This Week at St. Stephen’s–March 29, 2015

This week we enter the myth of Holy Week, the
great story about death and resurrection that
image03unites us to all mythic traditions, yet also
separates us out.

It may sound strange, calling the central
Christian events a “myth”. Are we not talking
about historical events? There is no good reason
to doubt that we are. That Jesus was an actual
person, that he died on a cross at the hands of
the Roman authorities, that his followers
experienced him as living in their midst after his
death—these facts are all rooted in human
memory and experience.

But what we have done with these historic facts is to create a mythic narrative that rivals any
throughout human history. Joseph Campbell, in his ground-breaking book, The Hero With a
Thousand Faces, identified the hero myth as among the most common of the world’s myths: the
hero leaves the tribe in order to carry out some salvific mission on the tribe’s behalf, and thereby
leaves the mortal realm for the divine.

Jesus the man, through his crucifixion and resurrection, became the mythic figure the Church began
calling the Christ, associated so closely with God to be called Son of God. Stories soon began
circulating about his miraculous birth. His earthly presence was described as “incarnation”. His place
in glory called his followers on to their own eternal destiny.

Yes, this may be the stuff of history. But it is also myth in the making: a myth that has changed our

This Week at St. Stephen’s–March 22, 2015

A GREAT GIFT

We could never say enough about the great gift our children are to us! It used to be said that children are the church of tomorrow. But the truth is, they’re the church of today. Their active presence in our midst enriches us all.

Throughout this Lenten season we have been exploring ways to celebrate a more positive message than sin, repentance and self-denial. These themes have their place in Christian spirituality, but they are adult themes and therefore a hard sell to children. We wondered if we might rediscover the blessings of Lent by approaching it through their eyes.

So each week we have explored with our children, “Where is God?” We looked inward and celebrated the many ways our bodies are “wondrously made”. We considered how seeds, when they are buried, produce magnificent results. Then the children led our worship with a reminder that each of us has been given gifts to share with the world.

Last week and this, they have helped us look outward into our world to find God in the cosmic game of Hide and Seek, where the “Good News’ often lies hidden within the bad news.

This year our children have drawn us back to the basics of our faith: that we are all wonderful creations of God, loved and filled with purpose. And they have proved that they are indeed a vital part of our church today! Our thanks to them all, and to Kathleen Howes, their guide on the Excellent Adventure.

This Week at St Stephen’s -March 15th 2015

Looking for a Sign

Back in the day, churches displayed the times of their Sunday services on their outdoor sign … and called it advertising. In an age when most people went to church, and when most of them already had their denominational affiliation, there was nothing else to say.

UntitledNow, in an age when almost no one goes to church, and when most couldn’t tell you the difference between an Anglican and a Baptist—nor even the difference between a church and a synagogue, telling the world who we are has become more complicated. Most of those who find us today have done so through our web site, or our Facebook page, or through word of mouth. To these folks the outdoor sign serves only to confirm that this is indeed the place. It also lets our neighbours know we are still alive and kicking inside our fortress walls. We are looking for some enterprising church members to help us let the world know who we are.

We have someone—Chad Dudley—who works on our web site for us, and who posts updates on our Facebook page. What we lack at the moment is a vision and a strategy to keep our communications current and to seek new ways of being “out there”.

Is this you? Do you have a passion for St. Stephen’s? Do you have your eye on the social media? Would you like to help create our new “sign” for the world to see? If so, let us know.

This Week at St. Stephen’s–March 08, 2015

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

How would you feel if you could look your assailant in the eye? What would you say? Would it be an opportunity for vengeance? Or would it be a time for compassion, perhaps even forgiveness? We’re about to find out.

Our church was broken into five times over the Christmas holidays—all, apparently, by the same intruder. Thankfully there was no vandalism. But there was damage, and there was theft. Six hundred dollars in cash was stolen, along with a computer and some cheques received as Sunday offerings. Our repair bills ran into the thousands. The staff was left feeling nervous and insecure. So we are now beefing up the security of our buildings, a project that will cost us over $15,000.Mar 08

The intruder was caught and arrested. He was well known to the police, his face showing up on the after-hour surveillance videos of several local businesses, and his rap sheet including (we are told) upward of fifty previous convictions. He will have his day in court and then, presumably, he will be back in the hood.

Some of us are exploring what it would be like to make it personal, to meet our thief, to ask him why he did it, and to offer him a restorative relationship. Once we better understand the process, we are considering making a victim impact statement that would include the possibility of our being part of his rehabilitation. What do you think about that? How does it feel? What would you say?