Clergy Notes — Sunday, January 5, 2020

To be a follower of Christ is not to dabble in being nice or simply in mutual exchanges to balance everything. It is to be willing to sacrifice self, to be willing to give up what you might be entitled to in order to assist others. That is not a concept that sits easily in the world. It is deeply counterintuitive to the instinct for self-preservation! Yet – it is in this self-giving that Christians have found life – deep, joyful, abundant life that nothing can take away.

As an Anglican leader I am becoming ever more aware of the effects of colonization on me and all around me. I need to empty myself of the assumptions that cling to my view of the world that are rooted in aftereffects of presumed white superiority; and the privileges that I have and continue to enjoy because I am a settler. Those assumptions only come to light in relationships with those who have been the victims of colonialism – so I need to be in relationship and listen and listen again without defensiveness to see the web of racism and effects of colonialism that still live in us and the structures around us. I am committed to helping our church acknowledge and address the effects of embedded racism that continues to insidiously affect our lives – indigenous and non-indigenous; black and brown and white; settler and newcomer; immigrant and refugees.

As a human being in a world so deeply altered by climate change I need to empty myself of the expectations that that I can continue to live as I have always done. I have to work harder at the changes of habits and lifestyle that though small will keep me awake to the overall impacts and make me willing to accept even deeper changes, higher costs to truly change the trajectory our world is on. Those simple, seemingly small things, like the use of plastics that must give way to taking the time to reuse, recycle and reclaim. It will require mindfulness as a consumer that I often ignore and to remember not to leave the grocery bags yet again in the car! That may seem a pitifully small response but they are small steps as building blocks to retrain through new habits my view of the world and the costs of my lifestyle. We have been retrained to use blue boxes. We can be retrained again and again and again if we are willing to empty ourselves.

Self-emptying [see Philippians 2.5-11] is not a concept with currency in North American society. We are rather urged to self-fulfilment through what we want or believe we need. The Christian call is sacrificial. And we engage in the full knowledge that in Christ the whole community is called to the same – for each other – and the result is not loss but gain, not death but life.

+Linda Nicholls, Primate of Canada

Excerpt from New Year’s Day 2020 Homily – for full text see