Transcript of Bishop Todd Townshend’s video message for the week of June 28, 2020
I’m speaking to you today from my office in downtown London, near the Cathedral, where not too many people are today because we’re still working from home. Ontario, starting to ease back into thing—in offices, in our lives, in our churches—and I wanted to speak with you about a few things that have happened recently and some of my plans for these videos through the summer.
The first thing is that there are so many people for whom we are praying. So many people are continuing to suffer in this time of pandemic. We hold at the front of our prayers all the people who have been resisting against oppression, in every manner. There have been all kinds of ways to focus on that in this month of June. We are also praying, of course, for sisters and brothers in the Diocese of Amazonia, Brazil, who are still suffering badly—all of Brazil is—so we keep them in our prayers. We’ve heard from Bishop Marinez and our love and support is really appreciated. Our prayers are, too, so they continue.
This week we also moved into what we’re calling the “Red Stage” in Anglican church land. This is filled out by a long document (on diohuron.org) called “Loving our Neighbours”. These are guidelines and checklists that will allow us to gather together safely and responsibly over the time to come. We are really hoping that things continue to improve so that we can get into the “Amber” stage by September or October. For now, we’re in the Red Stage and there’s plenty of encouragement for us in that. So please find that document and have a look.
We also are looking forward to holding an electronically mediated diocesan Synod meeting, for those of you who are part of the Diocese of Huron, on September 26. We are finding good ways to do that and we’re working on ways to articulate our mission in this time—the kind of focus we’re going to have over the next period of time. I’m finding this quite hopeful and good work to do. We are aspiring to be open to God’s movement among us. We are aspiring to be: a learning church, where formation in faith and renewal in faith is central, a just church, where making our relationships right is really at the core of what we do—including relationships with one another, with our institutions, and with all of Creation. Our aspiration is to become a diverse church. A Diversity Circle is beginning to meet, in fact we were talking this week about how to go about that. And we aspire to be a “new” church, there is a new creation in the resurrection life. So, we’re organizing and planning for our future and the way that we speak about our future according to those terms.
Over the next eight or nine weeks I’d like to offer these videos in a way that is a little more homiletical, a little more closely aligned to the scriptures found in our lectionary, and I’m going to be basically preaching little seven or eight minute sermons, that you can use however you’d like, according to our lectionary. Some people won’t know what “the lectionary” is. It’s simply the suggested readings that churches may use—it’s a “common” lectionary used together with many other churches and denominations. (Revised Common Lectionary) This is the bible organized in a particular way. In Year A, the season after the Day of Pentecost, which is that long period of time from Trinity Sunday (June 7 this year) right through to when Advent begins a new liturgical year, near the end of November (Nov. 29 this year). This period is called “Ordinary Time” (or “the season after Pentecost”). This year there is a series of readings that follows right through selected parts of the book of Genesis. What I’d like to do is to take the bible into our hands and move to the very first book and read it together. Comparing it to the message of all of the books, the overall message, of the Bible, I will try to speak about these stories—this word from God that we share with Jewish and Muslim people around the world—what these stories can mean, who these characters are, and what it says to us in this time. I’m looking forward to diving into the book of Genesis with you.
Where will that take us? Well, starting next week, we’ll get into it a little more closely but it we look quickly back to June 7 we see that we heard from the very first words in Genesis 1, one of the two Creation stories—the one that speak about God beginning creation in seven days. Then, June 14, we moved quickly over a whole bunch of things in there—that I’ll have a look at in the weeks to come—to Genesis 18, where we hear the beginning of this theme, and this relationship with Abraham and Sarah. There is a sense of barrenness in their lives, there is a lot of wandering, and God speaks a promise about a future into their lives. It’s met with laughter—and I look forward to exploring what that means with you.
Then there is a series of stories and characters that reveal the names and lives of our ancestors in faith. June 21, the story of Ishmael and Isaac and Hagar. June 28, the story of Abraham’s command to sacrifice Isaac, maybe the most difficult passage in all of the scriptures. July 5, Genesis 24 is the story of Rebekah and Isaac. July 12, Genesis 25, we’ll hear about the twins, Esau and Jacob. July 19, Genesis 28, the blessing is handed on to Jacob, hearing about Jacob’s ladder and the important place he calls Bethel. July 26, we hear more about Jacob’s life. Into August, we’ll see an attempt at reconciliation between brothers, wrestling with the angel (of God?). And then through August, Joseph’s dreams, and so on, right until the last Sunday of August.
So, we’ll make that exploration. Of course, at the same time, there are readings from the letter to the Romans and the Gospel of Matthew alongside. We’ll see what comes! I’ll be learning and I’ll be preparing to speak to you from the book of Genesis.
I wish all of you a great week. I wish you many blessings. We pray for those who suffer, those who are vulnerable, and we thank God for the life that we’re living, even now. See you next week.