The people of the Parish of Alberton-O'Leary help one another and the people in our community. Call on us if you need help. We are all neighbours in God's eyes. As a Christian community we strive to live out our baptismal covenant of proclaiming by word and example the good news of God in Christ, seeking and serving Christ in all persons, loving neighbour as self, and working for justice, peace and dignity amoung all people. This we do, with God’s help.
Burying Time Capsule
1859 - 150th Anniversary of Parish - 2009 (photo by Scott & Debbie Travers )
Monday, January 5, 2015
"Singing a Song of Hope" - Bishop Hiltz New Year's Day Sermon
A sermon by Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church
of Canada, delivered on New Year’s Day 2015 at Christ Church Cathedral in
Archbishop Fred Hiltz at Christ Church Cathedral in
2012. Photo by Art Babych
Today, dear friends, we celebrate
the naming of the Lord. Second only to the joy of the birth of a child is the
delight of parents in naming their new born and announcing that name to the
world. “A name,” writes Curtis Almquist “is what uniquely distinguishes us from
others and also unites us to others”—in a family, in a circle of friends, among
classmates and with colleagues in the places where we work or play. A name
endears us to others. It gives them access to our intellect, our feelings, our
love, our generosity. By a name we are baptized and confirmed, married,
ordained or commissioned for ministry, remembered in prayer, and at the end of
our days, commended into the gracious keeping of God.
Like our name, Jesus’ name
distinguishes him from all others. He is the very Son of God and our Saviour.
“His is the name,” writes St.
Paul, “which is above every name, so that at his name every knee should bend,
in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess him
Lord” (Philippians 2:9-11). Great is the music of the church that extols the
glory of Jesus’ name, none so beautiful as that penned for Christmas itself.
One need only think of Handel’s Messiah and the musical rendering of those
magnificent words from Isaiah—“and his name shall be called Wonderful,
Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
In as much as all these names for
the Christ child honour his glory, they also draw us to him in his mission of
love, reconciliation, and peace in the world.
In this mission stands one whose
life and labours I want to single out today. His name is Jean Vanier. Fifty
years ago in 1964 he invited two men, Raphael and Philippe who were
developmentally challenged to live with him in an old house in the tiny village
of Trosly—Breuil in France. From that little household has grown a movement the
world knows as L’Arche, a community shaped by the love, compassion, and peace
of Jesus. 130 of these communities can be found in 30 countries on six
In their houses life with all its
physical, developmental and emotional challenges is celebrated. “To love
someone,” says Vanier, “is to show them their beauty, their worth, and their
importance.” Accordingly, birthdays are big celebrations! Times for work and
play are balanced. And hallowed each evening is the time for prayer for each
other and for the world. The quality of life lived there has much to teach us
about life in our own homes and life in the household of faith.
In extraordinary ways L’Arche
models such a straight forward living of the vows of our baptism:
·Celebrating and sharing God’s love in Jesus.
·Saying we’re sorry when we’ve hurt each other.
·Helping our brothers and sisters in need.
·Building a world that is kind and just for all.
·Taking delight in the wonders of God’s creation.
Pictures of life in L’Arche
represent such a sharp contrast to so many horrific others from the year 2014.
Here are but a few:
·Nigerian school girls kidnapped under the cover of
·Innocent victims killed through the use of chemical
weapons in Syria and thousands of Syrian refuges now facing starvation.
·Children of Gaza killed while playing at the beach.
·Men and women and children beheaded for refusing to
denounce the name of Jesus.
·A soldier bleeding to death at the Tomb of the
Unknown Soldier at our National War Memorial.
·Young men and women recruited and radicalized for
the terrorist activities of ISIS.
·Thousands of young people mostly women being
trafficked for the sex trade where they are used, abused and trashed.
·Hostages pressed against the windows of a café in
·132 children slaughtered by the Taliban in their
classrooms in Peshawar Pakistan.
All these images, and so many
more, reveal such a total disregard for the sanctity of human life. By
contrast, a beautiful contrast, L’Arche represents a hallowing of the wonder
and dignity of human life.
One need only read some of Jean
Vanier’s writings to know that at the very core of his labours of love for
humanity is his intense love of Jesus. His life’s work is shaped by the Jesus
of John’s Gospel. “There’s a music behind the words and stories and flow of
this gospel,” he writes, “I have listened to that song which has warmed and
stirred my heart and opened up my intelligence, and given hope, meaning and
orientation to my life with all that is beautiful and broken in me and meaning
to this world of pain in which we live.” He goes on to say, “I want to sing
this song even if my voice is weak and sometimes wavers, so that others may
sing it and that together we may be in the world singing a song of hope, to
bring joy where there is sadness and despair.”
In this deep personal desire of
Jean Vanier, I see the very vocation of the Church, to be in and for the
world—Singing a song of hope in the name of Christ.
We are called to sing this song
with heart and soul and voice in the sanctuary, in the streets, and amidst the
masses of humanity who suffer so much at the hands of others.
On this New Year’s Day as we
enjoy this choral Eucharist in this lovely cathedral church, I am mindful of
all who work behind the scenes in the preparation of liturgy. Knowing that
worship is our first work as the People of God, let us be grateful for all
whose life’s work is to gather the church in song and sacrament, in preaching
the Word, and in living that Word. Accordingly, I invite your prayers for all
our bishops, priests, and deacons; all our lay readers and catechists; all our
lectors and all who lead us in our prayers for the Church and the world; all
our musicians and choristers; all acolytes and all who serve on our altar
guilds: yes, those who polish brass, wash linens and arrange the flowers in
their respective ways. All these people contribute to worship that is complete
in the beauty of holiness. Each in their own way enables the Church to sing its
song of hope in the grace of God revealed in the face of Jesus.
On this New Year’s Day, let us
also give thanks to God for all whose life’s work is to call the church
assembled into loving service among the poor. “Jesus,” says Vanier, “is the
starving, the parched, the prisoner, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the
dying. To live with Jesus is to live with the poor. To live with the poor is to
live with Jesus.”
Here is a theology rooted in
God’s special regard for the poor and in the Psalmist’s prayer that the hope of
the poor not be forgotten (Psalm 9:18).
In partnering with places like
The Well and Centre 454 here in Ottawa, the church is singing a song of hope in
the midst of much sadness and despair. When we Christians provide a nutritious
breakfast for kids before they go to school; when we open the doors of our
churches and welcome people in from out of the cold; when we set up for the
Saturday night community supper; when we turn our parish halls into overnight
shelters for the homeless, we are singing songs of whispering hope for the
dawning of a better and brighter day and the peace of a quieter and safer
night. Here’s a form of evangelism as one of our retired bishops, Michael
Ingham, has written that “shows forth the Lord Jesus in acts of love and compassion
rather than winning souls we deem to be lost… It is designed for service not
Accordingly, let us pray that the
church always be graced and challenged by those who call us out into the
streets and neighbourhoods of our communities—those who remind us of our
vocation in the world as the body of Christ—his eyes to see, his ears to hear,
his hands to feed his heart to love.
On this New Year’s Day, I am
mindful that at the turn of the millennium, world leaders declared a number of
Millennium Development Goals and set 2015 as an achievable time line. While
there has been some significant measure of success in eradicating extreme
poverty, it has been very uneven across regions and indeed within countries.
There is much more to be done “Until all are fed,” as the World Council of
Churches Assembly sang in Busan, Korea in 2013:
“How long will we sing?
How long will we pray?
How long will we write and send?
How long will we stay?
How long will we make amends?
Until all are fed
Until all on earth have bread
Like the one who loves us each and everyone
we serve until all are fed.”
From an assembly of churches that
numbers some 345, this is a song of hope for the millions of people who live in
On the long road to improving
maternal health and reducing child mortality, two other MDGs, I am delighted to
say our own Church, through the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF),
has been singing a song of hope for twenty-five years. Within the last few,
that song has swelled to a chorus of great joy through substantial government
funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Development
(DFATD), enabling expanded work in Mozambique, Tanzania, and Burundi.
On the long road to ending
gender-based violence in our world, the Anglican Communion has called on all
its member churches to not remain silent, but to speak out against such
violence, to make sure our churches are promoting and modeling safe, equal and
respectful relationships between women and men, boys and girls. Here in Canada,
there are more than a few Highways of Tears, back alleys, and wooded paths
where women are abused and dumped. Of particular concern is the trend of
ever-escalating statistics regarding beaten and battered, missing, and murdered
aboriginal women. The church’s support of shelters for those who suffer
domestic violence, and for second stage housing for those gaining the courage
and counsel they need in leaving behind the vicious cycles of abuse in which
they have been trapped, is a song of hope for many.
As this year marks the conclusion
of the work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, our church has
already affirmed its continuing commitment to walk with Indigenous Peoples
along paths of healing from their experiences in the residential schools.
Deeply aware that this journey is a long and difficult one, “We are,” as former
primate Michael Peers said, “committed for the long haul.” Thankfully, along
the way we can cite together some very sacred moments of apology,
reconciliation, community healing and self-determination. Each in its own way
is a song of hope that has lifted the hearts of all and moved us forward in
In the world today, there are
more than 50 million refugees. Our Church has a long standing commitment in
accompanying those who live in camps for many years—indeed, for some, a
lifetime. Our church has a strong record in settling refugees through diocesan
sponsorship agreements. Our church speaks out in pressing our government for
more open policies in welcoming new refugees to Canada. All these actions are
songs of hope.
In the great festival of
Christmas, the scriptures turn our thoughts to the land of the Holy One: the
land of his birth, death, and resurrection. A land sadly caught in age-old
conflict. As we strive to understand its complexities, and as we pray for a
just and lasting peace for Palestine and Israel, we sing however “weak or
wavering” a song of hope.
As we greet this new year, let us
pray that Jean Vanier’s deep desire to sing a song of hope in the world be the
deep passion of our church. In the sanctuary, in the streets, and throughout
the world may our ministries in the name of Jesus make known “the glories of
his righteousness and the wonders of his love” (Hymn 154).