Going to the Polls

I’ve taken my son with me each and every time I’ve voted in his lifetime–municipally, provincially, and federally. What’s struck me the last few times he’s accompanied me to the polls is how insightful his questions are and how deeply he thinks about some of the issues. It’s exciting to be part of helping him to become an informed and engaged citizen!

One of the hardest things about the election period is making sense of how our faith shapes our response to the campaigns. My commitment to Jesus means I feel the need to ask some particular questions of candidates and party leaders: not as some shibboleth or litmus test that they need to get right, but to see how they make decisions–and particularly how they care for the dignity and well-being of all Canadians as individuals as well as Canada as a community. I think of these questions as a work of discernment: where is God leading us? How do I share in caring for my fellow Canadians? These are matters of faith, and my responses are grounded in the promises I’ve made in the baptismal covenant.

The Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) has issued a helpful guide entitled Justice, and Only Justice, Shall You Pursue. It offers background information to some critical topics that face Canadians, together with suggested questions we might ask candidates. It also has resources for ways we can learn more about those topics and get involved beyond the campaign period. The 2019 focal points include refugees, peace and disarmament, climate, reconciliation, poverty, palliative care, religious freedom, sexual exploitation, and public health care.

I encourage you to check out the CCC’s guide. It’s a great starting point for conversations that the Anglican Church of Canada has been part of for many years, and that we as Canadians need to be part of as we desire–and work for–a better country.

– Matthew

Circle of Love, Support, and Solidarity

Let’s show our support for our Muslim neighbours!

Our major celebrations of worship each week as Christians typically happen on Sunday mornings, as we celebrate the good news of the resurrection. Our friends, neighbours, and fellow citizens who are Muslim gather on Fridays, just after mid-day for their principal service, called صلاة الجمعة‎ — ṣalāt al-jumu‘ah.

Last Friday as they gathered for prayers at the Linwood Islamic Centre and the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, many worshippers were shot. At least fifty men, women, and children as young as three years of age, were killed while they prayed.

As the Muslim community of Hamilton meets for jumu’ah this Friday, we are invited to be part of forming a circle of love, support, and solidarity outside mosques. We’ll stand together in witness to the power of love over hate, sharing the love we meet in Jesus Christ, and responding to our baptismal promise to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being!

  • Friday, March 22nd
  • outside the Mountain Mosque (1545 Stone Church Rd E, Hamilton), gathered with fellow Christians, followers of Judaism, and other concerned citizens
  • jumu’ah begins at 1:30 and finishes around 2:30

Christmas Traditions

Even as we prepare to celebrate God making God’s home with us, the God we meet in Jesus Christ, we all have important personal traditions. For many, it’s a special feast; for others, travelling; still others can’t imagine Christmas without a particular carol.

Some folk need to watch Elf or Alister Sim in Scrooge (… or the better one, where Kermit plays Bob Cratchit…). There are all kinds of stories that help us appreciate even more deeply the good news we hear in Luke’s gospel.

One favourite is a story by Stuart McLean, called “Dave Cooks the Turkey.” It’s in McLean’s Home from the Vinyl Cafe: A Year of Stories collection.

From now through twelfth night, enjoy our rector reading “Dave Cooks the Turkey” at the link below. Whatever your traditions, may your Christmas be full of rejoicing: Christ comes into our midst, and draws us into God’s loving embrace. Happy Christmas!

Dave Cooks the Turkey by Stuart McLean


Bells for Peace


On July 28, 1914, the First World War began. On August 4th, the United Kingdom declared war on Germany, bringing the then Dominion of Canada into the war. Speaking with a friend the night before, the British Foreign Secretary—Sir Edward Grey—remarked that “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”
The threat of aerial bombardments and shelling meant that the nights grew much darker, as opposing forces tried to prevent their enemies from knowing just where they were. Some of the normal joyous sounds of city and village life also quieted so as not to declare their location, and the ringing of church bells ceased.
This year’s Remembrance Day marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the first World War. A century ago, communities spontaneously celebrated with the ringing of bells that had long been silent during the war. Relieved and rejoicing, people around the world began to see the dawn of hope.
To mark the centenary of the end of the World War I, the Royal Canadian Legion has invited Churches and places of Worship with bells to ring them one hundred times, beginning at sunset on November 11th.
Please gather with us on November 11, on the front porch of the church as we join in the Legion’s Bells for Peace initiative. We’ll meet at 4:30, and all present will be able to join in the ringing of our bell as we mark the anniversary. To remember is to work for peace.

April 15th Services Cancelled

Snow StormIce Storm Causes Unsafe Roads,
Cancelled Services

Due to this weekend’s massive winter storm with significant amounts of freezing rain and high winds, all services at the Church of the Nativity are cancelled on April 15, 2018.

We join with Anglicans throughout the Diocese of Niagara in praying:
Creator God,
be present as this storm moves through our cities and towns;
warm our hearts with acts of loving kindness;
and watch over those working to keep us safe;
through Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Ecumenical Worship in Lent

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity may have concluded yesterday, but here in East Hamilton we’re gearing up for the most visible expression of that unity in our community. For thirty-two years now, parishes of multiple denominations have gathered together on the Wednesday nights in Lent for worship and social time. Whether we start with food and then worship or vice versa, folk from Faith Lutheran, Holy Cross Roman Catholic, Pioneer Memorial United and St. Columba Presbyterian, and the Church of the Nativity have welcomed others from the neighbourhood as we prepare with joy to celebrate Easter! We move from one community’s normal place of worship to the next on successive Wednesdays. The priest or minister from the host community presides at the service, and one from somewhere else offers a reflection.

Each year, a theme ties the services together; this year, our focus is Journey Toward the Cross. We’ll tell the stories of significant moments in the life of Jesus that offer a glimpse of what God’s overwhelming love will look like in the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Together we’ll hear about Anna and Simeon meeting the Messiah, and offering prophecies; about Jesus and God’s message being rejected in Jesus’ hometown; about the disciple Peter recognizing who Jesus is–and also not getting what that good news means; and about Jesus chasing from the temple all who try to limit everyone’s access to God.

Below this post, you’ll find a list of the service locations on the four nights of the series. We hope that they’ll feed you as together we prepare with joy to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus and the new life God offers in the fullness of God’s love!

Date Location Speaker
February 21 Holy Cross The Reverend Tim Kennedy
February 28 St. Columba & Pioneer Pastor Merz
March 7 Church of the Nativity Father Marijan
March 14 Faith Lutheran The Reverend Canon David Linn
Representatives of faith communities in Hamilton light candles as part of an ecumenical service during Lent 2017.

Representatives of faith communities in Hamilton light candles as part of an ecumenical service during Lent 2017. Photo (c) William Pleydon.

Congratulations Elsie and Kath!

We offer our congratulations to Mrs. Elsie Biegler and Ms. Kath Dubecki, whom the bishop made members of the Order of Niagara at services on the 1st and 15th of October of this year. As the bishop shook their hands, and presented them with the medal of the order, the Dean read the citations that can’t capture their phenomenal records of service to church and community. We’re pleased to share those with you.

ON - ElsieMrs. Elsie Biegler: The bishop didn’t appoint Elsie to the Order of Niagara because of their mutual love of curling, but rather because of the values that Elsie has promoted in her life and volunteering. Under her leadership, the Royal Victoria Curling Club has reached out to LBTQ and youth populations in the city, and been a gracious host to the Bishop’s Company Bonspiel. Her passion for community flourishing has built strong relationships with city counsellors and other civic leaders and resulted in a number of projects coming to fruition. She has served as a warden and on parish council at the Church of the Nativity–to which she always walks–and has offered both questions and wisdom that have helped with large parish decisions, smaller educational groups, and parish life events.

ON - KathMs. Kath Dubecki: Kath’s dedication, commitment, and passion for the mission of the church have been unflagging over many years and even multiple communities. She has served as a warden, a lay delegate to Synod, a member of Synod Council, a chorister, and a member of parish councils. Of particular note at the Church of the Nativity is her role as one of the organizers of the parish’s community lunch program since its inception. Her perspicacity, warmth, determination and good humour and humility make her a joy-filled companion on the journey of discipleship.



Congratulations Kath and Elsie!

Holy Conversations, Part 2

Church of the Nativity, Hamilton

Favourite Hymns

April 30, 2017

The goal of this activity is to help the congregation get a clearer sense of their faith culture; shared beliefs and God-stories, shared practices

Share the title, first line, refrain of your favourite hymn, and why it is so powerful for you; going beyond the simple “the words” or “the music” to the ways in which the text is particularly meaningful or the ways in which the music is particularly moving or transformative.

Silent Night:  calming, inspirational, uplifting, makes me thankful and happy and hopeful

On Eagle’s Wings:  lifts my spirits, makes me feel safe, healing, keeps me above negativity

Dear Lord & Father of Mankind:  reminds me of school days, comforts me and it covers all aspects of life

Let My Little Light Shine aka This Little Light of Mine:  makes us feel better, reminds us to do nice things for other people, and gets me to be a better person

Rock of Ages:  sense of there for everybody, providing comfort, sense of strength

Just As I am:  how I want to be accepted by God and everyone, teaches me to accept others, everyone is loved

It’s a Wonderful World:  Positive, caring, joyful in spite of the world’s ills. God is everywhere, nature is beautiful

Hymn of Promise (There is a Flower):  resurrection, end of our earthly life isn’t the end, more to come, God is always there for us, does things in God’s time not ours

Amazing Grace:  makes me cry, reminds me of my mom, when I’m alone, this is what I turn to for comfort, promises

From the Falter of Breath:  reminder of God’s presence and care in every moment

On Eagle’s Wings:  Proclaims God’s promise to always care for us and protect us

Jerusalem:  vision of God, imaginative and spiritual, images resonate with me

We’ll Sing in the Morning:  the tempo engages my body lively, lifts my spirits

Power in The Blood:  rousing music, power brings back childhood

Christ The Lord is Risen:  uplifting, promise of what’s to come, gives me goosebumps

Jesus Loves Me:  Childhood memory, Jesus always there no matter what your circumstances,

Mary, Did You Know? foreshadowing of Jesus’ life thru Mary’s eyes, different perspective, sorrow of mother over destiny of child despite understanding the value of what’s to come


Part 2

What does what we was just shared about our favourite the hymns/songs tell us about how we see God?

  • Always there for us
  • Protective
  • No matter how circumstances change, God stays the same – the Rock
  • Forgiving
  • Our refuge
  • A positive force
  • What God says goes
  • Friend
  • Lifts us up when we are down
  • Hope
  • Here for us even when we aren’t her for God – constant
  • Loving
  • Healing
  • Comforting
  • Accepting
  • All powerful
  • Unconditional never –ending love
  • Positive energy
  • Living being cloaked in light who communicates with us
  • God is who we need God to be when we need something
  • Transformative
  • Patient
  • Spirit living in my heart

And what do those hymn choices say about how we see human life?

  • We need help from one another and God
  • Called to action in God’s ways
  • Essential
  • Fragile
  • Seekers
  • Needful
  • Need forgiving
  • Need friends – community
  • We are all worth helping
  • Need to be more forgiving
  • Possibility for change
  • Created in the divine image
  • Listen to God and each other
  • Essential to the planet (caregiver)
  • Here to spread God’s word
  • To act in justice, love, heal, forgive, share gifts
  • Meant to struggle to live all these things in our daily lives as example and as change agent
  • Willingness to do right thing even when change in others isn’t obvious…where it seems there is no reward
  • Love everyone even if you don’t like (respect?)
  • Persist no matter how often we fail
  • To teach about God’s way – adults and children
  • Gives us tools/skills to put that teaching into action (living God’s way)
  • Constant to values/God’s way in a culture that doesn’t support our values
  • Not just about what happens on Sunday; God’s way has to be part of daily life – for example, reclaiming Sabbath time – create a couple of hours at a time…our midweek service/social/book study meets that need
  • Show understanding and respect for other religious/faith walks

Given all of this reflection, what do we see as the purpose for our congregation?

  • Listen to Spirit, function as change agent, open and receptive to change discernment – be responsive to the world in which God placed you
  • Walk in God’s way – kind, generous, loving, forgiving,
  • Regardless of our shortcomings, we need to remember to act out of our call
  • Church is the community and people around us
  • Reconnect with the message of the Ten Commandments

Remember that our actions can separate us (not that God leaves us) and part of the purpose of worship is reconnecting with the God that loves us

Holy Conversations, Part 1

Our first session of the Holy Conversations process happened on March 26th. Canon Christyn Perkons was with us for both Sunday services, and preached a fine sermon explaining the process and sharing with us some of its fruits in other communities.

During coffee hour, we explored two big questions as we began. What follows are the notes from that session. A reminder that everyone connected with the Church of the Nativity is invited to participate in any and all of the sessions: the wider our communal discernment, the better! Our next time will be April 30th, at about 11:15.


Church of the Nativity, Hamilton

Holy Conversations #1

March 26, 2017


What brings us joy; nourishes us?

  • Services
    • Seasonal variety
    • Homilies
    • Involvement
  • Music
    • Language – Choir
    • Tunes
  • Warm Welcome
    • Friendships – talk about feelings/spirituality
    • Less judgement
    • Intimacy
  • Forgiveness – from God
  • Pastoral Care
    • Rector
    • Parishioners
    • “Caring Community”
    • Inclusive
  • Wednesday Services
    • Intimacy – informal
    • Interactive
  • Outreach
  • Love of God
  • Children
  • Sense of community
  • Coffee Hour
    • Food
    • Camaraderie
  • Music
    • Peter – Brings out best in choir; knows us, integral part of the community
    • Anthems work for our strengths
    • Right music for services
  • Ministry Team
  • Way building is used
    • By us
    • By other groups
  • Opportunity for personal reflection
  • Interaction with kids
  • Surroundings
    • Ambiance and sense of holiness
  • Matthew is a special gift to us
    • Listen, love, authentic, person
    • Lack of judgement
    • Sermons talk about and touch our lives
    • 6th sense about when people need him
    • Creates a sense of intimacy and inclusiveness
    • L & O each bring their own gifts and the family relationship is significant to us
  • Choir
    • Spirituality
    • Sense of family – extended
  • Spiritual nourishment
    • Well filled up
    • Food for week ahead
  • Belonging
  • Being active participant in something bigger than self
  • Diverse involvement


What would be missing if Nativity wasn’t here?

  • User groups as an avenue to Faith Community
  • Community wouldn’t feel like community
  • A gathering place for seniors
  • A place where people can find help
  • Events in which the community engages
  • Ecumenical services
  • The spiritual presence
  • Our regular upholding in prayer of our neighbourhood
  • Sign of God’s presence and peace for our neighbours and those who drive by
  • Place in which the neighbourhood can gather as a community
  • Cross – generational time
  • Children
    • Witnesses to Faith community
    • Carrying the Christian way out into their schools, their recreational activities and their friendships
  • Supportive/caring community
  • Outreach
    • Support, e.g., Matthew’s House
  • Sign
    • Reflection, witness
  • Historic presence in Hamilton (1881)
  • Resurrection symbols
  • Faith on exterior




Palm Project Excitement!

While these photos are from last year, as is the text below, you’ll see most of the same faces if you pop in and see the hardworking crew making Palm Crosses and Strips. Here’s a sense of what happens in the Palm Project.

Each year as Lent deepens at the Nativity, a crew of parishioners and friends come out to join in the annual Palm Project. This year was the twenty-fourth year in which the parish has organized and prepared palm fronds, palm strips, and palm crosses for parishes throughout Hamilton and even as far away as Alberta!

Gathering around 9am and working until 2pm over five days, a gallant crew carefully trimmed more than 5000 strips for distribution, and made more to prepare the more than 5000 crosses they folded!

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what’s involved in a project of this scale.

IMG_0132 Here’s where things start: Blanche and Martha are hard at work breaking apart the palms from the tight-knit, folded-up way they come to us, just off the tree. It’s a good work-out, as each bundle needs to be whacked against the floor to loosen things up before they start to be separated!
 Next up, Yvonne is hard at work trimming the now split apart fronds and starting to prepare some of the strips that will go out to parishes.  IMG_0133
 IMG_0136 John is hard at work trimming both the length and the width of the strips, so that crosses can be made from them.
 IMG_0137 You can see Brian’s focus as he begins to form the loop that will be the arm of a palm cross.
 Susan pauses to smile indulgently at the photographer, having formed both arms of the cross she’s folding.  IMG_0135
 IMG_0138  Jim trims up the edges of the cross he’s just finished folding. Sadly, this shot doesn’t show his dog Koko, who doesn’t fold any crosses but does offer moral support with the project!
 Here’s the very last of the packages ready for pick-up–after a busy week of many being delivered, and many being collected.

The great thing about the week before Holy Week is time visiting with fellow Anglicans, and with people from a multitude of other denominations. On Sunday, we’ll all remember Jesus entering Jerusalem — and all that lies in store in the week ahead.


A final panorama shot of one day with folk hard at work.

May your celebrations this Holy Week and through the Great Three Days draw you closer to the unfolding mystery of God’s love!