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By Rev. Canon Christopher B. J. Pratt

As the Archbishop of Jerusalem led a call for a day of prayer and fasting for peace, my thoughts turned to what message I would be able to offer, as together we observe the Advent and Christmas Seasons during the final days of the Year of Our Lord 2023.

The list of matters which continue to cause us all concern and distress is long. The impact of an ongoing pandemic will be with us for the foreseeable future. Wildfires, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes find their way into news cycles on a regular basis. The reality of the devastation of war and the increasing stress of growing tension in different parts of our global village is brought into our homes and into our lives through daily news reports and up to the minute social media connections. 

As all these stresses and strains impact the world around us each of us faces inescapable challenges of personal concern. The care of our own physical, emotional and mental well - being must be given priority so that we, our own way, may offer love, care and support to those whose lives touch ours. Our families, our friends and those individuals and communities with whom we have a connection need us to be a resource upon whom they may be able to depend.

Into this melee and turmoil comes a message of hope. The words of the Gospel of St Luke as presented in the First Nations Version of the Gospels provides a different insight into a familiar story.

That night, in the fields nearby, shepherds were keeping watch over their sheep. Suddenly a great light from above was shining all around them. A spirit - messenger from Creator appeared to them.

They shook with fear and trembled as the messenger said to them, “ Do not fear; I bring you the Good Story that will be told to all nations…

Suddenly, next to the messenger, a great number of spirit warriors from the world above appeared giving thanks to Creator saying,

All honour to the One Above Us All and peace and good will follow all who walk upon the earth. (St. Luke 2: 8-10 & 13,14 FNV)

As I read those words, it struck me how much we have in common with the shepherds. In the midst of our daily routine, we are left in fear and trembling by those things happening outside of our control which are having an impact on our lives. The “Good Story” is one which we need to be reminded of each day.

For me, the intriguing element in this presentation of the Christmas story is contained in verse 14: “…peace and good will follow all who walk upon the earth.” The First Nations Version of the Gospels offers a very inclusive insight into our human nature.

All of us who ”walk upon the earth” have within us a Divine spark of peace and good will.  As all too many Canadians know from personal experience, it only takes a spark to get a fire going. Years ago, as we closed the front door of the rectory in Owen Sound to go on a family outing on Epiphany Sunday, an electrical spark ignited a fire which devastated the building and had our family out of our home for eight months. The financial, practical support and goodwill of our Parish Family and our Diocesan Family enabled our core family to navigate through the experience.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and Jerusalem call our Anglican Communion to pray for peace in that troubled part of our global village. Perhaps this year, there may be a way in which the practical gift of financial support through the Anglican Church of Canada Companions of Jerusalem may bring a sense of peace to lives where survival is a primary focus of each day.

Perhaps this year as we look at the devastation caused by natural disasters in our own country, offering a practical gift through our PWRDF ministry would bring some peace of mind to those Canadians who are trying to put their lives back together.

All you have to do is look around you at the local level and see the need where Food Banks call for support, where veterans are numbered among the homeless, where needs which do not make media headlines and may be known to you alone cry out for a response. Perhaps this year, instead of the accumulation of, or the gifting of, more “stuff”, you might consider the option of bringing some peace into the lives of those in need by offering practical support of your time, your talents or your finances wherever you prioritize your own resources.

At any level and at every level of our lives there is a need for us to be the means by which Divine Peace is given expression. For all of us, prayerful support is a primary option.

From the Iona Community comes this Universal Prayer for Peace:

Lead us from death to life,

from falsehood to truth.

Lead us from despair to hope,

from fear to trust.

Lead us from hate to love,

from war to peace.

Let peace fill our lives,

our  world, our universe.


Through our prayers and by whatever practical means are a viable option for us in our own situation, may the Seasons of Advent and Christmas provide us all with moments when we, as we ”walk upon the earth”, will bring some spark of Divine Peace into this troubled world.  

Rev. Canon Christopher B. J. Pratt has retired from full-time parish ministry but continues to offer priestly ministry in the Diocese.