I am indebted to Bishop William Cliff of the Diocese of Brandon as I reflect upon the Scripture and upon the journey of faith this week.
In 2008 I learned from him in his role as Chaplain to Huron University College. I was attending youth leadership training meetings, and I was blessed to hear words that many of us who have encountered Bill may well remember.
- Grace is when you get what you don’t deserve.
- Mercy is when you don’t get what you do deserve.
- In reading the Scriptures (in particular the Gospels), find out what is astounding, and see where God is at work.
I find myself focusing in this way this week. I must say to you, in my life and witness, in my journey this week, I am tired, I am failing, and I am adrift.
Perhaps it is the weight of pandemic, perhaps it is the weight of the challenges of daily life and being that seems to be all around. Cumulative response to weather patterns perhaps, or the angst of living in perpetual uncertainty.
Into all of this, I step as a human individual, faltering and failing in the midst of community and society all around me, longing for redemption, longing for change, longing for peace it seems. In short, I can be very much consumed with my thoughts, my reality, my struggles.
Into this, I see sparks of the concerns and cares, the realities and the struggles of others. I hear words and read information, and listen to the voices of those who choose to share with me their journey, their reality, their struggles, their joys. I feel wholly inadequate to face my day at times, let alone to face the realities in which others are living. I journey as a priest for others and yet I stumble and fall, and try to bring Jesus as best I can.
And so these words of Bill’s ring out.
I don’t deserve what I get from the Holy One.
I am not getting what I deserve because the Holy One is offering redemption.
I read the words from Acts this week, and I am astounded by the reality that Philip offers reflection, hope, redemption in Jesus for the Ethiopian Eunuch through inclusion in the community of faith. He is baptized, even though parts of Scripture would refute a eunuch’s presence in the life of the Holy Community. This gives me hope as in many parts of society persons are persecuted, ostracized, and demonized because of who they are.
The journey that Jesus demands of we who follow him, is to meet people where they are and love them. Journey with them. Listen. Be. When they wish to explore and learn about who we are and how we try to live our lives, then we share.
I read the words from the Gospel of John this week, and I am astounded in the words ‘Abide in me as I abide in you.’ In the darkest and hardest parts of my day, in the struggles and challenges, I need to remind myself that I am not alone. The Holy One dwells within me, and I dwell in the Holy One. The Holy One lives within those whom I encounter, in the myriad diverse expressions and realities of who they are.
So. I hold on to this vine, this connection with Jesus, with the community of faith, even in uncertain and difficult times. I try to move and be, accepting that my journey has to be a journey of GRACE and MERCY.
I share this quite personal reflection this week, knowing I hold much grief, trauma, and pain within me. Next week much of the province will be observing Mental Health Awareness Week. It is a poignant reminder of my frailty, as this week I have expressed, and recounted from others, the memory of The Rt. Rev.’d Dr. Geoff Peddle, former Bishop of our diocese who died last October. It shook so many of us to the core. Many of us still mourn, have complicated and unresolved grief. Challenges in Mental Health, trauma, pain, and anxiety can be a part of our journey as human beings. They do not have to be the full extent of our journey. I pray that the struggles that I see in Scripture, of the undesired of society being accepted into the family of Jesus, and in the reality of the Holy One abiding within us as we in the Holy One might be marker posts for us as we observe Mental Health Awareness Week.
No one is beyond the love and acceptance of God.
No one is fully alone.
Be gentle, be blessed this week,