THE CAT’S MEOW
St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Port Hope
Ascension Sunday 24 May 2020
Artwork: Ceiling of Palais Garnier (Paris Opera). 1964. Marc Chagall (1887-1985) Oil on canvas. Reading: John 17.1-11 (printed below)
AFTER saying this, Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said: Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you; 2 so that, just as you have given him power over all humanity, he may give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him. 3 And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I have glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, glorify me with that glory I had with you before ever the world existed. 6 I have revealed your name to those whom you took from the world to give me. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now at last they have recognised that all you have given me comes from you 8 for I have given them the teaching you gave to me, and they have indeed accepted it and know for certain that I came from you, and have believed that it was you who sent me. 9 It is for them that I pray. I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. 10 All I have is yours and all you have is mine, and in them I am glorified. 11 I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one, as we are one.
IN MY last two essays based on Jesus’ farewell discourse, I likened the spiritual journey (as so many spiritual masters before me have) to a human love affair, a seduction. I have referred to God as the lover, as the one into whose rooms we are beckoned one after the other as we are prepared spiritually to move into them and make our home in them: rooms that, to borrow from Theresa of Avila, make up our interior castle. Jesus has been our guide in this. His love letter to his disciples is teaching in how, after his departure, the Spirit will come and guide us further, leading us into all truth. This is not truth as learned formally in classrooms or study groups (although truth learned in such settings may forms one of our castle’s rooms, one we may need to return to in the course of our spiritual journey), but truth as it is revealed in the midst of life’s vagaries, its ordinariness—even in the drudgery that a serious and consistent life of prayer can become for many people. It’s been said that if Easter is the wedding feast of lover and beloved, then Ascension is their nuptial chamber. For us, as beloveds of Christ, the ten-day period between Ascension Day and Pentecost—Ascensiontide—signifies a liminal or threshold period: a period of waiting, of uncertainty, of expectation. It is at once pregnant with possibility and fraught with paradox and ambiguity. It is a period that bids us surrender in dark faith to deeper conversion, to our vocation as beloveds drawn ever more closely to that inner chamber within ourselves. This is the chamber wherein God himself awaits our arrival as his beloveds. Awaits us as beloveds transformed into the likeness of Christ, into the likeness of him who has arrived ahead of us, and has been glorified in God’s presence with the glory he had before the world began (Jn 17.5). Like the disciples who stared into the sky as Jesus departed from them, we can along the spiritual journey (Acts 1.10). Which makes Ascensiontide not a once per year event but one we may experience again and again. John of the Cross put our Ascensiontide feelings, apprehension and vulnerability, succinctly, saying: Why, since You wounded This heart, don’t You heal it? And why, since You stole it from me, Do You leave it so, And fail to carry off what You have stolen?* Like the disciples who asked Jesus if this was the time at which he would restore the kingdom of Israel (Acts 1.6), we ask today why he does not take us now into the inner chamber where he already is. The short answer to the question is, “Because the work in us is not complete.” How can we live in a glory of which we have no experience? How can we live in God’s glory when the glory we have lived in is the shadow glory of this world—a glory motivated by ego, selfish desire, and perceived needs? As beloveds who ache to become united with our lover, our source and our end, we are asked to stumble our way towards holiness. We stumble, says John of the Cross again, “with no other light than the one burning in [our] heart.” And the light of the Spirit. As we do this, these lights become integrated with the shadows of ambiguity and waiting, of feeling orphaned, of not having needs met. The situation we face today as people living in the midst of a pandemic is one of an imposed Ascensiontide. Whether one is a person of prayer or not, whether one is religious or not, in these times one navigates the corridor of Ascensiontide life—of life characterized by unknowns and uncertainties. These are qualities that most people do not live with comfortably or patiently. For the person of faith this means living life as it must always be lived: in prayer for ourselves and for others. Prayer for the world and its suffering. Prayer in community. It must also include times of intentional prayerful silence, including a practice of Centering Prayer or Christian meditation. For in such prayer our perception—our knowledge—of God is given opportunity to expand beyond that which may still be governed by the limits of familiar words and limited perceptions. What is needed to enter God’s throne room within is prayer that takes us beyond our familiar images and concepts. While such concepts may allow us to remain comfortably in the outer ring of our interior castle, to remain there when we are prompted to do otherwise stalls movement towards the centre where God awaits us. Chagall’s ceiling for the Paris opera house gathers the spiritual and earthly aspects inherent in Jesus’ love letter. “Chagall’s was a religious, even mystical spirit for whom love was the force that bound together and moved everything in the universe, whose creatures and objects were part of a total motion without top or bottom, gravity or resistance…” ** Such a binding together in love is the skill we learn in Ascensiontide and whenever ambiguity, uncertainty, and waiting characterize our living. They help us to integrate certainty with uncertainty. They move everything in the universe towards its end, towards its glory. RM+
*John of the Cross, The Spiritual Canticle
SUNDAY, MAY 24, 2020
Evensong (and more!) for Ascension Sunday, May 24, 2020
This week’s service leaflet link is at the end of this issue – the service features choristers Killari and Iris Geale Quispe, with Fr Randy leading the prayers.
The link above is the ‘official’ Evensong link for Ascension Sunday.
Those living close to the church will know that our recording session on Wednesday was rather more exciting than usual.
After Fr Randy’s censing of the altar at the Magnificat, the fire alarm went off – and it was 30 minutes before the local Fire Dept. rep. was able to shut it off!
No more candles for the rest of the service – as you may notice in the ‘official’ video. Fr Randy shifts ‘suddenly’ as well for the Magnificat Gloria – we needed a full crew from Hollywood to manage a Continuity re-set!
The singers were unfazed, and finished the service.
A 1-minute clip of the start of the alarm had reached 2,100+ views in just over 24 hours – a record for us! The shortened, ‘alarm’ clip can be seen here:
By the way, Dr Giles Bryant’s wife Beverley sent word of the ‘alarm’ that Giles knew ‘he was always hot stuff’.
When viewing, you may wish to check the Settings icon, at the bottom right of the YouTube view, and change to 720p, to improve the quality.
FLOWERS THIS WEEK
We will print the dedications for flowers that would have been placed in the church each Sunday.
May 24: In memory of Derek Mitchell, Mary and Donald Wilson and Lew and Phyllis Wheatley, from Jen Mitchell
THIS WEEK’S READINGS Should you wish to follow the Lectionary at home, here are the readings:
Acts 1: 1-11; Eph 1: 15-23; Luke 24: 44-53 Psalm 47 or 93
Through The Cat’s Meow we can gather in the names of those who are suffering in body, mind or spirit at this time and for whom you have a special concern and we can each undertake to lift them up in prayer before God.
Let us have names by next Friday and they will be included in the next issue.
PENTECOST JACOB’S LADDER
Pentecost falls on May 31, 2020. Although it is likely that we will not be able to meet face-to-face by that time, it would be good to share your thoughts and lockdown experiences in Jacob’s Ladder. Please drop articles off at the church mailbox or electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org by May25.
Information for “Among Friends” can be provided directly to Claire Mowat (905 885 6695) or I will print your email and drop it in her letter slot.
A GIFT FOR FATHER RANDY You are invited to consider making a donation in celebration of Fr Randy’s incumbency at St. Mark’s to either of the following charities:
Doctors without Borders
551 Adelaide St. West
Toronto, ON M5V 0N8
Nature Conservancy of Canada
245 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 410
Toronto, ON M4P 3J1
The bills keep coming in, even though we are shut. If you usually use your envelopes to give, please consider mailing in your donation or putting it in the mail box by the parish hall door.
Better still, change to PAR and avoid having to remember each month. It’s so easy!
Although the Diocese has given us Jubilee relief for April, May, and now June as well, meaning that we don’t have to remit to the Diocese our assessment and our clergy and rectory costs. However, our overall financial picture is tenuous at best and we mustn’t become complacent about the real costs of keeping St. Mark’s open as a living faith community, physically and spiritually. Like it or not, we continue to pay for utilities and services of all kinds that keep us in good shape behind the scenes and our givings are simply not keeping up.
These costs are the responsibility of every member of St Mark’s, as faithful stewards of the gifts that we all share. We each have different abilities to provide our gifts of treasure, but in doing this, we recognize that we are simply returning some of what has been given to us by God. This is one of the foundations of our faith:
Everyone must give according to what (they) inwardly decide; not sadly, not grudgingly, for God loves a cheerful giver. Corinthians 2 9:7
invite you to a
Saturday, May 30, 2020
$20 per person
Deadline for “tickets” – MAY 25th
STAY AT HOME. DRINK YOUR OWN WINE, EAT YOUR OWN FOOD!
NO WORK FOR US!
Cheques made out to St. Mark’s can be dropped off in box outside Parish Hall. (Tax receipts will be issued.)
GRATUITIES ALWAYS APPRECIATED!
If we get 40 people signed up, we will then do a SILENT AUCTION on EMAIL for those who are “attending”.
News From the Wardens
Although St. Mark’s like all Anglican Churches remains closed, nonetheless there has been activity. Doug Armstrong has cleared the large bed and three small beds behind the rectory and they will be seeded.
White Glove Window Cleaning were hired to clean the Parish Hall windows, possibly the first full cleaning since the Hall was built! They did a terrific and comprehensive job, inside and out. We also intend to have the floor of the Parish Hall stripped and sealed while we have the no-traffic opportunity.
Because the border between Canada and the USA is closed to non-essential traffic until June 21, Fr. Randy continues to be our Incumbent. What is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and men often going awry?
St. Mark’s Annual FaithWorks Campaign Has Begun
FaithWorks is the annual appeal of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto. FaithWorks has been active since 1996. Ministry Partners provide help and hope to thousands of individuals and families caught up in the seemingly overwhelming challenges of homelessness, domestic violence, terminal illness, or the enormous pressures facing today’s youth, all exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Information packages will be hand-delivered to your home soon. Please prayerfully consider your ability to help. Thank you!
Ascension Sunday – May 24, 2020
St Mark’s Anglican Church, Port Hope, Ontario
Presider: Fr Randy D. Murray,
Choristers: Killari (officiant) and Iris Geale Quispe
Welcome and Opening Sentence
The Preces Smith of Durham
Psalm 24 Tone VII.5
First Lesson Acts 1.1-11
Magnificat Giles Bryant in F
Second Lesson Luke 24.44-53.
Nunc Dimittis Tone I.4
Then shall be said the Confession of the Faith, called the Apostles’ Creed
I BELIEVE in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell; The third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; The holy Catholic Church; The Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body, And the Life everlasting. Amen.
And after the Creed, further prayers will be sung, then:
OUR Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.
Hymn 491 The Head That Once Was Crowned
1 The head that once was crowned with thorns
is crowned with glory now;
a royal diadem adorns
the mighty Victor’s brow.
2 The highest place that heav’n affords
is his, is his by right,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
and heav’n’s eternal Light:
3 The joy of all who dwell above,
the joy of all below,
to whom he manifests his love,
and grants his name to know.
4 To them the cross, with all its shame,
with all its grace, is giv’n;
their name an everlasting name,
their joy the joy of heav’n.
5 They suffer with the Lord below,
they reign with him above;
their profit and their joy to know
the myst’ry of his love.
6 The cross he bore is life and health,
though shame and death to him;
his people’s hope, his people’s wealth,
their everlasting theme.
THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.