Author Archives: NativityNiagara

Sunday, 24 October

Coptic Icon of the healing of Bartimaeus

Our 10 o’clock Eucharist will be live-streamed to You Tube. The stream will begin at 9:45 with a welcome and musical prelude, and the service begins at 10 am. You can also take part in the service at a later time!

The order of service is available here.

This Sunday is the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost. We’ll hear the conclusion of the book of Job (Job 42.1-6, 10-17). We’ll also hear Jesus restoring the sight of Bartimaeus, and how he then follows Jesus (Mark 10.46-52).

Jesus cures the man born blind – John 9:1-41

The Sundays and Seasons resource offers this brief reflection on the readings.

Can we pray the way Bartimaeus prays? People try to hush him up because by addressing Jesus as “Son of David” he is making a politically dangerous claim that Jesus is the rightful king. Could our prayers ever be heard as a threat to unjust powers that be? Bartimaeus won’t give up or go away quietly, but repeats his call for help more loudly. Do we ask so boldly? And are our prayers an honest answer to Jesus’ question, “What do you want me to do for you?”

The final image is from the Jesus Mafa project. “Jesus cures the man born blind”, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48383 [retrieved October 22, 2021]. Original source: http://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr (contact page: https://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr/contact).

St. Brendan the Navigator

In his sermon this morning (October 17th, 2021), Matthew referred to the prayer attributed to St. Brendan the Navigator. A number of people asked for a copy of the prayer, so we wanted to share it here.

Help me to journey beyond the familiar
and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways
and break fresh ground with You.

Christ of the mysteries, I trust You
to be stronger than each storm within me.
I will trust in the darkness and know
that my times, even now, are in Your hand.
Tune my spirit to the music of heaven,
and somehow, make my obedience count for You.

Here are a few notes on St. Brendan from David Hugh Farmer’s The Oxford Dictionary of Saints.

Brendan (or Brandon) the Navigator (c. 486 – c. 575), abbot of Clonfert. Born probably near Tralee (county Kerry, southwestern Ireland), fostered by Ita and educated by Erc, bishop of Kerry. Brendan became a monk and later abbot. His main centre of activity was western Ireland, where several place-names and landmarks are called after him. … Like many other Irish monks, he was a great traveller… Very feew details of his life can be asserted with certainty. His cult, however, was strong in Ireland (from the 9th-century martyrologies onwards), and in Wales, Scotland, and Brittany.

The cult owed much to the famous Navigation of St. Brendan. This visionary fairy story, a romance of the 10th-11th centuries, transformed the historical seafaring abbot into a mythical adventurer, who accomplished incredible exploits. Written by an expatriate Irish monk, it tells of a sea voyage with a band of monks to an island of promise in the Atlantic Ocean. This quest for a happy other-world has some features derived from early apocryphal Christian writings, others from Irish folklore. Its immense popularity is proved from the survival of 116 medieval Latin manuscripts of the text, and of versions in Middle English, French, German, Provençal, and Norse.

Photo by Marcus Meissner from flickr, used under CC-BY 2.0.

Canterbury Cathedral has a series of videos on the Navigation of St. Brendan. You might also enjoy a great poem by Matthew Arnold: “Saint Brandan“.

Sunday, 17 October

Our 10 o’clock Eucharist will be live-streamed to You Tube. The stream will begin at 9:45 with a welcome and musical prelude, and the service begins at 10 am. You can also take part in the service at a later time!

The order of service is available here.

This Sunday is the 21st Sunday after Pentecost. We’ll hear God challenging Job from out of the whirlwind (Job 38.1-7, 34-41). We’ll also hear Jesus warning James and John about their earthly ambitions, re-shaping our understanding of what it is to be disciples (Mark 10.35-45).

Here’s what Sundays and Seasons has to say about this week’s gospel passage:

Today’s gospel starts with disciples obsessing over who will be closest to Jesus, leading to Jesus teaching his followers about God’s take on importance and power. Here Jesus makes it explicit that the reversal of values in God’s community is a direct challenge to the values of the dominant culture, where wielding power over others is what makes you great. When we pray “your kingdom come” we are praying for an end to tyranny and oppression. We pray this gathered around the cross, a sign of great shame transformed to be the sign of great honour and service.

Sunday, 10 October 2021 – National Thanksgiving

Our 10 o’clock Eucharist will be live-streamed to YouTube. The stream will begin at about 9:45 with a welcome and musical preludes, and the service will begin at 10 am.

The order of service is available here.

This week we observe the Harvest Thanksgiving festival. Here’s what Sundays and Seasons offers as a reflection on the readings assigned to the day:

Today’s readings reflect two of the strains that go into the celebration of a national day of thanksgiving: gratitude for abundant harvest (Joel) and civic prayer for a peaceable common life (1 Timothy). The core meaning of Thanksgiving for many of us—a home feast for extended family and friends—is not reflected in the readings; but it is reflected weekly in the church’s meal of thanksgiving (eucharist). What we wish for both these thanksgiving meals is that they will go deeper than celebration of one another and our own blessings, to recognize in our true Host one who wants everyone brought to the table.

Meister Eckhart was an Augustinian monk, theologian, philosopher, and mystic who lived from about 1260 to about 1328, in what’s now central Germany. A quotation attributed to him captures a deep truth about our faith in God in Christ, that’s especially apt this weekend:

If the only prayer you ever say in your life is thank you,
it will be enough.

St. Francis Services and Blessing of the Animals! (October 3)

We’re excited to welcome the Reverend Canon Mike Deed as our guest preacher this Sunday! We’ll be observing the Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi. There will be in-person celebrations of the Eucharist at 8am and at 10am, and the 10am service will be live-streamed to YouTube. Join in live or later from anywhere with an internet connection.

The order of service is available at this link.

St. Francis is known in part for his close connection with the natural world, and one story about Francis tells of him sharing the good news of Christ with animals. A custom that has grown from that story is to bless animals on Francis’ feast day.

Blessing of the Animals

On October 3, from 11:30 to 12:30 drop in with your pet for a blessing! Weather-permitting, we’ll be outside in the gardens (enter via the parking lot on Barons Ave.); with inclement weather, we’ll bless the animals inside in the halls (entrance off parking lot). We’re not doing a special service, so feel free to drop by at any time during that hour which is convenient for you!

Sunday Service – 26 September 2021

Our 10 o’clock Eucharist will be live-streamed to YouTube. The stream will begin at about 9:45 with a welcome and musical preludes, with the service beginning at 10 am.

The order of service is available here.

Here’s what Sundays and Seasons offers as a reflection on this week’s readings:

Someone who isn’t part of Jesus’ own circle is casting out demons in Jesus’ name, and the disciples want him stopped. They appeal to Jesus, as Joshua did to Moses about the elders who prophesied without official authorization. Like Moses, Jesus refuses to see this as a threat. Jesus welcomes good being done in his name, even when it is not under his control. The circle we form around Jesus’ word must be able to value good being done in ways we wouldn’t do it, by people we can’t keep tabs on.

Here at Nativity, the preacher intends to focus on the first reading, from Esther. The wikipedia article on the book of Esther is a pretty decent introduction!

Sunday Service – September 19th, 2021

This week’s Sunday services will be held in-person at 8:00 am and 10:00 am. Please contact the office to register if you would like to attend in person.

The 10:00 am service will also be simultaneously live-streamed to YouTube.

and you can find the Order of Service here.

Jesus welcomes the children – Mark 10:13-16

This Sunday is the 17th Sunday after Pentecost. Here’s what Sundays and Seasons says about the readings that we’ll hear:

Today we hear James warn against selfish ambition, while the disciples quarrel over which one of them is the greatest. Jesus tells them the way to be great is to serve. Then, to make it concrete, he puts in front of them a flesh-and-blood child. We are called to welcome the children God puts in front of us, to make room for them in daily interaction, and to give them a place of honour in the assembly.

The image from the Jesus MAFA project is used with permission.
JESUS MAFA. Jesus welcomes the children, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48395 [retrieved September 17, 2021]. Original source: http://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr (contact page: https://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr/contact).

Sunday Service – September 12

We are resuming in-person services this Sunday! We’re tremendously excited for that, and are committed to doing so safely. All who wish to attend will need to register with the parish office to come to the 8:00 am service or the 10:00 am service. We continue to mask, maintain physical distance, and refrain from singing and other activities that would increase potential risk of spread of the COVID-19 vaccine. We also strongly encourage everyone to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and our leadership is required to do so by the diocese.

We’ll also continue to stream a service to YouTube each week! Please note that the time of the Sunday service that is streamed has moved to 10:00 am. If you’re unable to be present with us in person, and/or don’t feel comfortable being in groups at this time, please know you continue to be welcomed and valued: our investment in our sound and streaming system is designed to make it easier for all to worship together from anywhere!

This week’s order of service can be found here.

It’s the sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost this week, and our parish’s fifteenth birthday! Here’s what Sundays and Seasons writes about this week’s readings:

Three weeks ago we heard Peter’s confession of faith as told in John’s gospel. This week we hear Mark’s version, when Peter says, “You are the Messiah.” In John, the stumbling block is Jesus’ invitation to eat his flesh, given for the life of the world. In Mark too the scandal has to do with Jesus’ words about his own coming death, and here Peter himself stumbles over Jesus’ words. But Jesus is anointed (the meaning of messiah) in Mark only on the way to the cross (14:3); so we are anointed in baptism with the sign of the cross.

Sunday Prayers – August 15th – St. Mary the Virgin

Our Sunday Prayers service will be live-streamed to YouTube on August 15th, and you’ll be able to join in live or later at your convenience. After some music to help us prepare, the service will begin at 9:30 am. The link to this Sunday’s service is here.

Here’s a link to the order of service, to help you join in with the prayers.

This Sunday is a Holy Day–one of a very small number that take precedence over a Sunday. The name varies among the different expressions of Christianity; we keep the Holy Day of St. Mary the Virgin. Our Lutheran siblings style it Mary, Mother of Our Lord, while our Roman Catholic siblings name it The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and our Orthodox siblings call it the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God–which is closest to what we Anglicans called it in the Book of Common Prayer: The Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

You might wonder there are so many different names for a day we all celebrate. Did you notice, too, all the different ways of referring to Mary? St. Mary the Virgin, Mary the Mother of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, the theotokos (God-bearer), … and that’s just the top of the list!

We honour Mary who chooses to say yes to God. We honour Mary who participates in God’s remaking of the world in Jesus Christ. And yet, the bible doesn’t tell us all that much about her. The evangelist Luke describes her as a virgin living in Nazareth, in Galilee. In both Matthew and Luke, Mary conceives a child and gives birth to him. We also hear that her husband/fiancé (Matthew and Luke don’t quite agree) is named Joseph. After that introduction, we hear scattered bits and pieces. The bible is silent about Mary’s death–or her falling asleep, or dormition. Long-standing tradition holds that she died without suffering, in a state of spiritual peace. In keeping with centuries of tradition, the Roman Catholic Church dogmatically defined in 1950 that Mary “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”

Sundays and Seasons makes an important point about what we do hear about Mary in the bible:

Mary’s role is not limited to giving birth to Jesus and mothering him in his childhood. In John’s gospel, she is among the women standing near the cross; in Acts, she is among the disciples awaiting the gift of the Spirit. Through all that happened she continued to see how God was at work through her son, keeping the ancient promises to her ancestors, brushing aside the rich and powerful, and focusing on those as poor and powerless as Mary herself.

This Sunday, we’ll hear Mary’s song of praise to God, and rejoice in God’s hopes for each and all of us.

Sunday Prayers – 8 August, 2021

Sunday Prayers will be live-streamed to YouTube. The service will begin at 9:30 am, following about ten minutes of prelude music. It will be available at the same link to watch later, as well.

The order of service is available here.

Here’s what Sundays and Seasons writes about this week’s readings.

Jesus says that the bread he gives for the life of the world is his flesh, and whoever eats this bread has eternal life now and will be raised on the last day. In Ephesians Paul tells us what this life Jesus gives us looks like, this life we live as those marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit in baptism. We live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. The whole purpose of life is giving yourself for the other.

The image above is a picture of the Artoklasia–the breaking of bread service–from the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Toronto. It is used under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.
Artoklasia, or Breaking of Bread service, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55902 [retrieved August 5, 2021]. Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2013-08-14–Artoklasia_during_Feast_of_the_Dormition_of_the_Virgin_Mary.JPG.