Pastoral Letters

Easter 2022

Dear Incarnation Family,

 

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

Can there be a more powerful exclamation in all humanity?

 

This is the Easter message which shocked and filled the downcast disciple’s hearts with awe and exuberance as they encountered their risen Lord. 

 

Yes the tomb is empty. Jesus has shattered the chains of evil and death for us.

 

We began Lent on Ash Wednesday knowing this was a time for self-examination and reflection as we entered the wilderness of our own lives – our frustrations, disappointments, fears, illnesses, losses, and into the temptations that can often lead us away from God.

 

Easter now calls us to focus on God's eternal changeless love for us. The God who ever breathes His Easter triumph into our constant Good Friday tragedies meets us on the way to him and gives us the courage to encounter adversity head on and proclaim His victory even out of our trials.

 

We are being challenged to examine the mystery of faith, Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. How is this reality worked out in your life? How do you share this love and the capacity for perseverance in struggles, and uncertainty, and joy and hope in good times, with others? If you don’t do that now, how might you go about doing it?  

 

We now begin the season of Easter where we look forward with hope in God – eternal love and presence – that enables us to remember that we have entered into his life and thereby have received our new lives in him.

 

And so, even though we continue to endure the trials and changes wrought by COVID, a world enmeshed in polarized social tensions, and violent invasions, and of course our own personal tribulations, we know that God does not abandon us. He is right here abiding with us, challenging us to seek him so that we might share his life of love and grace with others.

 

Let us join together in praise and worship for what God has done for each one of us. For we are an Easter Resurrection people, and we are called, even commanded to live out and so to share this good news with our neighbours!

 

Alleluia Chris is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

May God bless and sustain you this Eastertide.

Book of Common Prayer Daily Readings for Lent 2022

Click on the icon to download a PDF file of reflections on the Book of Common Prayer daily readings for the season of Lent. Each reflection comes from a clergy or lay person in the Anglican Church of Canada

Advent and Christmas 2021

Dear Incarnation Family,
 
At this time last year we faced a second and long-lasting lockdown. We were unable to meet together for our Advent and Christmas seasons. Thanks be to God this year (at least so far!) we are able to gather together for worship. Slowly but surely things have been opening up in the Province and the City, folks have been returning to classes and offices to stores, institutions and facilities, at least to some degree.
 
But we have been forced – every single person and every single organization – to take a hard look at who we are as a culture, about how we run our organizations, about how we treat others, particularly in our work and living places. Why did COVID spread so rapidly through long-term care homes and factories with low-wage workers? What were the working and living conditions like which facilitated this spread? Why has discrimination, racism, bias, and horrific abuse remained so hidden from most of us, only exposed so recently when we had to stop, take stock of our lives, and reflect on what life really means?
 
Many things for us to think about. At the core of it all, however, are, I think, the first and second commandments: to love God and to love neighbour. As Christians entering into another Advent season, we are called “lift our heads” and “pay attention,” to God who comes to us with judgment, but also with mercy. All of our readings in Advent focus on God’s coming, and our need to prepare our hearts, our minds, and our organizations. There is the call to confess and then repent and then change the things in our lives that don’t manifest the love of God. What that means for you, is for you to examine.
 
This warning about judgment, however, rests on God’s promise to send his Son to us to heal us. That promise we anticipate and rejoice in at Christmas when we celebrate Jesus’s birth is why we can act in faith, out of hope. Faith and hope in God who loves us and who is working to heal and draw us to him, allows us to enter into confession and repentance. “Cast off the old way of doing stuff that too often forms our habits we’ve developed over time stemming from fear, anxiety, frustration, hurt and cynicism,” I imagine Jesus saying to us. Let go of those things so we can see our circumstances in light of God’s love for us, his desire to transform not just us, but every person whom we encounter. Allow that love to change us so that when we make decisions about how to live, work, give, respond and act with and toward others, we will hear the voice of God and respond to him and to our neighbours out of that love. AMEN.
Leigh+
 
p.s. Under government legislation tax receipts for 2021 can only be given for donations received by the church before December 31st, 2021.
 
p.p.s. We have enclosed a Green Memorial Flowers envelope to assist anyone wishing to make a donation of remembrance for loved ones. To ensure that they are acknowledged in our Christmas eve service, we ask that your donation be sent to our church by Sunday December 12th, 2021'.

Summer 2021

Dear Incarnation Family,

 

What a year it has been. So many of the daily face-to-face encounters we took for granted weren’t able to happen in our personal and in our parish lives. Our ways of connecting with one another have changed. We have had to make due with phone calls and/or online connections, with in-person gatherings on rare occasions. Sadly, we have also lost twenty-three members of our parish whom we have not been able to mourn together; friends, family, key members of our community and our ministries. We will work together to find a way to do this when we can gather together again. 

 

Yet there have also been some gifts out of this time of change. I have been able to talk to most of you either on the phone or through email or through zoom, or in some cases, in person. Were it not for the pandemic, some of the worship and ministries we have started, and some in development, would likely not have occurred. Meeting online has allowed for consistent weekly, and even daily meetings that wouldn’t be possible in person because of other constraints on time and accessibility. These ministries will come to serve a new form of fellowship, outreach, teaching and worship that will help provide new ways to reach people when we return to full in-person worship and seek to rebuild our church community.

 

I must say that as I have spoken to people and gotten to know folks a little more on the phone or electronically, that I feel gifted to have a parish of Jesus Christ’s disciples who love one another so deeply. I know that you folks are engaging in regular phone calls, discussions and check ins with one another, and you’re keeping me informed so that I can make sure I learn who you are as individuals and as a community and so too what your needs are spiritually. This is the work of Christ’s disciples! 

 

While COVID has certainly been and likely will continue to be a long and challenging trial, it has also pressed us to reconsider who we are, what we value, and how we want to live out our lives before God. Perhaps it has pressed you to ask deep questions: do I really have a deep and abiding relationship with God? Where is God in all of this? What is God doing with me here and now? In the midst of uncertainty and self-examination we need to remind ourselves foremost that: “Nothing can separate us from the love of God” who came into the world for us. We are his. He has bound us to him in his Son Jesus Christ and by his Spirit, he constantly pulls us back to him.

 

As we take time to examine our lives before God, let us also remember that sustaining, building and growing the work and ministry of Christ at Church of the Incarnation does require financial investment. As such, we ask that you prayerfully consider regular tithing through cheque or through electronic giving which can be set up by contacting the church office. Envelopes can be dropped off or mailed to the church as the mailbox is being checked daily.

 

Finally, please know that we are praying for you and we continue to invite you to watch the Sunday Morning Prayer service on YouTube, to join in Morning Prayer every morning from 9:30-10am, Scripture discussion Tuesdays from 7:30-8:20 and social fellowship Thursdays from 7-8pm. If you would like to get in touch with me please do not hesitate to call me at 647-970-9075 or email me at klsilcox@gmail.com

 

Yours in Christ,

Leigh+

Thanksgiving 2021

Dear Incarnation Family,

 

If we are to celebrate Thanksgiving in the Church, it must be a celebration, first, of what has been given to us. It is hard to imagine – when we live in a world of human transactions – that everything that is, everything that we are, everything that we have, is not ours. In fact, we’re not even renting. Everything that is, belongs to God. Our very lives, our capacities and limitations, these all belong to God. Our lives really are not our own. We were made for two reasons: to love God and to love neighbour.

 

We live, as the Scriptures tell us, in a fallen world. We live in a city, in a country, on a continent and in a world that is still enmeshed in sin. St. Augustine said that sin is not evil in itself, for evil doesn’t exist as some sort of force. Rather sin is what happens when we go to choose the good, but for some reason, we instead choose to do something that isn’t in accordance with the good that God has made us for. Augustine called this a “deprivation” of the good: an act that was intended to somehow lead us to what we perceive as right, or just for a given situation.

 

Well of course one really common ‘deprivation’ of the good God intends for us stems from not recognizing in the first place, that everything we are is God’s own. So one of the things that happens for everyone – rich and poor – is that we tend to put our focus on what we need to do to survive in the world we see around us. Survival, life, is of course a pretty basic good. Were it not, we would not be here in the first place. So it makes sense that we would prioritize survival.

 

But there’s a challenge here: what would happen were Jesus to have said, I am going to prioritize my survival, so I’m not setting my face to Jerusalem, I am not going to proclaim my Father’s kingdom, I am not going to overthrow tables in the temple, I am not going to tell the disciples parables, I am not going to warn people of the coming judgment. I’m not going up on that Cross. Well the short, blunt answer is that you and I would not be here. So in fact then, survival is not the most basic priority for a human life. If Jesus Christ is the one true fulfillment of a human life, then it is the love of God and neighbor that is the most basic priority for human life. Think of the Christians through the ages, even in the last few years, who have given up their lives when threatened, because they refused to give up their faith: martyrs, we call them; ones who point in their deaths, to the love of God and neighbor; to true life.

 

If God came to us in the Son, Jesus Christ, took our sins to the Cross on which he died, and raised us to new life, a life we would not otherwise have, then what we are, all that we are, is his. Our gospel reading for this Thanksgiving (Matthew 6:25-13) says “do not worry about what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear, is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Your heavenly Father knows you need these things to survive. He will give you the means to survive if you are willing to seek them as God has provided.

 

Now here’s the problem: this is precisely the point at which we want to say, ‘wait a minute, this is my life here, I want this, I want that, I deserve this or that, this or that shouldn’t happen to me, I really can’t stand doing that, I know what’s best and if they don’t do what I want, I’m going to stop participating or giving of my time, gifts, money.’

 

It has been my experience that God wastes nothing. I have experienced times in my life where I’ve thought: God, why have you left me? This circumstance is a never ending nightmare and I can’t bear it anymore. The lament spoken by Christ comes to mind: O Lord why have you forsaken me? So too the story of Job. Stripped of everything, even their lives though, God in Christ raised himself and brought Job, and you and I with him. Having gone through some really horrific stuff of my own – as I’m sure you all have – when I read the Scriptures, I see myself in all the different characters of figures and then suddenly, I’ll come to see how God has used an experience, or knitted together several different experiences to show me where he is at in my life; that he never did abandon me, that sometimes he stood back so that I would learn through his judgment or discipline, and seek him, as a crying child does with a parent. We are God’s children. God knows, just as a parent knows, that we need him, that we cannot survive without him. And so he came to us to give us life; he comes to us when we forget this and try to forge our own way and end up making really poor choices in life. He holds us, bears us up, draws us closer to his embrace. So if we are going to celebrate Thanskgiving, let us give thanks for all that we have received at the hand of God.

Lent - May 4, 2021

Dear Incarnation Family,

I have been able to talk to most of you either on the phone or through zoom these last few months and as I said in my November newsletter, I know that many of you are caring for one another. As we continue through this season of Lent, our liturgies in our Eucharistic and Morning Prayer services are filled with Scriptures that ask us to examine our lives as we hold them up to God’s own self revelation. Who are we? What do our thoughts, our behaviours, our words, our actions, our possessions, our ways of engaging others, say about who we are and about our faithfulness to God?

This ‘COVID-time’ is not unprecedented for God’s people, although it is likely unique for most of us. But it has been precisely in such times throughout history that people have ended up taking stock of their lives and turned back to God finding they are utterly reliant on his mercy. In such times as we are in, people have had to grapple with the way we have been living, and the things by which and to which we have been tempted. The same temptations that Jesus met in the wilderness are also our temptations, but the power of God’s love can help us resist these temptations and defeat the figurative beasts that dwell in and among us. At our baptism, we were made Christ’s own forever.

Lent is a time for us to ask: how might God be at work both in us and for us during our figurative wilderness times and what must I do to discover what he’s up to and reorient my life accordingly? These kinds of questions are meant to remind us of God’s presence during those wilderness times that leave us feeling stretched beyond our abilities: in the midst of the various trials we face in life. Because, you know what? the same Spirit of God that descended upon Jesus at his Baptism & drove Jesus out into the wilderness also accompanied him during that time and brought him back again.

As we take time to examine our lives before God, let us also remember that the work and ministry of Christ does require financial investment for now and the future. Your leadership team, along with many who serve in various parish ministries, are working hard to ensure that you as Christ’s disciples have a place and community within which to worship. Although delayed because of the ‘stay at home order’ by the Province, we are hoping to deliver Incarnation envelopes to you within the month of February. We’d ask that in the meantime, you consider including your donation for the months of January and February in regular envelopes which can be mailed to or dropped off in person to the church. Please do not place cash into the envelopes, cheques only. These will be retrieved from the church mailbox on a daily basis and either deposited immediately or placed into a locked safe until they can be deposited.

Finally, please know that we are praying for you, particularly during our Sunday Morning Prayer services found on YouTube, and during our Morning Prayer Services held each Monday-Thursday at 9:30am on zoom (if you are not already and can do so, don’t hesitate to join us for Morning Prayer through computer or your phone!).

Yours in Christ,

 

The Reverend Dr. Leigh Silcox Earle Armstrong, Deb Simpson, John Kane, and Susanne Matchett, and Bill Otton

 

P.S. Please remember to keep the parish and your fellow parishioners in your prayers contacting us if necessary. And please consider mailing in or dropping off your January/February offerings to the church mailbox in a regular non-church envelope (or a church envelope when these come to you), continuing with your PAR donation, or making an e-transfer donation to the church.

 

“‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’” says the LORD Almighty, “‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’” - Malachi 3:10

 

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.” - Acts 2:42-45

Easter - May 25, 2021

Dear Incarnation Family,

We began Lent on Ash Wednesday knowing that we were entering a time of self-examination; where, in a figurative sense, we were given the opportunity to go into the wilderness of our own lives - our frustrations, disappointments, fears, illnesses, losses, and into the joys, hopes, reliefs, expectations - and into the temptations all of these things can bring that can often lead us away from God.

Examining these things, uncovering why we are sometimes (or oftentimes!) tempted away from him, and then saying to God, “I struggle with this or that,” is an act of humility that puts us into a position where we are open to receiving God’s grace.

Lent is truly a time of reflection, prayerful meditation, and repentance. But we do all of these things with an eye toward Easter: the End; the Cross and the Resurrection, where Jesus Christ has fulfilled all things. Indeed, in Jesus’s resurrection we are brought out of winter death into the spring blossoming of new life.

And so we look forward with a hope in God - eternal love and presence - that enables the humility of letting go of our temptations because we remember that we have entered into his life and thereby have received our new lives in him.

And so even though we must continue to endure the trials and ultimate changes wrought by COVID on our lives, we know that God does not abandon us. He is right there abiding with us, challenging us to seek him so that we might share his life of love and grace with others.

For we are an Easter people, and this we are called, even commanded, to live out and so to share! May your Easter Season be blessed with God’s grace and may He sustain you and abide with you for ever!

He is Risen indeed. Alleluia! Alleluia

The Reverend Leigh Silcox