Moving holding still (photo by J Hawley Malina 18 May 2023)

You can miss something Jesus says in the Gospel if you read it too quickly or skim over it. But because the instruction is repeated almost verbatim in the other reading assigned for the 7th Sunday of Easter I bring it to your attention.

How would you react to being told to wait? It’s hard enough to wait your turn in a crowded supermarket line, or getting snarled in stop-and-go traffic, or waiting for needed surgery or treatment. What would you do when someone asks you to wait? Wait for a sign before going through with a course of action your heart has settled on, or doing something you really want to do?

Jesus tells his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they receive the promised Holy Spirit. They are to wait there before going out in God’s mission to the ends of the earth, to all nations.[1] Why are they waiting, to stay in place, before doing the Lord’s good work? What value is there in doing that?

On the other hand, if we use Jesus’ words to justify inaction, I think we are missing the point. Jesus isn’t saying: Don’t do anything until everything else is figured out and we have clear-cut answers. Jesus isn’t saying: Don’t do anything until all our problems are solved, until conditions are right or everything is perfect or until there is no doubt as to what to do.

To have peace in one’s heart and confidence to move forward in life means fear and doubt will still be part of our journey. To have peace and conviction about a course of action means there will always be reasons not to do something.

How does this Gospel help us today?

The disciples had experienced a significant transition in their lives. It had only been three years on the road with Jesus. They had experienced the wonder and the joy as well as the challenges, the disruptions, the dangers, and the threats of being with the Lord in person. All of this, after being—in some cases, suddenly—called away from their previous lives as fishers and tax collectors. That’s a lot of change in a short time.

And now, after the intense and tumultuous last days in Jerusalem witnessing Jesus’ arrest, torture and violent death on a cross, after witnessing his resurrection and encountering Jesus in the upper room, on the road to Emmaus and by the lakeshore, did they even have time to process all of this, to grieve?

Perhaps that’s one piece of wisdom in Jesus’ instruction: Wait in Jerusalem. Give yourself some time. Slow things down, take a breath, re-group. Pressing the reset button on their lives, the disciples spent valuable time in prayer, blessing God in the temple.

We may do well in our lives to pay attention to times of transition. Not ignore nor devalue those moments in-between. From a broader perspective, we are emerging from three years of pandemic disruptions. We cannot deny nor minimize its impact—positive and negative—on our lives. We need to give space for grief, for re-grouping, resetting.

It is time to again affirm what wisdom traditions through the ages have often claimed: What we most deeply seek and desire — healing, fulfillment, an answer to a question — must ultimately reveal itself to us. French philosopher Simone Weil once noted: “We do not obtain the most precious gifts by going in search of them but by waiting for them.”[2]

I want to conclude by giving us a practical exercise. Here is a spiritual discipline we can practice on a regular basis, even every week at worship:

Statio, from the contemplative Christian tradition, is the practice of stopping one thing before beginning another. Another way of expressing Statio is “holy pausing”. It is the acknowledgement that in the space of transition and threshold is a sacred dimension, a holy pause full of possibility. This place between is a place of stillness, where we let go of what came before and prepare ourselves to enter fully into what comes next.”[3]

When we pause between activities, we open ourselves to the possibility of discovering a new kind of presence of in-between times. Statio calls us to a sense of reverence for the “fertile spaces between our goals where we can pause and center ourselves and listen.”[4] We can open up a space within for God to work.

Because when we rush from one thing to another, we skim over the surface of life. When we rush from one thing to another, we lose the sacred attentiveness that brings forth revelations in the most ordinary of moments. We can become fully conscious of what we are to do rather than mindlessly completing another task. We can pay attention to what is actually happening rather than compulsively finding something else to talk about in order to erase the discomfort of a quiet moment between words.

In little yet significant ways, we can practice Statio in the liturgy. Our weekly worship is designed to honour times of transition. And we have to be intentional about our movement through the various stages of the worship service.

The prelude and postlude, for example, are transitional elements. The instrumental music first brings us into and then takes us out of the time for prayer. Here we can practice being still and silent within ourselves. We can collect our thoughts and affirm our relationship with ourselves and with God. We can just listen.

During the prelude and postlude, as we enter and leave this space of worship and prayer, we can give ourselves and each other the honour and respect of practising transitional time.

We do this, so that when the Spirit calls, and our hearts are nudged in faith, we will go. The seed of faith has been planted. And the seed of new life will now grow.

[1] Acts 1:4; Luke 24:49

[2] cited in Richard Rohr, “Waiting for Things to Unfold” Expanding our Vision (Daily Meditations,, 1 June 2022)

[3] “Holy Pausing” in Christine Valters Painter, The Soul’s Slow Ripening (Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2018), p.8-9.

[4] Ibid.

Practise ‘Statio’ – a sermon for Easter 7 by Rev. Martin Malina

On the path to finding our life

On the way, toward the truth, to find life (photo by M Malina on the Braeside-McNab trail, May 2023)

Yet again, what we read in the bible is not easy to grasp. And this time, from the lips of Jesus himself. Jesus says to his disciples, “I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”[1] Is this poetry? Is it mere abstraction?

Now, I know in this congregation there are engineers and mathematicians. The logical empiricists among us might argue that metaphysics doesn’t mean anything worthwhile. Who could blame them? “I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”?

What we can understand, however, is that central to the Gospel of John is the identity of Jesus. Who is Jesus? Now that he is alive and no longer dead? And the Gospel of John suggests that who Jesus is cannot be untangled from who God is. “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen God”, Jesus basically says in the verses leading up to today’s Gospel reading. But here Jesus goes further. Who Jesus is cannot be unravelled from who we are. In effect, Jesus answers the question of our identity. Basically, he says, “Who we are in God is who we are.”[2]

By now our empirical minds are overheating! For, have we seen this truth with our own eyes? Can we verify it with evidence? What does it mean that our true self is “in God”? Because, all in all, humans do not give good and consistently faithful witness to God. We have not lived out of our core identity in God. And because there appears precious little proof of the holiness of humanity, how can this be true: “We are in God”?

When I had my recent dental cleaning appointment, the x-rays revealed that a filling on a back tooth was cracked. The filling itself was first put in when I was a child, decades ago. After looking carefully at the x-ray and then at the tooth itself, the dentist wanted to schedule another appointment as soon as possible to replace the old filling.

I had to believe her. But I had to confess I wasn’t so sure. You know, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. From my perspective, I had no pain or discomfort at all, going to the dentist. I was leaving her, apparently, with a problem now that needed more fixing. So, I was a little bit cynical.

In fact, I recalled the last time one of my old fillings was replaced, it required a couple of follow-up visits to adjust the bite. In other words, replacing a filling likely meant several days of discomfort eating solid foods before the teeth were realigned.

Now, believing the dentist wasn’t irrational. I could have examined the x-ray myself and asked the dentist to explain what she saw. I could have educated myself and employed technical knowhow to determine for myself the condition of the old filling and tooth. So, it’s not about science versus belief. It’s not about something that can’t be known.

I had to trust her, that not only what she said to me, but years of first-hand experience and full-time work of being a dentist gave the proposition credibility. Just because couldn’t ‘see’ the truth of the matter about my tooth with my own eyes didn’t mean it wasn’t true. 

Paul, in the Acts of the Apostles, visits Athens in Greece where he recognizes all manner of shrines and temples dedicated to all manner of gods. But one shrine catches his attention. It’s an altar dedicated “to an unknown god”.[3] And that’s the one that he uses as a springboard to describe the one God who created heaven and earth.

This inscription to the ‘unknown’ God is appropriate because, as Paul says, this God is not bound by human-built, material constructs. God is not bound in any one place. So, where is God? God resides in every human heart turned to faith. For, “in him we live, and move and have our being.” God inhabits the whole earth, all that God has made.

What does bind us together—the Father, the Son, and us all—is the Spirit of God’s love. Love. Twice in the Gospel today, Jesus refers to “my commandments”, in the first and last verses of the text.[4] 

Specifically, when Jesus refers to his commandments, we must recognize Jesus’ own definition of the Law—the Great Commandment: He says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”[5]

And on the night before he died, Maundy Thursday, Jesus reiterates this “new” command by instructing his disciples to “love one another just as I have loved you.”[6]

Jesus promises his disciples that though he will leave them in body, he will not leave them “orphaned.” It’s interesting Jesus uses the word, “orphan” which is here another word frequently mentioned in the scriptures. Throughout the scriptures when orphans are mentioned it is often in the context of the mission of justice to care for the widows and orphans.[7]

As Jesus promises his disciples an Advocate to help and be with them, the mission of God is planted in us to be “little Christs”[8], advocates, to those who need our presence and help.

Though we cannot see the full truth of God’s presence in all—including in us—though we cannot always get what we see, or feel the love of God, doesn’t mean God is separate from us, doesn’t mean God has abandoned us. God is with us. God loves us. 

And so, when we love ourselves, when we love the earth and when we love others, we will know God is with us. Cesar Chavez once said, “It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life.”[9]

The Easter message is wrapped up in that line: Only by giving our lives in love, as Jesus did, do we find life. 

[1] John 14:15-21

[2] Richard Rohr, “Upending the Social Order” Freedom from Shame (Daily Meditations,, 8 May 2023)

[3] Acts 17:22-31

[4] John 14:15,21

[5] Matthew 22:37-39

[6] John 13:33-34

[7] See Deuteronomy 14:29; Proverbs 23:10; James 1:27

[8] A term used by Martin Luther and C.S. Lewis.

[9] Cited in Robert Ellsberg, ed., All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (Crossroad, 1997), p.180. Cesar Chavez was a 20th century American labor leader and civil rights activist.

From Monday to Saturday

In the chapel at Queen of Apostles, Mississauga Ontario (photo by Martin Malina 2 May 2023)

We are: “God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called us….”[1]

This address from Peter oozes confidence. Here is a description of a people boldly going where no one has gone before! – To believe that what you do, even the smallest action, matters. In this confidence, then, there is meaning, hope and joy.

Or maybe you are like many whose confidence is shaken. Maybe you’re not so sure. Well, you’re not alone. I’ve come to believe that so much in the world today shakes our confidence. Maybe even snuffs it out.

I like the way Cameron Trimble puts it. She writes that in recent years, “we have experienced economic meltdown, climate countdown, racial throwdown, political breakdown, technology showdown, and religious letdown.”[2]

No wonder the mere suggestion that people of faith have something positive to offer our world today falls on deaf ears. When we are tempted to think, “It doesn’t matter, nothing we do matters,” then we know we’re in trouble. The church has a crisis of confidence to deal with.

What pulls the rug from under our own feet? Would we face what it is that keeps us from living out our faith in confidence?  

Is there a way to rebuild that confidence?

“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.”[3] It is a mental picture that Jesus draws for us in the Gospel for today. It’s not a physical house, one that we can walk into and look around right now. The space is not material. It is a vision Jesus paints before us.

And more than that, it is a vision to which each of us belongs. Jesus says, “I go to prepare a place for you … I will come again to take you to myself.”[4] A vision to which we belong, lies before us.

And here is another reason why we might fail in believing what we do matters. Because this vision lies ahead of us, we may think that what we’re doing now doesn’t really count, that our work is inconsequential. We can’t or won’t hold the vision, the big picture, before us. Therefore, we don’t appreciate the value of the smallest work, our smallest action.

But what we do now is part of God’s vision. As people of faith, who believe in God, we trust that the future will be good. We hope that things will eventually work out. And we want the future to reflect that vision of God.

Our confidence grows when we regard our present work as building toward that vision. “The future will be different if we make the present different.”[5]

And that is why every time we come to church to worship, what we are doing by being here and engaging the experience of worship is declaring that hope: that whatever happens now, in all that we do from Monday to Saturday, is linked to the vision of God. So, everything we do, 24-7, flows from a heart of faith.

As part of the agenda of the Eastern Synod Deans’ meeting, one evening this past week the group of us visited a Lutheran Church in Markham, near Toronto. The congregation treated us to a fabulous meal. We listened to the stories of several of the newcomers who are now members there, from Hong Kong and Ukraine. They spoke of displacement from their home country, their struggles in war zones, their immigration to Canada and how they have settled in the past year. 

One constant theme from all the testimonies we heard—and we heard many Chinese and Ukrainians—was the central place that the church had in this turbulent period of transition in their lives. The congregation was intentional to welcome them, support them, and accompany them in meeting their needs and giving them joy and hope for the future.

Everyone was engaged now in this larger vision. Members were living out their faith in every way imaginable: cutting grass, cleaning toilets, preparing meals, delivering furniture, etc. They were living out that vision—that bigger picture of the future and present of God’s kingdom.

One member of the congregation—his name is Max—came to Canada from Bermuda decades ago. He started up a Toronto moving company. Recently he delivered furniture driving in his white van to the homes of Ukrainian and Chinese newcomers to Canada. 

Max told us the story of bringing a single mattress to a house address on one of his workday delivery runs across the city. When he knocked on the door, first nobody answered. So, he waited a few moments before trying again. Then, he saw it: A face slowly rising above the windowpane of the door. And when the newcomer to Canada saw the mattress leaning against the door, the smile and joy that sprouted on their face warmed Max’s heart. He said in that moment he knew he wasn’t just delivering a mattress. He was doing God’s work.

During our visit to the Markham church last week, there was one word that was never once mentioned in all the testimonies we heard from newcomers, the pastor, the council members, board members, church members. The one word all of them never said was “volunteer”. Nobody there was ‘volunteering’. Instead, they were living out their faith as disciples of Jesus. Discipleship.

I think we need to practice not using the word “volunteer” in the church. We don’t need volunteers. That language compartmentalizes our life into separate boxes: A Sunday box; a work box; a play box, a leisure box, a hobby box, etc. The church doesn’t need volunteers. The church needs disciples. We need to see all our work that everyone does—in the church, in our lives—as our discipleship, an extension and expression of our faith which changes over time but still is part of it.

In the Gospel text today, Jesus talks first about knowing God and believing in God. But it’s not just Thomas that doubts. Philip, too, has trouble believing just the spoken words. “[Don’t tell us about] Show us the Father”, Philip demands.

And Jesus answers, if they don’t believe by the words he says, “then believe me because of the works themselves.”[6] Belief sometimes needs action to start the whole ball rolling. Often belief is not the best starting point to God. It’s the doing. The action, first, will lead to a stronger faith and relationship with God. The action will grow the community of faith and strengthen relationships of faith.

As if to underscore this truth, Jesus takes it to the next level. He says something audacious and, frankly, very hard to believe—that the person of faith will do “even greater works than these”—than what Jesus ever did![7]

“Greater works”, from the context of the early church, refers to the ever-widening circle of the church’s mission to the Gentiles[8]—to those who fall outside the traditional religious circle of the day. We must translate that missional dynamic into our world today. 

I think I witnessed a present-day example of the vision of God in Markham earlier this week. We’re not going to do exactly the same thing they are doing. The point is the attitude and heart and disposition they bring to church life. And I pray we as Christians and people of faith can catch the Spirit of the living God, to live into the future which is ever hopeful and expansive.

It may start by simply asking the question: “What do we care about—beyond ourselves?” As a congregation, a community of faith, what do we care about—beyond ourselves? And can we do that, together?

In closing, I want to return to the original vision in this Gospel text—the roominess in the house of God. A Lutheran theologian, Robert Jenson, suggested that God’s roominess described here relates not so much to the space, but to the time, God has for us.[9] God is roomy. God has all the time in the world for us.

All of it belongs, even everything we do from Monday to Saturday. And God is ever-patient with us. God is always opening for us ways to live out the gift of faith in our lives. 

[1] 1 Peter 2:9

[2] Cameron Trimble cited in “Fly Loose: Transitions”, Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations (, 5 May 2023)

[3] John 14:2

[4] John 14:2-3

[5] Peter Maurin, cited in Daily Prayer for All Seasons (New York: Church Publishing, 2014), p.114

[6] John 14:8-11

[7] John 14:12

[8] Donald Senior, “John 14:1-14” in David L. Bartlett & Barbara Brown Taylor, eds., Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary Year A, Volume 2 (Kentucky: WJK Press, 2010), p.471.

[9] Cited in Cynthia A. Jarvis, ibid., p.469.

“From Monday to Saturday” – a sermon by Rev. Martin Malina for Easter 5A

Open door policy

Jesus identifies himself with a gate. The word, ‘gate’, appears several times in this Gospel text today.[1] Unlike “bread”[2], “light”[3], “vine”[4]—all natural and organic analogies created by God— “gate” is the only “I am” saying by Jesus in the New Testament that is built by human hands. 

That’s significant. Because unlike bread, light or a plant a gate is not meant to be the central focus of what is going on around it. A gate is merely a way through on a journey or intention that begins before approaching it and leads to somewhere else after leaving it. It is functional, serving a larger purpose. 

It is meant to be experienced. You experience passing through a gate, and what it signifies: a means to an end, a transition from one place to another. Today we receive an image to help us move into places of resurrection.

During the Easter season we consider being the presence of the living Christ to the world today. We hear the Easter message of new life in the conclusion of this Gospel text today; Jesus came so that “we may have life and have life abundantly.”[5]

A biblical professor of mine from my seminary days talked about it this way: The bouncing ball over time. The ball starts its journey by being dropped to the earth. 

God, in a sense, takes this direction or movement — first down:

“Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.”[6]

That’s downward movement. The first trajectory of the divine movement comes down to earth. And it is on the ground that the first disciples witness and experience the human Jesus for the first time in history, in first century Palestine. 

As time moves forward, the ball then goes up, up in the air, off the ground and into the realm of abstract analogies, mental constructs, images, metaphors. The ball is flying in the air, to the degree that it is now our minds that must re-present Jesus who is no longer in the flesh, on the earth, a human being. 

But do these analogies leave us ‘up in the air’? Does Jesus remain merely an abstract notion? When Jesus says, “I am the gate” he’s also the “true vine”, the “light of the world”, the “good shepherd”[7], the “resurrection and the life”[8], the “way, truth and the life”[9] and, “the bread of life” as well. It’s not the image or metaphor that is the most important; it is the person of Christ it points to.

The gate image, because it is a thing, reminds us that Jesus must become real to us again today, in the flesh, in our experience. The ball will land, must land, on the ground again.

In other words, we are free to ‘see’ Christ in others and in the world today. We have to understand our context, too, for the message of Christ to have life. We don’t live in 1st century Palestine. And, to be fair, we no longer live in an agrarian-based society, as it was in the ancient world when the bible was first written down. 

In the middle of the 19th century, 84 percent of Canadians lived in what we would define as rural areas. But today, almost two centuries later, it is flipped: Some 82 percent of all Canadians live in cities. For the vast majority of Canadians today, agrarian images no longer carry the same weight, as far as meaning goes.

So, what would a contemporary gate look like today? Not a gate in the country, let’s say, but a gate in the city. A city gate?

When we consider gates in our backyards – the chain link fences dividing up suburbia – but also the gates keeping a city safe – checkpoints, guard houses, toll stations, prisons, the locks on the Rideau Canal. One thing about these city gates are that they are not constructed to be easily crossed, whether we are talking about regulating water flow, children playing in the yard, border crossings or prisoners in jails. It’s not a walk in the park.

Also, it takes time going through gates today. In fact, these city gates require significant effort. Procedures. Passcodes. Keys. Questions. And hopefully the right answers. Going through some gates can pose a threat, even present a degree of danger. 

The term ‘gatekeeping’ today is intimidating. It suggests the role of being a bouncer at the door—asking for credentials or proof to those wishing to enter, testing the veracity of the traveller’s claims. I think we live in a world today where gates are built to make it harder to open than to close. To open them takes more effort and time.

Among people of faith, too, I think we are tempted to keep Jesus inside. And so we close the gates of our hearts, and the gates—physical and mental—that keep matters of faith preserved. The result of this strategy, sadly, is to exclude, control and/or force everyone ‘inside’ to conform.

But Easter changed all that. Easter means that Jesus is alive, not dead. Easter means that Jesus has gone into the world, and lives in every corner of it. Easter has opened the gate, so that Christ is released out there.

While modern city gates are normally designed to control or stem traffic flow, the gate of Jesus is easily opened. More often than not, it’s stuck open. It’s harder to close it than it is to open it. Jesus’ gate is more about a free flow of traffic in and out. Whoever enters by me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.[10]

The community, the reign, the shepherding of Christ if you will involve relationships defined by the grace, freedom and love of God—the freedom for welcome, acceptance, and even the freedom to leave. This freedom of movement from outside to inside and inside to outside is the open-door policy of God’s reign. 

When the church remains a place where all people are free to come and to go, we remain true to Christ who is this gate, who is this place of transition. It might not always be easy to go through either way, because of the blocks we create, we place on ourselves. But Jesus doesn’t block the way. When we would rather close the gate, Jesus opens it. The One who is the gate is faithful and beckons us through to the fullness, the abundance of life beyond.

[1] John 10:1-10

[2] John 6:35-48

[3] John 8:12; 9:5

[4] John 15:1-5

[5] John 10:10

[6] Philippians 2:5-8

[7] John 10:11-14

[8] John 11:25

[9] John 14:6

[10] John 10:9

“Open door policy” (sermon by Rev. Martin Malina)

From broken to broken – God’s grace at the holy meal

Yes, indeed this chapter is typical of the Lukan narrative style.[1] Because the story is resolved and reaches its climax around a dinner table, around a meal.

One of the stand-out activities of Jesus’ ministry throughout the Gospel of Luke is eating. I’ve mentioned this before, that there is some kind of reference, or at least implied, to “eating” in every one of the twenty-four chapters of Luke. And Jesus is at the centre of it all. 

Some notable examples—Jesus is born in a feeding trough for animals.[2] Jesus is accused early in his ministry of being a glutton and a drunkard.[3] What is worse, he eats with all the wrong people![4]Then, he shares the Passover meal with his disciples the night before he died.[5]

So, it’s instructive that in the resurrection story about the walk to Emmaus[6] that, in the end, it’s not Jesus’ teaching—significant nonetheless—that opens their eyes. It’s not his physical presence—significant nonetheless—that opens their eyes. It’s Jesus’ breaking and sharing bread with his friends.[7] It’s his blessing of food. In this sharing of bread at an ordinary table, we catch a glimpse of “Jesus’ transformative kingdom.”[8]

It’s when Jesus takes what he is going to eat, breaks off a piece, and shares it with everyone else gathered at table. It’s like he’s taking the conventional expectation—that when someone comes to the table, they’ll keep for themselves the food placed before them. Jesus, again, turns upside down everyone’s expectations. There’s this self-giving, from a heart of love, that offers not what is perfect but what is broken. To everyone.

Which is not how I instinctively operate. If I’m going to share something, especially food, I want to make sure I’m offering my guest and those whom I serve the best pieces, the biggest, the best-looking off the grill. In other words, I’m looking to give the very best of what I can give. 

But not Jesus. Jesus does not exercise his mission based on performance and perfection. Jesus’ action invites us, maybe challenges us, first to receive and accept what is less-than-ideal in and around us.

A man dies and goes to heaven. Of course, St Peter meets him at the pearly gates.

St Peter says, “Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in.”

“Okay,” the man said, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart.”

“That’s wonderful,” says St Peter, “that’s worth three points!”

“Three points?” he says. “Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service.”

“Terrific!” says St Peter, “that’s certainly worth a point.”

“One point? Golly. How about this: I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans.”

“Fantastic, that’s good for two more points,” he says.

“TWO POINTS!!” the man cries. “At this rate the only way I get into heaven is by the grace of God!”

St Peter says, “Come on in!”

God is gracious and merciful, despite our imperfect efforts to catch God’s attention and despite our belief that we have to earn our way into God’s favour.

From broken to broken. From broken—meaning despised and rejected, what Jesus suffered himself on the cross—to broken; meaning, touching what is broken within us. In the holy meal, Jesus touches what is broken in our lives and in need of healing and in need of being made whole again. Bread broken. The Body of Christ given—broken—for you. And everyone else.

The Holy Communion magnifies the truth of grace, a truth that we don’t ‘see’ in each other normally in our compare-and-compete world. Jesus takes the initiative to find us on the road—on our journeys—and approaches us because we are beloved children of God. Not because we have accomplished something grand. The disciples on the road felt as failures; the past three years were all for nothing, it seemed. But despite their, and our, brokenness and even because of it, Jesus approaches us with love.

Within our historic Christian faith, we affirm that all humanity bears the imprint of the Divine[9], that we are made in the image of God. This is the starting point for drawing forward our sense of dignity. This is the intrinsic value that is ascribed, not earned, based on our essence in reflecting a good and loving God.[10]

When we start with the grace of resting in our dignity—despite what is broken within us— then the truth of our identity flows forward to embrace those around us. We re-spect them, the word ‘respect’ means “to see a second time”[11], to take another look. To see the good.

A colleague who teaches a two-year confirmation class concludes the program by announcing a final exam. Each student must take the three-hour exam after which the pastor takes up the answers with each student.

As you can imagine, the students get quite anxious and nervous leading up to the exam. All kinds of reasons are presented why some can’t participate. The pastor gently but firmly persists and insists. With a twinkle in his eye. This moment will define and determine the student’s standing in the church and with God for the rest of eternity!

At first the students are shocked when after the written test is completed and handed in, the pastor in dramatic fashion rips up the paper without even looking at any of the answers written down, and unceremoniously deposits the shredded pieces into the recycling can.

Grace doesn’t demand perfection as a condition for belonging to God’s reign. Grace doesn’t insist on getting it right before you receive the gift of Jesus’ life in yours. Grace doesn’t put conditions on anyone coming with an outstretched hand to the table.

Our lives begin and end in the love and grace of God. Whatever our good efforts, and however we try to get it right, this will make a difference and open up ‘airspace’ for God’s grace to flood in. But we can’t control the outcome. And sometimes we need Jesus to break in when we can’t break out when we are stuck, likely more often than we think. In the end it is the freedom of God’s agency to show mercy and open the eyes of our heart.

You are welcome to partake of this Holy Meal. And next time you connect at the table in person or by watching online, take a good look—and maybe a second look—at who is there beside you also receiving the gift, the grace, also a beloved child of God. Will you ‘see’ them with renewed vision? As beloved children of God?

[1] Luke 24

[2] Luke 2:7

[3] Luke 7:34

[4] Luke 5:29-31 “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

[5] Luke 22:1-23

[6] Luke 24:13-35

[7] Luke 24:30-31

[8] Eric Barreto, “Commentary on Luke 24:13-35” in (23 April 2017).

[9] Genesis 1:27

[10] Christ Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Grand Rapids Michigan: Zondervan, 2017), p.17

[11] Richard Rohr, “Everyday Pilgrims” in Daily Meditations (, 10 March 2023)

From broken to broken’ sermon for Easter 3A (Rev. Martin Malina)

Lightning – Life in Christ

Lightning will strike (photo by Martin Malina, Arnprior, June 2020)

I’ve found myself reading more children’s stories over the past few years. In the simple language and images not only do I gain insight into a perspective from children, but I also find deep wisdom in the writing.

There is a genre of children’s literature known as transition stories. Focused on the in-between moments that cause young people stress, topics range from bedtime to moving, from separation anxiety to grieving, and more. [1] These books help children grow and mature into accepting the reality of life we all face, no matter our age.

How do we make those transitions in life—transitions that are significant milestones? From living with someone for decades and then you lose them. From one job to another that is completely different. Moving to another country on the other side of the globe. From good health to illness. We may find ourselves at a station of life where we’ve gotten off one train, and we are waiting for the next one to arrive.

How do we make those transitions? And how do we make them well?

Today’s gospel reading is a transition story too.[2] From the night of that first Easter morning, to a week later. From fear to faith. From the disciples not knowing what to do, to being given a big job to do. 

And, like the first disciples, we cannot make a significant transition by ourselves. We cannot shepherd ourselves through our own transitions. We rely on others—family, friends, pets, a community of faith. Who is in your relational circle? 

How do our relations help us? For one thing, we rely on our shared stories—common interests, aligned perspectives, similar and dis-similar life experiences. And when we share those stories—when we are heard and when we can listen—we discover meaning. We may even unlearn or face our fears. In the sharing of stories, we discover meaning in life’s transitions. We may, like the disciples and in the awareness of Christ’s living presence with us, greet a renewed purpose for life.

Books and films whose main characters are children or young people impress me when, at the onset we meet a young child, innocent, immature. But by the end of the epic adventure or quest they undertake, facing seemingly impossible odds and dangers, they have become strikingly mature and adult. It causes me to pause and reflect on how much they have changed to come into their own.

Last week I preached about the power unleashed at the death of Jesus. And, at his resurrection, the great power of love overcame the world’s powers of violence, fear, and hatred. This resurrection power was not just for Jesus, but for all people in Christ for all time. Recall that when Jesus died and rose, “the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After [Jesus’] resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.”[3]

The power of the resurrection was also then given to the disciples in the upper room on that first day: “When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”[4] This is incredible. It is a great gift to receive the power of the Holy Spirit and to have the capacity to exercise it.

What strikes me is that the power of resurrection resides in the disciples with purpose to make a positive difference in the world. The responsibility now lies in them to affect the world for good.

Easter is not just about the individual miracle in Jesus’ life. It is a miracle for all of us.

Jesus’ life is a grace and a gift to us now. The purpose of Jesus’ life is not so much to arouse empathy but to create empowerment.[5] In other words, Jesus is not particularly interested in increasing either your guilt or your devotion, but rather, in deepening your personal capacity to grow, to transition, to make the passage into a fuller, wholesome life.

That power resides in us.

We find ourselves in what is sometimes called the shoulder season of Spring—the in between winter and summer. It is a transitional time, weather-wise. In one short week we went from going through the worst ice-storm in Ottawa since 1997 to 20-degree, summer-like temperatures. During that ice-storm I even heard thunder and saw flashes of lightning.

Lightning occurs, of course, primarily because of conditions from above—the charged air-mass and weather system moving over the land and coming from somewhere else. Most lightning strikes are from cloud-to-ground. The power of God occurs from the start because the Spirit moves into our space.

But does lightning always strike only from the sky down? 

While most lightning is initiated by downward leaders, upward discharges are also possible, occurring almost always from towers, tall buildings, or mountain tops.[6]

When I consider the power of the resurrection unleashed by the empty tomb, when I consider the gifting of that power to forgive, to love, given to the disciples, I think of lightning as a good metaphor.

Because the power of God is a two-way street. It cannot be complete without being connected to God’s power. It cannot be complete without our participation in the powerful activity of God in the world.

We are given the Holy Spirit to make a difference. Having life in Christ’s name means we have the power. The Spirit has been given to us in Christ Jesus. We are connected to Christ. Thanks be to God, who by the power of Jesus’ resurrection, empowers us to be Christ’s presence in this world we inhabit today.

[1] Sundays and Seasons, Daily Resources 16 April 2023

[2] John 20:19-31

[3] Matthew 27:52-53

[4] John 20:22-23

[5] Cynthia Bourgeault, “A Transforming Passion” Daily Meditations (, 5 April 2023)

[6] Upward discharged lightning

A sermon for the 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A (Rev. Martin Malina)

Answering Jesus’ prayer

The next time we will see each other face-to-face I’ll likely be wearing one of these. I have different colours and types for different occasions …. (you can see them by viewing the video sermon at on Sunday, May 24, 2020).

I know the mask may present a barrier. It covers half of our face. It’s uncomfortable. It may inhibit us from feeling normal in our interaction. It’s a telling symbol of the times we find ourselves in. That a physical barrier needs to be in place to protect us all.

Paradoxically, the mask underscores how inter-connected we are. In forming this new habit – wearing a mask every time we leave the home – we are becoming aware of how each of us is connected to others. 

The unity we experience is not just visible. It’s not just about those who are evidently symptomatic – who are coughing, riding high fevers, and are very sick. We now know that over 40% of COVID-19 is transmitted by people who don’t have any symptoms at all.[1]

Of course, we didn’t need COVID-19 to introduce us to the idea of our common humanity. Especially as Christians we have always affirmed our inherent connection, our ‘unity in Christ’. Whether we say we participate in the invisible, spiritual unity, or hopefully sometimes even participate in some wonderful visible expressions of unity, we are united nonetheless.

In this last Gospel selection in the Easter season, the lectionary invites us to reflect on some of Jesus’ last words to his followers when he was physically with them on earth. John 17 represents what is known as the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus for his disciples, his benediction, his blessing to them as a human being. This is his message to them – human to human. 

And he prays for our unity. His prayer affirms our connection in the Body of Christ which is the church. And on earth, we are interconnected, interdependent in Christ.

How do we live that interdependence, as Christians, as followers of Christ?

Jesus prayed, “And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world … Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”[2]

“I am no longer in the world,” Jesus says, “but they are…” Jesus is no longer in the world. But we are. We are the hands, the feet the heart of Christ in the world for each other. We participate in the answer to Jesus’ prayer. You could say, in a sense, we are the answer to Jesus’ prayer.

“We cannot jump over this world, or its woundedness, and still try to love God. We must love God through, in, with, and even because of this world.”[3]This is the message Christianity initiated, proclaimed, and encouraged, and what Jesus modeled. We were made to love and trust this world, “to cultivate it and take care of it”[4]. The answer to Jesus’ prayer is not in some far-off heavenly realm. The crux of it all lies here, right now, and in this place and time. 

The church has left the building these last few months.  But the church has not disappeared. We are in the world. And we need each other. We are our brother’s and sister’s keeper. There is no avoiding it, especially now. 

People wear masks not to protect themselves. We wear them to protect others from possibly catching the virus from us. That is why care-givers wear masks and all sorts of other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

May this mask-wearing season of our lives be a sign and symbol of our care for one another. We don’t just say, “Stay safe”. We practice it when we are together in whatever way. Our togetherness then becomes a Christ-sign of caring for the other. When we return to the building – the day will soon come – our main focus – as it always has been implied but now fully apparent – is the care for each other.

For now, every time you pick up the phone and call someone, we are the church.

Every time you send a short email to check in on someone else, we are the church. Every time you pray, read scripture, say words of compassion and nurture thoughts and feeling of love for another, we are the church.

Every time you don a mask – even though it is awkward and not very comfortable, but you do it anyway for the sake of others, we are the church.

Every time you do this for the wellbeing and care for another, we are the church. United in Christ Jesus. For all time. And in every place.

[1]Rachel Gilmore, “It’s now recommended that Canadians wear face masks”, CTV News (20 May 2020)

[2]John 17:11

[3]Richard Rohr, “Cultivation Not Domination”, Daily Meditations (Tuesday, May 19, 2020;

[4]Genesis 2:15

God’s heart in us

I wonder many times these days how does a post-covid-19 world look like? A post-covid-19 church look like? And are we ready to tackle whatever the new normal looks like?

The honest answer – I don’t know. Does anyone? A church in Toronto has a sign in front of its building, and it now says: “Closed until God knows when.” True – only God knows when.

I’m video-recording this sermon in our home office.[1]And in my background are three doors. Not just one, nor two, but three. If you’ve never been here, you might not know which door you would use to leave, or enter into, the room.

Here’s a silly riddle … often humor is helpful in times of anxiety and fear: So, when is a door not a door? When it is a-jar. !

We may prefer the doors to remain shut always. We may prefer not only not to know what’s on the other side, but also prefer not to go there. We would rather avoid thinking about and avoid going through. We shut the doors of our imagination and willingness to wonder about what’s beyond. We would rather remain in the comfortable memories of the past – instructive and significant though they may be. But if we just stay there, scared of the unknown, uncertain future, we will refuse to take the steps of change forward.

How can we begin even to consider taking that first, tentative step – into the unknown, into a future without the certainties of the past to guide us?

I heard a podcast this week about Frank who lived out of a deep love for his son, Justin.[2]Even though his job was a fulltime professor, Frank made parenting his primary vocation for fifteen years. Frank described it this way: that during that time Justin became a person who had a part of his own, father’s heart. Frank’s heart did not belong completely to Frank alone anymore. 

No matter what happened in their relationship, Frank speculated, if Frank and his son had a falling out and they didn’t speak for twenty years, Justin was in Frank’s heart and Frank was in Justin’s heart. Justin’s joys gave Frank delight. Justin’s pain touched Frank like nothing else could. Literally, his experience was so deeply connected. Even though Justin had an identity apart from his father’s – he was his own person; he was not his father – there was nothing Justin could do that would make Frank not love him. Frank’s heart was completely embracing of him.

This is like the love between God and each of us. Like Frank with Justin, we can first experience a small taste, small glimmer of God’s all-embracing, unconditional, steadfast love in a human relationship – in marriage, in partnership with another, in parenting children, in families, among friends. In some relationship, may we come to know this feeling. And this understanding of God’s love.

Julian of Norwich wrote we are not just made by God we are made of God.[3]It’s like when God makes us, God gives a part of God’s heart into us. And God knows that feeling of no matter where we are or whatever situation we are in, no matter the highs or lows, or whether or not we’ve talked to God in months or years, God is achingly connected to us – deeply, intimately. And would have it no other way.

Rooted in being known, being met, being embraced in that blanket of love – despite and amidst all the suffering we encounter – that’s life.

In the scriptures assigned for Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost, there is a positive, affirmative and encouraging word. When Jesus prepares his disciples for when he will leave them, he tells them about the truth of our very existence: That he is in us as we are in him – or, to use Saint Paul’s oft-repeated phrase: “in Christ.”

On the surface, at first glance, it doesn’t look good for the disciples. Jesus is leaving them. When does it ever feel good to leave a friend, say goodbye, lose them or be forevermore separated from them? And then go on living, without them?

But the leave-taking of Jesus means that the power of God’s love and the energy of Jesus’ life-giving presence is now given to them. And to us. The truth is, because of Jesus’ bodily departure or absence, we will convey the power of God like never before witnessed.[4]What we leave behind turns into something wonderful we could never have imagined. Because the Spirit of God flows in and through us all. And we embody, the presence of Christ in whom we “live, move, and have our being”[5]for all time.

The Gospel message, in the light of the Easter promise, is fundamentally empowering to us. We are the bearers of Christ. Whether we see it in this moment or not. Whether we feel it or not. Whether we are able to muster our own meagre resources to realize it or not. 

But we don’t have to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We don’t have to manufacture this love, this reality, on our own. We just need to step into the flow. We just need to embrace what already is! 

Because God comes through the closed doors of our hearts – opens those doors – not to scare us, not to frighten us nor shame us nor guilt us. But simply, wonderfully, to love us.

[1]Visit, Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 17, 2020

[2]“Conversation with Frank Rogers”, Academy Podcast, May 6, 2020 (an international ministry of The Upper Room).

[3]Cited in Richard Rohr, “Julian of Norwich” in Daily Meditation (, 13 May 2020).

[4]John 14:12

[5]Acts 17:28

Divine tears, divine love

Spending more time outside these days, I’m reminded of standing in the grove, in Arnprior, with my arm outstretched, with birdseed in my open hand. I stand still, and wait.

The chickadees know that visitors to their part of the grove will sometimes bring them treats. And if they happen to be perched in the trees around you when you go with seed for them, you might have dozens of birds feeding two at a time from your hand.

This is like the posture of prayer. Which is our connection with God. Our part, is to be intentional about going into that place of prayer first of all. We have to choose to enter into it. It also a posture of being still, and being open. As with feeding the birds from your hand, prayer is about putting yourself in a position where grace can catch you. You know the saying: Faith is not so taught as it is caught.

In our relationship with God, we cannot control the outcome. We don’t know if and when what we may want will happen. The only thing we can do is return regularly to nurture that inner stance of openness to God.

Because God is free. And in our relating with God, in our prayer with God, we become free. It is in the savoring, the waiting, the creating space and time for God that over time and with practice we become free.

In a recent poll, half of respondents said their mental health has worsened over the last month, including 10 per cent who said it has worsened “a lot.” “Worried” and “anxious” were the top two answers, emotional states that experts don’t expect to dissipate any time soon.[1]

Physical distancing, for example, has taken its toll. Perhaps the most emotionally difficult aspect of this whole experience has been losing our freedom to touch, to hold, to comfort and be physically present with those we love – whether in the ICU units, gravesides or around dining room tables.

Physical distancing and self-imposed seclusion have exposed our attachments. “What do you mean I can’t visit my loved one?” we object. Our attachments correspond to what we control in our lives. Or, believe we have some control over.

Losing control over our attachments has understandably caused us increased anxiety, fear and anger. We have experienced a collective loss – a way of being community, of gathering in public places shoulder to shoulder. I wonder how long it will be, if ever, before we experience some of those things again. That is why it is so important not to delay or postpone our grief. We cannot wait until after the crisis is over to grieve.[2]

We must lament now all the things we have lost and are losing during this time – travelling, weddings, celebrations, holidays and holy days, jobs, business, dreams, friends and family members – all of it. While we can delay certain services, there is no postponing grief. Now is the time for each of us to feel it – the guilt, shame, rage, fear, frustration, denial. All of it.

I remember learning in seminary of the importance of being present to someone in ministry. We called it the ‘ministry of presence’. At the same time, we were encouraged to reflect on its counterpoint: the importance of embracing a ‘ministry of absence’.[3]That is, the healing, grace and growth that happen in times of being absent from one another. Then, I wasn’t exactly sure I understood that concept fully. But now, I am coming into a greater appreciation of its meaning.

Because during the COVID-19 crisis, we are realizing that our physical distancing – our ‘absence’ – actually saves lives. We are practising a new way of being with others. Who would have thought that creating physical distance would be an authentic and effective way to care for our loved ones and neighbours, especially the most vulnerable?

It’s hard to move in this direction, however, when we haven’t come to terms yet with our losses. The irony is that we come to affirm our healthy, life-giving connections during this crisis only by grieving what we have lost throughout all of this. Losing something or someone is letting go. Letting go is about acceptance. Acceptance is freedom.

There was a period of time shortly after I was ordained that it seemed in every funeral I did the family chose the scripture that is the Gospel for today.[4]Jesus says, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places …” It appears that at times of loss, Christians express their hope with a vision of coming home. A spiritual home. A place of union in the eternal love of God.

God shows this incredible, free, love to us now. God is a God who chooses to show that love in tears shed for us in our losses. In Christ, we can see those tears when Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus[5], when Jesus lamented over Jerusalem for murdering its prophets[6], on the cross begging for the forgiveness of those who tormented him[7].

What the present crisis is offering us is an opportunity to approach ourselves with the love and forgiveness of Jesus. So desperately needed, now. What this crisis invites us to do is become open to the love and care that is offered to one another, imperfect though it may be. What this crisis invites us to do is practice being vulnerable – with ourselves, with others and with God.

When we give ourselves to prayer – however we do it – we practice the awareness of God’s presence. One of my favourite outdoor lawn care activities is aerating the lawn. It’s when that machine goes over the lawn leaving clumps of dirt lying all over the pocketed yard. This allows much need oxygen to enter and stimulate growth in the earth. Prayer time, meditation, contemplation, biblical reading, mindful walking – this work aerates the lawn of our minds and hearts. So the breath and the life of God can enter in.

To begin with, just notice your breathing. And not just breathing in, but especially the outbreath. We can’t hold our breath forever. We can’t control it. We’ll die if we don’t let go. So, exhaling is necessary for life. It is also an act of great trust. At that moment when you finish exhaling, there is a space, the moment of ‘death’. That’s when grace happens. Trust the outbreath, and God will breathe life into you. Again.

[1]Jonathan Forani, “Half of Canadians report worsening mental health, experts say woes just beginning” (www.CTVNews.caApril 27, 2020) 

[2]Nathan Kirkpatrick, “How to think about what’s next when the future is unclear” in Faith and Leadership (Durham N.C.: Duke Divinity,, 2020)

[3]I believe the writings of Henri Nouwen introduced me to the idea of ‘absence’ being just as an important part of ministry as ‘presence’.

[4]John 14:1-14

[5]John 11:35

[6]Luke 19:41; Matthew 23:37

[7]Luke 23:34

Going through

Spring is in the air! In more ways than one we are beginning soon again. In our hearts and minds we are turning towards a new start.

With hope and anticipation we look forward to the time we can meet in person together again. We look forward to the time when we can experience the freedom to eat out, and meet in public spaces again. 

The posture in our hearts of ‘starting over’ is an Easter theme. New beginnings. New life. Like the proverbial phoenix rising again out of dust. Jesus’ resurrection announces this truth. And if it’s true with Christ, it is true everywhere and for all.

We are all beginners, rookies on the field of life. In a sense, no matter how experienced we are. Whether we have been Christian all our lives or just a few days, each time we do anything in the awareness of God-with-us, we begin again. With this attitude of always a beginner, we are then ready for anything, and open to all possibilities.

How do we start over? Remember the basic pattern of liturgy: Someone must start it all. Someone initiates the conversation and says, for example, “the Lord be with you”. Those of us practiced in this way of worship will know that the conversation may start there but doesn’t end there. We respond, “And also with you.”

There is this back-and-forth flow dynamic between God’s word, God speaking and how we hear that and what we do with that. There is this back-and-forth flow between what God says to us and our response to God’s life and love in all and for all.

How do we begin again? How do we begin each time to strengthen this relationship? We can consider Jesus’ words in the Gospel for today: “I have come to give you life and life abundantly”[1]; that is, we nurture our own lives as a responsiveness to God’s own life. Our lives share in the abundant vitality of God.

If anything, we may have been shocked by this crisis to consider how to live well. What we’ve had to stop, what we’ve had to pause, what we’ve had to close – and not just for a week or two as I suspect many of us initially expected but for months – all these restrictions are causing us to reflect on the meaning of it all and what might emerge from it.

I also suspect more and more of us are coming around to accepting that what does emerge will not be “back to normal” to the way it was right before we had to lock things down. What does emerge will likely, over time, be some kind of integration, blending, hybrid of what we have been doing in the last several weeks in physical distancing with social gathering.

During the Easter season we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. Images of Jesus tending flocks of sheep and holding the lost sheep over his shoulders populate our imaginations. Yet in the Gospel text today, specifically, Jesus self-identifies as the gate. This is one of many “I am” statements Jesus says in John’s gospel. He’ll go on later in the chapter to say “I am the good shepherd.” But here we dwell momentarily on the image of Jesus as the gate. The care, the love, the compassion of Jesus come to us through the gate.

A gate is a way through. A gate is a place of transition. A gate marks a boundary between what is and was to what can be, beyond. Jesus is that gate that beckons us forward.

We have found ourselves these days in seclusion and isolation. It is an in-between space in time, of being in that ‘already but not yet’ place. It is not a comfortable place to be in. It can be very disruptive to those especially who have lost jobs or have become sick, who have lost loved ones and who suffer fear and anxiety as a result. 

And yet, rejecting, repressing and avoiding that in-between and uncertain place keeps us from entering and going through the gate. The gateway threshold, in Christ, is in truth a graced time, but often does not feel ‘graced’ in any way. Because moving through the gate, as slow and as long as this feels like, keeps us struggling with uncertainty, and calling so-called normalcy into creative question.

In such space, we are not in control. That is why Jesus must be the gate. 

The gift of being in this place in the love of Christ is that Jesus guides and leads. Moving through this space, we do not do so on our own terms or strength. It is the love and faith of Christ that is the engine, the propulsion and momentum to new life beyond the gate.

The gate leads us to a new way of seeing and being in the world. It is the place, too, where we can begin to think and act in new ways. While we are betwixt and between now, having left one room or stage of life but not yet entered the next, the very vulnerability and openness of this space allows room for something genuinely new to happen.[2]

It’s hard now to know for sure what that ‘new thing’ exactly will be. At the same time, we can foster within us an approach to abundant life in Christ in such a way that gives life and energy to possibilities. Theologian Charles Eisenstein wrote about leaning into “a more beautiful world our hearts imagine can be possible.”[3]

The new life post-COVID, even new life in Christ, is not “now all my problems are solved”. This new life is not “going back to the way things were.” The new life is not problem free nor tripping into some sentimental, perfect past. 

It is a new thing. It is a new way of seeing the world as it is, whatever it is. The Prophet Isaiah captured this divine work in Hebrew poetry: “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”[4]

An opportunity lies before us all. We may witness a global reset of priorities. Individually, too. What are those priorities? And let’s live into them, in the weeks and months to come. Remember the life-giving visions we have seen in the last month: the foxes trapesing across the Golden Gate bridge, the clear, smog-free blue skies over Los Angeles and Himalayan peaks never before seen, the new species being discovered because of human economic restraint, the clearer waters in Venice, the political will to give financial aid to the most vulnerable in the economic crisis and recently increase the hourly wage by $4/hour to essential health care providers.[5]

Let these visions inspire us to enter the gate. Let these visions empower us to become what Jesus is calling us to be. Let new and abundant life fill you as you follow Jesus through.

[1]John 10:10

[2]Richard Rohr, ‘Liminal Space’, Daily Meditation, 26 April 2020,


[4]Isaiah 43:18-19

[5]In Ontario