Friday, October 14, 2016

Blessed Feasts of Blessed Martyrs: Remember (Commemoration of Saint Faith, 16 October 2016)

Blessed Feasts of Blessed Martyrs

Commemoration of Saint Faith
16 October 2016

Saint Faith’s Anglican Church
Vancouver BC
            She was only twelve years old when her life faced its greatest challenge.  The political winds that were ravaging her city had passed her by, but now they blew her into the eye of the storm.  She came face to face to the most powerful political figure in her region.  At first he seemed to be anxious to spare her and treated her in an almost fatherly way.  After all, who wants to be seen bullying a child or a young person?  But when she continued to refuse to trim her sails to the prevailing winds, he lost his temper and condemned her to death.  When certain bystanders expressed their outrage at his decision, he condemned them to death as well.
            We don’t know the exact year.  It may have been 287 ce or 290 ce or 303 ce.  What we do know is that this story, a story that has been repeated throughout human history in one form or another, inspired Christians to remember a young woman whose name was ‘Faith’.
            For Christians memory is a vital dimension of our religious belief.  We even have a particular word for it:  anamnesis.  Anamnesis is not an intellectual act of recalling a particular event or a particular person from the past.  Anamnesis means invoking the memory of something or someone from the past in order to bring into the present all that the past event or person means.  Our ‘remembering’ has a future dimension as well; we remember so that our present can be the foundation for our future.
            Each time we celebrate the eucharist we remember.  In the words we read and recite from the Scriptures we remember that we are a community whose experience reaches thousands of years into the past and whose future is only limited by the imagination of God.  In the intercessions, petitions and thanksgivings we offer we remember that we are a people for others, that we are people with our own needs and that we are a people who receive from the bounty of God.  In the bread broken and the wine poured we remember the witness of Jesus who has shown us a way of discipleship of justice, of faithful love and of humility before God.
By remembering the Holy Spirit empowers us to be God’s people in the here and now so that the future will grow into the shape of God’s kingdom.
            Today we gather not only to remember our patron saint but to begin our annual fall financial campaign.  As your Rector I ask to remember our Parish in your financial stewardship.  Why?
            Saint Faith’s gathers people into life-giving community.  Although worship is the most visible and public way we gather people together, we gather people in other ways as well.  We gather preschool children together with teachers, so that they can be nurtured into caring and responsible adults.  We gather our neighbours together to make music, to learn new skills and to be supported in recovery.  In a metropolitan area where isolation is experienced by many, we gather people into community.
            We transform people into agents of God’s love.  This transformation comes through baptism and eucharist and daily prayer.  But transformation also comes through the children who discover the wonder of the world here and through the ministry of our Community Pastoral Resource Centre where people are guided to the services they need to thrive.  In a society where many people feel powerless, we transform lives.
            We send people forth to participate in God’s mission of renewal and reconciliation.  Whether through our many outreach projects and initiatives or through our own sharing of the good news in our homes, our workplaces, our neighbourhoods and our world, God works with us to achieve God’s purposes.  In a world where challenges about, we send out people to work with God.

            So today remember Faith, the young woman who gave away her life but by doing so transformed the future.  Remember the Parish of Saint Faith, a community who for sixty-nine years has gathered, transformed and sent forth people to work for God’s kingdom in this place.  Remember our past, live as God’s people in the present and work with God for the future.

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