I return in this unprecedented time of global crisis: the world as we have known it is turned upside down. All of us are living in the midst of uncertainty and fear, to a greater or lesser degree. Our geographical parish, the DTES, is particularly vulnerable. Quite sensibly, St. James’, as most churches, is closed for public worship, for the safety and well-being of the whole community. Despite this, it is all the more important that the life of the Church, the Opus Dei, Work of God, goes on. As Christians it is still our duty and our joy to praise our Creator God, and to offer our prayers – of intercession, anguish and lament – on behalf of the world God loves so much that he came to share its – our – life in Jesus, God’s own Son. This Passiontide and Holy Week invite us to share in a more profound way in Christ’s self-giving for the world.

The Daily Office continues to be said, and the Mass is being offered. In the midst of the round of news and comment, find space to be still, and to voice your prayers: the Psalms, the Angelus, the Lord’s Prayer. There are many online resources available: in the weeks ahead, I will offer some suggestions, especially about how we may enter together into Holy Week. The Archbishop has commended a prayer to be said at noon in solidarity with our partner Diocese of Northern Philippines:

O God, where hearts are fearful and constricted,

grant courage and hope.

Where anxiety is infectious and widening,

grant peace and reassurance.

Where impossibilities close every door and window,

grant imagination and resistance.

Where distrust twists our thinking,

grant healing and illumination.

Where spirits are daunted and weakened,

grant soaring wings and strengthened dreams.

All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ,

our Saviour and Lord.  Amen.

This week we have prepared a “Liturgy for use at Home”, [click here] with the Sunday Readings and a form of Spiritual Communion. You may wish to use this as a personal devotion, linking in prayer with other members of our community doing the same, or to experiment (as I will be doing!) by joining me in a “Zoom celebration” if you have access to the App. We will send out advice about Zoom and a meeting number in a separate mailing.

Keeping in touch with one another is essential too, and we are exploring ways of doing this.  Email is one medium. Deacon Joyce is working on a telephone tree. There is the St. James’ Facebook page, and the opportunity to use Zoom (zoom.us). Some of these will be a challenge to me, as they may be to some of you, but let’s see what we can learn together!

Fr. Matthew, quite rightly, has suspended routine work on the Street, but continues to be engaged actively with the DTES Response: https://dtesresponse.ca. Please support this work in your prayers, and by donation if you are able. The impact of Covid-19 in the neighbourhood is likely to be volatile.

On a personal note, my thanks to everyone for their good wishes, concern and prayers since my accident in January. I’m glad and thankful to report that my leg is mending well, that I am increasingly mobile, and that I am now able to resume responsibilities at St. James’. I should like to express sincere thanks to Fr. Neil Gray, on my own behalf and that, I am sure, of the Parish, for his commitment as acting Priest-in-Charge in my absence, and my thanks too to all who have worked hard to keep everything going. It is not often in one’s ministry one is able to miss an Annual Vestry, and good, if salutary, to recognise one is not indispensable!

The Lord bless you and keep you.

Fr. Kevin

Liturgy at Home, Sunday, March 29, 2020

Father Kevin returns to duties as of Sunday, March 22. Although they will be “light” duties as he is still in recovering from his fall and has to be careful about how much weight he puts on his leg. And, of course, those duties will be very different as we at St. James’ (along with every other parish in this diocese) cope with the implications of the suspension of all in-person worship and church activity.

It is still difficult to deal with the emotions that we feel about this decision and also about the many things which are taking place around us as the world grapples with COVID-19. People are anxious, or frightened — not only about the virus but also what it means for jobs, businesses, transportation, social lives and financial stability. This situation is unprecedented in modern times.

I want to offer a few things for your comfort and encouragement.

We have an excellent leadership (in both church and state). At national, provincial, and local level we have people in positions of authority who are practical, efficient and compassionate. We have a wonderful Archbishop whose communication has been timely and unambiguous.

The “miracle of modern science” (as King George V said of the invention of the wireless) means that we are able to communicate with each other in an amazing variety of ways. We are encouraging more of our parishioners to subscribe to The Thurible, our online newsletter, and are considering making more prayer and spiritual resources available that way. We will be constantly updating our website. The cathedral is going to be live streaming a Eucharist every Sunday at 10:30 AM and we are thinking about ways of doing something similar.

We are still able to connect with the ongoing worship of God in the Kingdom of Heaven. Nothing can stop that! I encourage you all to use the beginning and the end of each day to ground yourself in scripture, and psalm, prayer and praise. The reading, for morning and evening prayer are included in this newsletter.

There is a prayer printed in this newsletter which I would like you to offer regularly. It was written by a friend of mine and a fellow Anglican priest, the Reverend Jim Cotter. He wrote it out the height of the AIDS epidemic. It also serves as a reminder that “this too shall pass.”

With every blessing, Father Neil