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“Not the Sermon” Message

This Week at Trinity, Beamsville

Friday, April 12, 2019

Dear Friends,

            This week’s writing process has not come easily.  I’ve searched for words, even as they seemed to swirl around me.  All week long, in setting after setting, it felt like an extended journey of seeking the right words for the right moment.  This feels like a continuation, in print.

            When I was an undergraduate in English and History, virtually everything assigned, everything researched, everything submitted and critiqued, was inextricably linked to accurate expression.  Understanding someone’s else text or offering my own; immersing myself in tellings and interpretations of events in time, and deconstructing the layers that informed said tellings – all of that hinged on expression.  As much as it was a degree in the Arts and Social Science, the pursuit of language often felt like a dissection of sorts, every time words appeared on the page.

            If I could go back in time, I would try to give myself the gift of seeing the greater beauty of it all.  Maybe it’s an impossible ask, to suggest that a young person seek the long view of anything, in the midst of pursuing a course to earn a degree to enter a program to secure a profession.  Somehow in that worrisome place, the immediate details can matter so much that it seems okay to set aside the bigger truths they hold together.  And then suddenly, it’s a quarter century later and you find yourself returning to those same texts, longing to feel their breadth and depth, amid all the meanings. 

            Were you to venture into my office shelves, you would find most of my undergraduate texts scattered among the large collection.  While I don’t mind parting with some books, and have been working at purging those I no longer use, there’s a powerful sense that the literature and history I once dissected needs to stay with me – if only to remind me to return to them someday.  There is a sense of timelessness that needs or wants to be revisited; to be seen with and from the benefit of time passed, life lived, sorrows held, and love sustained.

            It is that same longing to return that pours itself out each year in this liturgical frame.  On the edge of Palm Sunday, and therefore on the edge of another Holy Week, there is the recurrent expectation that this might be the year.  Maybe this will be the year the apparent contradictions of Jesus’ jubilant entry begin to sort themselves out.  With countless resources and reflections at my disposal, and thousands more in the online expanse, there are words on words of careful dissection, sifting through the Hosannas and the cloak covered road.  I don’t discount any of their wisdom, but I’m learning to hold them with less of a technical grip.  I’m learning to let those words sway in rhythm with the beautiful palms.  Lifting and floating in to the mystery of that moment, and accepting that there will be pieces beyond my heart’s imagination, I rest better and more deeply in the knowledge that I don’t have to know all the whats and the whens in order to experience who and why.  Like the children who lined the way, watching Jesus lead what would become The Way, may this Palm Sunday surround us all with words and songs of praise; and may they simultaneously lead us to a place of the heart, far beyond words.  May we be led to peace and courage, for this Holy Week, and all that comes after.  

            With love to you all,


Hosanna in the highest!  That ancient song we sing, for Christ is our Redeemer, let your anthems ring.  O may we ever praise him with heart and life and voice, and in his humble presence eternally rejoice!”  (Voices United 123; Jennette Threlfall, 1873)

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