Taken on Trust

Pastoral Letter for June 28, 2020

I’m wondering if anyone recognizes the face of this kind-eyed, elderly gentleman?

It belongs to Terry Waite, who back in 1980 was appointed by Robert Runcie to serve as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Assistant for Anglican Communion Affairs. In 1985, Terry Waite accompanied the Archbishop of Canterbury on a visit to Canada, that included a stop here in Regina (does anybody remember?) and Edmonton, where I was able to attend a special diocesan service to mark the occasion.

In his role, Terry Waite was involved in negotiating the release of Anglican clergy and British Nationals held hostage in the Middle East.  But Terry Waite was himself kidnapped in Beirut in 1987 by members of the Islamic Jihad, and spent the next four years in solitary confinement, before finally being released.  Throughout those years, a member of the chapel community that I was a part of then, would constantly intercede for Terry at our weekly Eucharist. “Taken on Trust” was the title of the book Terry wrote about his experiences.

In an interview in 2013, Terry Waite was asked how he coped during all this time in isolation in a dark cell. 

He said,

You have got to be able to discipline your mind, because everything is lived from within. There is no external stimulation. There is no books, no one to speak with, no one to feed your identity back to you.

I was fortunate, firstly, because through life I had been an avid reader and therefore I had built up a store of books, poetry and prose in my memory. Secondly, I’d been brought up as an Anglican—I’m an Anglican Christian—and had been brought up with the Book of Common Prayer. The language of that was very, very helpful. I had unconsciously memorised it as a choir boy. If I can just give you an example of what I mean from one of the great old collects of the prayer book:

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night . . .

That is very, very meaningful when you’re sitting in darkness. That collect not only has meaning, but it also has poetry and rhythm. There is a relationship between identity, language and prayer; somehow they help you hold together at your centre.

Some people may find this strange, but I never engaged in what is called extemporary prayer during that time. I felt that if I did I would be begin to, sort of, go down a one-way track, reveal my own psychological vulnerability and just get into the business of saying, ‘Oh God, get me out of here’—which isn’t prayer at all. That’s just being like a child. So by falling back on that which I knew, the Prayer Book and the balance of that, I was able to keep a bit more balance in my mind and also maintain some degree of inner balance… (1)

Well, it’s been 15 weeks since we began our own “isolation” under COVID, and 15 weeks since we dusted off and started praying through The Order of Service for Morning Prayer from our own Book of Common Prayer. Some of us, perhaps, are getting a little tired of this, but then again, perhaps some of us are finding the poetry and rhythm of the prayers are working their way not only into our hearts, but our memories, giving us an anchor for the soul in these tumultuous times.  As Terry Waite discovered, “ life is lived from within” and “there is a relationship between identity, language, and prayer that help you hold together at your centre…and also  maintain some degree of inner balance.”

With every prayer and blessing, from “my cell” to “yours”, as together we lift up holy hands, hearts and voices in prayer and praise to the Lord,

Claude + 

(1)For the whole thing see:  https://hope1032.com.au/stories/open-house/2013/terry-waite-break-my-body-bend-my-mind-but-my-soul-is-not-yours-to-possess/

A Prayer Posture in a Time of Uncertainty

by Henry Friesen

Almost exactly nine years ago my family and I were in Saskatoon attending the evening prayers and the funeral service for one of my older brothers.  As he and his family were members of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, both services involved the liturgy of scripture, songs, prayers and acknowledgements. The open casket with my brother’s body was there and all of us had time to view him and pause for a few moments with the body.

Continue reading “A Prayer Posture in a Time of Uncertainty”

FROM THE RECTOR’S STUDY: ARE WE LIVING IN THE END TIMES?

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Viktor Vasnetsov (1887)

Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say, as with a voice of thunder, “Come!” And I saw, and behold, a white horse, and its rider had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” And out came another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that men should slay one another; and he was given a great sword.When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I saw, and behold, a black horse, and its rider had a balance in his hand; and I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; but do not harm oil and wine!”When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” And I saw, and behold, a pale horse, and its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him; and they were given power over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6. 1-8).

Are we living in the end times? 

Continue reading “FROM THE RECTOR’S STUDY: ARE WE LIVING IN THE END TIMES?”

A Word from the Rector

Dear Beloved People of St.Mary’s,

Some of you will perhaps recognize the figure of the man in civilian dress standing  to the right of centre of a group of uniformed British Army chaplains. It is C.S. Lewis, celebrated author of children’s stories, and most celebrated Anglican lay theologian of the 20th century.

In a lecture he gave to his students at Oxford University during World War II, Lewis said, “The war creates no absolutely new situation, it simply aggravates the permanent human  situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men has postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun. We are mistaken when we compare thewar with “normal life.” Life has never been normal.”

Replace “the war” with “the corona-virus” and you have some sobering words for us to take to heart in the midst of what we regard as an abnormal situation and our longing for and our wondering how long  before things return to normal…As far as our calling as Christians is concerned, nothing has changed. We must go about our business.

                                     “My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” 
                                     Your face, Lord, I will seek. (Psalm 27:9.)

On a practical front, please note the following:

  1. Public services of worship at St. Mary’s have been suspended until further notice.
  2. A phoning committee has been struck and will be contacting you to touch base either today or tomorrow.
  3. I have prepared an order of service for Morning Prayer with Sermon which I will be sending out tomorrow. I encourage you all to  create a beautiful space and read and pray through the service at home, knowing that though “spacially-distanced” from another, we have communion with Christ and with one another through  His Word and Holy Spirit.
  4. Pending the resolution of some technical issues, I may be able “live stream” the service on the St. Mary’s U-Tube channel on Sunday morning.
  5. I will be checking messages on the office answering machine at 306-522-6052 daily. Please call me at home for emergencies.
  6. You may also call Janice K, Churchwarden.

With love and prayer.
Yours faithfully,

Claude +