St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Edmonton took a step forward in a season of change on Sunday, February 2, with a full and joyous service of induction and confirmation.
Bishop Jane preached and presided, her sermon focusing on the story from the gospel of Luke, chapter two, in which Mary and Joseph encounter Simeon when they go to present Jesus in the temple.
“Imagine the baby Jesus, the old man Simeon, and the young Mary,” she said, “all looking at each other in this collapsing of past and future, of tradition and innovation, all in a kind of glorious theological explosion.”
Simeon was possibly the first person to have a ‘bucket list,’ the Bishop suggested. “The only thing on Simeon’s list was to see the Lord’s Messiah, and God had promised that he would.”
“Scripture doesn't tell us how long he lived with this knowledge. He must have got discouraged at times. Day after day, month after month, year after year, waiting, waiting waiting. Looking into the eyes of everyone he passed in the temple, waiting to hear the voice of God say, ‘This is the one, Simeon! This is the one you've been waiting for.’”
“And then one day, Simeon not only got to see it, he got to hold it in his arms. In that moment his life was fulfilled. In that one moment, he knew that God kept God's promises and that all of Israel and the world would be redeemed. Simeon saw the face of God in the baby Jesus.”
“Where does the world see Jesus? Where does each one of us see Jesus?"
The Bishop left the pulpit to walk down the center aisle of the church. "This is where we see Jesus," she said, holding a young girl in front of her. "And here," she said, moving from one parishioner to another: "And here, and here…”
Later in the service, for the induction of the Ven. Richard King, Bishop Jane used a liturgy created by Blackburn diocese in the U.K. The liturgy calls for commitments by priest and people in the same way as the Book of Alternative Services does. One difference, though, is a section that specifically calls on the incoming rector and the leadership team within the church to commit themselves to collaboration.
The leadership team at St. John's includes assistant priest the Rev. Cameron Burns, curate the Rev. Maryann Amor, children's ministers Hanna Keim and Melissa Chaffee and youth pastor Blake Holt (Emma Peters stood in for Blake who was on a weekend away with the youth). All stood together with Richard as he promised to "work with his colleagues in the service of Christ and support them in their ministry."
The team then promised to "take care with Richard to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace and together build up the common life.”
The liturgy also includes explicit reference to the mission of God for the church. The Bishop began by calling on priest and people to "be reminded of their duties within the Church of God and to affirm readiness to share in fulfilling our vision to be missional and healthy churches who transform communities.”
The induction concluded with the prayer:
"Heavenly Father, we embrace your call for us to make disciples, to be witnesses and to grow leaders. Give us eyes to see your vision, ears to hear the prompting of your Spirit and courage to follow in the footsteps of your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen."
The confirmation of parishioner Sherin Anna Manuel made the service even more special. Presented by Rev. Cameron and supported by family and friends Sherin renewed her baptismal vows and was joined by all 275 in attendance in proclaiming the baptismal covenant, before the Bishop prayed for her.
In a Tweet Sunday evening, Bishop Jane described this induction and confirmation service, held on the Presentation of the Lord, as simply, “joyful.”
Story by the Rev. Shelly King, photos by Sue Phillips, SJE, Edmonton