A couple of weeks ago, I presided at my first Book of Common Prayer Eucharist. Its a lovely service and, like many across the Anglican Church of Canada, our is attended by a small but faithful group of people at 8 o’clock in the morning.
In preparing for this service, there were a few “extra” details that were really important for me to have alongside that morning. The red prayer book I used belonged to my mother. In it are small handwritten notes, instructions she had no doubt penciled in to assist her in serving at the table in the parish where I grew up. I continue to use this BCP for myself, though it is a little small to consistently use for presiding at services!
The green stole I wore for the service was an ordination gift last year. It was given to me by the wife of a retired, and now sadly deceased, priest; a couple I got to know when attending the Cathedral in Victoria. The stole is a stunning piece of embroidery, but its meaning goes deeper than its beauty. The stole belonged to Archdeacon Bob MacRae, former rector of the parish I now serve and the first secretary of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, where I currently volunteer as a board member. Bob, and his wife Sue, have both been supporters of me pursuing ordained ministry and it is an honour to wear his stole.
These two items used are a reminder of two faithful people, now passed, as well as reminder of the long tradition I have been called to participate in. For me they are symbols of the timelessness of faith alongside the call to make old things new as we seek to serve God in a generation. They ground me in my past and propel me towards the future.
A number of months ago, I was approached by folks at the Faculty of Theology at Huron about being interviewed for a promotional video for the Master of Divinity program. Logistics of me being in Victoria and the videographer being in London made it a challenge at first, but we managed to find a time when I was in Toronto for PWRDF meetings to sit down and talk about my experiences of that program. I said lots of things, most of which was, I’m sure, incoherent. But James, the amazing videographer, somehow took them and made me sound intelligent! Many thanks to Todd, the Dean of the Faculty, for trusting me with saying things about that great place. Honoured to be with David Giffen in his beautiful parish for this video.
On Saturday, July 22nd, Matthew and I were ordained priests. It was a pretty special day with many of our friends and and family, as well as some of our professors from Huron in attendance. It was a lovely service, and I am so grateful to (and proud of!) the folks at St John’s for pulling out all of the stops to host our first ordination in a long time. They did a magnificent job. The Rev. Canon Dr. Martin Brokenleg let us on a retreat for the week prior to the ordination and preached at the service itself. It was an impacting sermon, which can be heard here, on St John’s website.
The feast commemorated on the day of our ordination was St Mary Magdalene. To be ordained on her feast day was an added plus for me. She is called the first woman to preach the gospel because of her witness to the resurrection of Jesus and her testifying his resurrection to the disciples. In a church where the ordination is still relatively new (only 41 years in Canada) and a world where women still face opposition to being in church leadership (or any kind of leadership), to have my priesthood forever connected to Mary Magdalene is a reminder that this isn’t new or unusual. It is ordained by God.
In November 2015, we welcomed a small furball into our lives.
She came to us via some friends from seminary when she was about eight months old. She had been picked up as a part of a program that sterilized feral cats in London – apparently our little furball was a gangster for the first few months of her life. You wouldn’t know it, however, which is likely why the vet who picked her up decided to adopt her out rather than re-releasing her with the feral cats. We don’t know her exact birth date, but the vet estimated that it was sometime in February.
Matthew and I started dating in February. So this week, as we celebrated three years of being together, we decided to declare it Cricket’s birthday as well.
So, happy birthday little love! You still don’t do much more than squeak and whirrr at us, and you have a tipped ear that hints at your first few months, but you are cute and loving and we couldn’t ask for a more affectionate cat.
Today is the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women in the Anglican Church of Canada and the 30th anniversary of the same in the Diocese of British Columbia, where I serve. As someone pointed out yesterday, women have been ordained in this church for longer than I have been alive … though again, not in this diocese.
I am grateful for those first six women who pushed through that particular stained glass ceiling and began to forge a way for many of the rest of us to follow. I am grateful for many women in leadership in the church, both lay and ordained, who have shown me what it means to be a strong woman of faith.
And while I have been fortunate to know many of these women and follow in the footsteps of these women, I cannot help but think of other women in other parts of the church who do not worship in a place where they get to see a woman holding the bread and say, “this is my body, broken for you…”
I think of my teenaged self in the year 2000, sitting in the general assembly of an evangelical Christian denomination where it was decided not to decide whether or not women would be allowed in positions of leadership in the church. And then five or six years later in a congregation of that same denomination (yes, I stayed for six more years) where I was asked to be on the elder search committee. Because while they recognized I had what they were looking for to be an elder, I was a woman so all I could do was choose the men who might serve in that role.
I think of my godmother who is more qualified than I am to be a deacon but cannot be (yet?), who faces opposition when she even sets foot behind the altar to serve priests, deacons, and bishops. But yet who persists so that her granddaughter will know that women can also serve Jesus in church.
I think of some of my classmates from seminary who so obviously have a call on their lives but who, as of yet, have to content themselves with lay leadership while they push for a change in the church that they love.
So today I am thankful for the women who have gone before me. And I know that I cannot take where I am for granted and must keep striving for equality for all of us while celebrating those who have gone before.
I don’t always remember their names but I often recognize their faces as I walk through downtown. Each familiar face reminds me of a story.
She was always really quiet in the shelter. She would get up early each morning to try her hand at getting a temporary day labor job. Some days she was successful, some days not.
The last time I saw him he had just been housed in his own home. Today he looks pretty good and so I have hope that he is still housed.
She used to spend all of her time trying to get her children back from foster care. There has been a child with her lately and I wonder if it is one of them?
Sometimes I am not sure if it is a familiar face or not. Faces weather a lot faster when you live on the street, often rendering them unrecognizable in just a few short years. Sometimes I am relieved to see a familiar face – it means they are not dead – and sometimes I am saddened when they do not look well. Regardless, I pass by with a quiet prayer.
Classes started up again last week. I think. But I’m all done school [for]now.
Three years ago I was back to school for a new degree. I was meeting new friends for the very first time and getting settled in a new city in a province I hadn’t lived in for nearly 20 years. And now I’ve been seeing pictures from friends gathered around in fellowship together and it feels strange not being there.
Instead, I’m across the country sitting in the office I’ve been sitting in since June. At work.
Three years ago, I was not thrilled to leave Victoria to return to Ontario. Yes, I was anticipating seminary and all that might bring, and I was looking forward to living closer to family members I’d never lived closer to than a 4-6 hour drive. But I didn’t really want to leave the life I’d made on the Island.
And now I’m back in Victoria. It is a completely different life than I left and than I thought I would come home to. I find myself missing London! (I’ll change my tune when winter hits.) I miss the family there. I miss the friends at school. I miss some of the places.
It really hit home a week an a half ago when one of my former coworkers in London suddenly and unexpectedly died. Friends gathered at the home of another coworker to tell stories and I felt pretty isolated on the other coast. Yet amidst that, I had some amazing conversations with former coworkers that I hadn’t spoken with since we moved.
And in the middle of it all, all things are being made new. We have a new home in a new city with new jobs doing new things that we hadn’t imagined three years ago. We’re making new memories together and exploring new places. And that is pretty great.