For much of the past few years, we have begun our services with these words of prayer: “In this time and place we gather on the unceded ancestral lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. From many places and peoples we come to this house of prayer. In this time and place, we meet in the presence of the living God. The living God who creates us and all that is. In this time and place, the risen Christ stands in our midst. The risen Christ who accompanies us and all people. In this time and place, God’s Holy Spirit breathes in and through us. The Holy Spirit who transforms us and all life. In this time and place, Together, one people of God.”
Time and Place is the second Holy Currency in the Stewardship 365 program that we at Christ Church Cathedral are exploring in this sermon series through this Easter season.
Let’s think about what we have been saying together. When we look at the concept of Time and Place in the Church. We have to appreciate the cultural framework for which we understand the setting and purpose for what the Church is.
Let us take the concept of Place first. The very form of a Parish has its historical and cultural definition in the Anglican Church. The Parish is the name that we call both the geographical area that the Church sits in, and also the congregation, the people of that time who sit within its boundaries.
The territorial acknowledgement that we say at the beginning of our services are in part a recognition that we, as the Church, have had a different understanding of the concept of Place historically than the peoples from whom we stole this land. Colonization is evident in the traditionally British sense of the Parish in our Church, which relies on an ability to be able to access all land. The way that our Church is organized is through the physical designation of the land into parishes, dioceses and provinces. That is an assumptive position that the Church has taken many years ago. And today we have made steps to address this assumption and work towards addressing our culture of the concept of Place. In 2019 the Anglican Church of Canada became the first Church in the Global Anglican Communion to create a non-geographical designation in the creation of the National Indigenous Church, a self-actualizing body, meaning that Indigenous Peoples within our Church have their own Archbishop and can make their own decisions based on their own desired governance in the Church in Canada. This move we celebrate and affirm in our reconciliation work, and this work represents a major shift in our concept of Place.
Another major shift that we have seen this past year is in our participation and worship from home. The Place of the Cathedral, the beauty of the architecture, the presence of the sacrament and people is something that has been absent from our lives. We have been worshipping in our own spaces, our own Places of being.These many months we have been living in a different reality of Place. In the past few months I have been a part of a working committee at the Cathedral in conversation around our Open Doors. We addressed the question that our Mission Statement possesses, when we speak of having Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds; what does it mean when cannot, for the safety of us all, Open our Doors? In this space we have been looking at our digital doorways, our points of access in how people get to us. And in this conversation, the reality of our being as Church is a new definition of Place.
At the beginning of the Pandemic, and at some different times, we have pre-recorded our services ahead of time to go live at our regular worship times here at the Cathedral. In my previous parish, I was a part of the decision making about whether we would pre-record or livestream the worship there and in our discussion we talked about what it meant theologically, liturgically and practically, by pre-recording worship, to shift our concept of time. The decision that we made together there, and the move that was made here at the Cathedral notes that, while our sense of Place is different, the presence of our shared time is something that we appreciate. But even as we live-stream our services, being present in the sense of Time, we as Church leaders this past year have been learning in a sense a new skill-set as it relates to the practice of presence. Education and formation in the leadership of the Church is not the same as the training for being a TV presenter, and that is an adjustment that we have had to make collectively across the Church. We have been asking the question, how do we find meaning in the ministry that we do, when so much of what makes us the Church is the collective in person experience. Being together is holy and instinctual, it is healing and restorative.
So how does that translate to what we do now? A lot of what Churches around the world have been doing through this time in addressing this shift in the concept of Time and Place, has been to adapt, to improvise. But as I observe this time, a lot of emphasis has been on defining this experience as temporary in the hope that it will become obsolete as we return to normal. And yet we are encountering stories of people who are able to come to be part of the Community when they couldn’t have been otherwise. Stories of housebound, distant, or otherwise struggling members who have felt seen and heard in ways that weren’t possible before. I wonder what opportunities we have discovered through this time and what might be important to keep doing, even when we are back. I encourage you to reflect on what has been the most life giving for you in this time of challenge and unrest.
During coffee hour after the service, I invite you to take part in this conversation and share your thoughts as we discuss together. What can we take from our learning through this time? How can we continue to use the technology that we have invested in, to best meet the needs of those who seek us?How can we use these things to preach truth in the world? As we reflect on the time and place through the pandemic, our homes have become our sanctuaries, our places of safety. Our cathedral sanctuary, though a little more empty than usual is still our focal point of our worship, it still solidifies our sense of place but it is not the limit to our ministry.We are so blessed to share and partake in the beauty and history of this building, that through its echoey stillness we wonder in awe at the mysteries of our faith.
We have discovered that a Church is more than a place of worship, more than a Place where the physical and spiritual intersect. It is home, it is community, it is fellowship. And more than this, it is where we are inspired to reach outward and where we meet to do so. Even through the pandemic our outward ministry has not stopped. More than the connection between the cathedral and our homes, our building has housed our outreach programs that even now are still so vital to carry on regardless of the challenges.We have been able to continue and even expand our ministries with our facilities, our community & staff. Through the maundy cafe, with thanks to volunteered time and new financial support we have increased our provision of feeding the hungry. Since just this past November we have gone from sharing 70 meals to now around 130 meals, three times a week. This growth more than ever needs our financial support and I ask if you are able to help us in that effort. This growth has affected our understanding of the importance of this need in our local community. This ministry has made us reevaluate our own perception of space & time together.
Time is vital, especially right now when pandemic blues are very real our collective patience is struggling as case numbers rise and we wait for the effects of immunity to take a hold in our province. When we think of the stewardship of Time in the Church, much remains consistent with what we have always asked. Time is something that we give and we are expected to give to help the activities of the Church take place. And we are grateful for the countless hours that people have given in their lives to the Church. We appreciate you sharing your time which you give in attendance, in membership & community and right now as we prepare to come back in person and once again open our time to the Church, we think about the ways in which our time can be used to reflect God’s purpose.
With this we look at the passage from Acts this morning which tells us: ‘Jesus, the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, has become the cornerstone.’ In the Church, Jesus is our firm foundation, our stronghold and cornerstone. The very bedrock of our church, is one of rejection, one of time given freely, one of sacrifice. This is what Jesus models for us, and what we are called to model and live out ourselves.With Christ as our cornerstone of time and place, we ask:Where might our walls, doorways and welcome lead us?What more can we be doing each day in giving our time, space, skills, privilege, securities, passions & relationships?
‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.” This passage in Acts is an interruption, a reminder that Christ is our conscience, our example and the presence of God in what we do as the Church. Our creator, the being beyond space and time, becomes present in our lives and in our worship through our use of our space and time.When we offer our time and when we use our space for the Glory of God. We build the Kingdom of love in our world. We become the hands and feet of Christ. This is where we come to in our consideration of Time and Place as Stewardship. How can I offer my time to best serve God through the Church? How can I help my Church to use its space to best reflect God's purpose in our world? These are the questions that we together consider our use of the time that we have. The space that we have. They say who we are. So let us ask these questions together.
You are invited to be a part of this conversation in the Stewardship 365 program each week. After the service today you are welcome to join me during our coffee hour to share your thoughts and participate in any way that you wish to as we look at how we can grow in our understanding together at the Cathedral in how we give to the Church. If you are following the service live, our Deacon of the livestream will post in the chat how you can access this.
Let’s close in prayer. Holy and loving God, you are beyond our understanding of Time and Place, yet you reach us in ours. Be with us in our time that we give, to the Church and to each other. Be with us in our place where we worship, where we work and where we rest. O’ Creator, create in us, a love that surpasses all our faults and weaknesses. Guide our hands, our feet, our voices and our eyes, to always seek you in what we do. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen