LOGO angelican
May 2013
Vol 5 Issue 9

Practicing Month to Month

Dear friends,


  As May begins we look forward to some warmer weather and all the blessings that spring and summer bring.    May at St. Laurence will include a Sunday series looking at the 5 areas of strength for us as a community.  Community, Outreach, Hospitality, Spiritual Enrichment and the Contribution this parish makes to the Diocese.  We will highlight these areas May 5 - June 2 and look for ways we can further grow in each of these areas.
This month as we continue to explore the spiritual practice of justice we are blessed to have Wayne Stewart write about this theme below.
Towards the end of May we very much look forward to having Herb O'Driscoll with us for a Wisdom Centre event.  Herb will give an evening lecture here at St. Laurence on Thursday, May 23.  Friday there will be an all day workshop where Herb will speak and participants will have an opportunity to explore and discuss the themes Herb presents.  His theme for the two days involves the Re-Enchantment of the Contemporary Christian quest in our changing and secular society.
 Sunday, May 26 we are blessed to have Herb as our preacher.  Please join us and invite friends, family and neighbours.  Registration is required for Thursday and Friday.  Go to www.wisdomcentre.ca/events in the next few days to get the early bird rates.






Wayne Stewart on Justice as Spiritual Practice



How one thinks about social justice and the obligations that emerge from a commitment to the concept varies with the context of the times. We can point to progress when compared to, for example, the 'dirty thirties,' and we can confirm that serious financial resources have been allocated to social issues (some may think that we have actually 'solved' homelessness with long range plans).

Why then, we wonder, do needs persist? We dream of a day when a particular service will no longer be required and continue to provide the service as though it were a forever thing. Perhaps we are stuck on the surface, responding to the immediate need rather than looking deeply for a cure for the cause.


Easy to get stuck for the cause of, for example, poverty is complex, elusive and multi-faceted and the cure at least equally so. As we understand the concept broadly and/or in a particular case, we ponder the place of the church as a collective and our individual role. What does our Christian obligation require of us, individually? Collectively? How can we make a significant contribution? Can we end the issue once and for all or must we simply accept that "the poor will always be with us" (Jesus' message has been misunderstood and used to justify ill ends) so what is the use? Where has the church been when needs are evident and is it simply irrelevant as a collective in these complex times?


My personal sense of obligation to engage in social justice is driven by a number of scriptural passages. The response to the question "what does the Lord require of you?" in Micah 6:8, "to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" is a call to justice and mercy practiced with humility. This has inspired me to action for those suffering injustice and to walk with them through times of difficulty and despair and hopelessness.


Jesus tells us in Luke 12:48 that "from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded." This reminds me that as my resources (time, talent and treasure) grow, so does my obligation to share with those who have been given much less, often not even enough for food and shelter.


My faith is tested by the words from James 2:26- "faith without works is dead." The importance of my faith as foundation has become increasingly obvious as my contribution to social justice has evolved. Faith and works grow simultaneously, one nurturing the growth of the other.


As a committed life-long learner, I listen for messages from all possible sources, from conversations, courses, books. Background on the social gospel movement in the early 1900s is a clear indication of the important role of the church as collective in encouraging just legislative and corporate practices. Interestingly, the Social Creed adopted in 1908 identifies "living wage, equitable division and abatement of poverty" among the issues for which the church "must stand." Would that they had achieved these objectives . 99 years later, the American churches adopted a "Social Creed for the 21st Century." Recognizing the changed context, this creed calls for "a society that shares more and consumes less, equality over domination, grace over greed in economic life, public service as a high vocation, a family-sustaining living wage." The Creed offers solutions, including "tax and budget policies that reduce disparities between the rich and the poor." Times have changed, or have they?


Equally interesting is the recognition that social issues persist and the comparison of the significant impact of the early movement with the relative lack of effect of the church in current times. Who among us even knew of the 2007 effort?


The Bible is full of admonitions to "proclaim the gospel." I read that as a call to advocacy in the midst of social injustice. We know from recent research that the most successful service organizations are those that combine action and advocacy. As they serve needs, they discover issues that require voice. Surely there is a message in this finding for our individual effort. Just as faith without works is dead, action without advocacy condemns us to social injustice with no end.


My work on social justice has evolved from corporate giving, where only the 'safe' areas were funded, through the community foundation, where I began to understand more basic needs, to domestic violence, homelessness and poverty, where I came face to face with the most basic needs of people. My sense of obligation grew along with my understanding of the issues.


A common issue (cause) in all cases of the most egregious human needs is lack of financial resources. In a province of such wealth, it is clear that we have enough for all. Why then do so many suffer from lack?


Along with Wilkinson ("The Spirit Level"), I am convinced that the root issue is inequality. Too few of us have a lot more than our share, leaving too little for the many who suffer. And the problem gets more severe every day (no surprise that the call for equality persists from 1908 to 2007). Unless and until we deal with inequality, our neighbours in need will remain so and our community will not be great for anyone.


Where are my faith and the concept of social justice calling me from here forward? My wife Martha would hope that I stop trying to change the world. But if the world might be a better place for my efforts, a place more like that which God intended, seems to me that humility requires that I keep trying. The central place of inequality in many of the issues that have been part of my life elicits a particularly strong call.


I am drawn to the call in the 2007 Social Creed for "tax and budget policies that reduce disparities between the rich and the poor" as a significant first response to inequality. I hope to enjoin my church as a collective in advocating for just policies that provide opportunity for all of God's people in our community, our home, our Calgary.


We have resources and voice and we need to use both.

Faith and works, action and advocacy, justice and mercy, cures for causes, obligation commensurate with gifts, service as high vocation. Messages on social justice that do not and will not and should not change.






May at St. Laurence


Wednesday, May 1 7:30 pm Bible Study.  Please read the first three chapters of the Book of Acts and come with your questions. 


Thursday, May 2 9:30 am Centering Prayer with Geri Urch


Sunday, May 5 10 am Sunday Service. Elizabeth McLennan to preach and lead "Conversations" re: St. Laurence and Community.


Wednesday, May 8. 7:30 pm Bible Study.  Book of Acts.


Sunday, May 12.10 am Service. Anna to preach.  "Conversations" and discussion about St. Laurence and Outreach.


 Wednesday, May 15. 7:30 pm Bible Study.  Book of Acts.


 Thursday, May 16, 9:30 am Centering Prayer Service  with Geri Urch


Sunday, May 19 10 am Sunday Service. Anna to preach.  OJ Scott to speak about St. Laurence and Hospitality.
Wednesday, May 22. 7:30 pm Bible Study.  Book of Acts.


 Thursday, May 23 7:30 pm. Wisdom Centre Event with  Herb O'Driscolll. "Fashion Me a Church"  How do Christians today recover the roots of faith to discover how it can form their understanding of the contemporary world?  How do we build structures for community that will enable and nurture Christian Spirituality.  $25 at the door or $20 by registering at www.wisdomcentre.ca/events
Friday, May 24 - 9:30 -3:30 Wisdom Centre event with Herb O'Driscoll.  "Morning Has Broken - The Re-Enatment of the Contemporary Christian Quest"  Three presentations by Herb and a chance for participants to dig into the themes with Herb and one another. $50 registration at www.wisdomcentre.ca/events
Sunday, May 26 10 am Service. Herb O'Driscoll to preach   
Wednesday, May 29. 7:30 pm Bible Study.  Book of Acts.