all lead us by his Spirit and grace, to share more deeply in the miracle and mystery of his resurrection.

Your fellow disciple on the road

- Roger Steinke +


IN THE MIDST

A new ministry within the Church is one known as Spiritual Direction. There are a few churches throughout Canada and also some theological colleges who have hired or made available to their people a Spiritual Director.

Recently St. Paul University asked me if I would make myself available for students in the Anglican Studies Program and in some of the other programs to give them Spiritual Direction.

What is Spiritual Direction, and how does one become a Spiritual Director?

For me, the journey to Spiritual Direction has been a long one. During the 1990' s there were a few significant events that happened in my life. First I was "downsized" by the Federal Government. It was at that time that I felt led by God to attend St. Paul University and to study for and receive my degree in theology. This was something I long desired; I had begun the studies in Toronto when I was a teenager, and received a "MRS" degree instead. The study of theology and the opportunity to earn my degree was my "heart's desire." After many hours of lectures, many late nights in the library, many papers and exams, and a wonderful family who pulled together to help me in my venture, I graduated in 1997 with my B.Th. As I journeyed along this road of getting my degree, I also needed to determine how I would put this degree to use after graduation.

Somewhere during this journey, I was intro- duced to the Centre for Spiritual Growth, and I engaged there in their programs, which would lead me to the practicum in Spiritual Direction. The programs at the Centre were intense and well supervised. They involved papers and practical work directing directees. These courses taught us how to actively listen to one another, how to reflect, and how to mirror to others what was said. We were taught how to bring others to a new perspective of what was happening in their lives, and also to bring God to the center of events that they were experiencing. It is for each of us to truly know our heart's desire. Once God is brought to the center of the event, then we can begin to pray with God in each situation. Once prayer begins, healing  begins.  Each  day  of  our  practicum 
started with worship and  reflection and turning our minds and hearts and beings to God our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. We relied on this greater Being to direct us in all things, to share all things and to show us where we are in the midst of all things. Where are we in God and in His creation? Do we really live and move and have our being in God? How aware are we really of that Presence every moment of our day?

Spiritual Direction is an active conversation between two people that centers on the one's relationship with God, and is informed by both persons' sensing of the movement of the Spirit. It is an active conversation, with much reflection. Spiritual Direction explores a person's life within the context of the Gospel, and is the authentic dynamic connection with our deepest selves and with the God of our tradition.

Ordinary life can cause us to lose our direction in life. Many of life's circumstances may cause us to lose hope. To have a trained companion join us on the journey of our faith often helps us to maintain our course in the midst of trials and tribulations. Everyone needs someone to talk with in confidence.

Spiritual Direction may take the dynamics of a counseling session. However, a counselor will concentrate more on the psychological dimensions of relationships; the Spiritual Director focuses on the spiritual dimension. This includes an exploration not only of prayer life, but the call of God on our lives and the images of God that we have. The realities of forgiveness, redemption, grace and the meaning of suffering are discerned, and evidence of God's loving presence is illuminated. The directee thereby learns to trust in God's provision to feel supported by God's ongoing care. In Spiritual Direction I use both my training and my life's experiences in bringing others to the healing grace of God.

As a Spiritual Director, it is important that I too have a Spiritual Director and that I live being aware of the God Who is at the center of my life. I am available for anyone in the parish who wishes to learn more about their own Spiritual Journey and where God is moving in their life.

- Marion Stalter


"To the Glory of God
and in Thanksgiving ..."

A memorial project that started very slowly blossomed and flourished in 2005. The last stained­glass window was installed in the Nave just before Christmas, and all but three have been dedicated.

To all parishioners who supported this project, gave so freely to remember loved ones and family, and added further beauty to our Church ... on behalf of the Memorial Committee - "Alleluia! Amen."

- Cynthia, Margaret, Coralie and Jean


Because He died ...
we live!


Mark This Word
SUBMISSIONS ...

Any and all contributions are welcome. It is a great convenience to receive files electronically, but I shall willingly transcribe for people who do not have computer access. 

The best method for e-files is to save them in Rich Text Format (RTF) and email them to me.  Hard copy can be mailed or handed to me on Sundays at St Mark’s.

If you would rather receive this newsletter in electronic format only, that’s great; it will save paper.  Simply email me with your request.

Next submission deadline:  May 21, 2006.


  Easter Blessings

PAIRS

I love to watch the young contenders,
Champions of many nations,
Gliding for the gold,
Intense in their concentration,
Yet with a smile,
Gracefully in dance, entranced,
Encoupled skaters whirl and curling past.
A triple, such expertise! The shriek!
The crowd is truly pleased.
Such grace! Such energy! Such speed!

- Bob Wootten 



The Parish Nurse
Pilot Project
The Parish Nurse Steering Committee hosted a Town Hall meeting on January 29th; over 40 people brought their lunches and sat in. Several parishioners gave testimonials about how they had been supported by the Parish Nurse during recent periods of difficulty in their lives. Roger stated clearly that, as the Parish Priest, he also benefits enormously from the assistance provided by this ministry.

The results of the two-page survey conducted through the Parish last year were most encouraging. Here are a couple of highlights: of all respondents, over 90% said that they would seek the help of the Parish Nurse if the need arose, and that they would recommend the Parish Nurse to a friend.

In addition, there was an extra survey taken at the Town Hall meeting, asking whether or not the individual would like the Parish Nurse Ministry to continue. 95% said Yes!

For more information on the Town Hall meeting, the parish survey results, or the Parish Nurse Ministry in general, please contact Marian Chapman at mchapman@csdi.ca.

- Marian Chapman

The Parish of St. Mark the Evangelist
Anglican Church of Canada

1606 Fisher Ave, Ottawa, ON K2C 1X6
Tel: (613) 224-7431  *  Fax: (613) 224-7454  *  e-mail: stmarks@magma.ca



Newsletter editor:  Sheila Vaudrey e-mail: jubilate@magma.ca


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