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By Rev. Canon Christopher B. J. Pratt

Is the Father with us?

He is!

Is Christ among us?

He is!

Is the Spirit here?

He is!

This is our God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

With episcopal permission in both the Diocese of Huron and the Diocese of Niagara, I have been able to use the Kenyan Canon when I have had the opportunity to preside at the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

My awareness of the words of the Kenyan Canon came from the work done by the present Bishop of Brandon, when he was offering ministry in the Diocese of Huron, as he collected and published a variety of eucharistic prayers from around the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Whenever I have presented the Kenyan Canon in worship, I have taken a moment or two at the very outset of my homily to review the eucharistic prayer with the congregation. As I have initially gone over the call and response which began this article, the community of faith usually participates in a very muted, very polite manner. After some encouragement, as I ask them to let the joy of our shared faith find expression in their participation in this moment of worship, the volume of their response gets cranked up, and the unbridled joy of their love for Jesus breaks forth from the shackles of Anglican reverential politeness.

It is a wonderful experience! It is a joy to see the smiles and to feel the excitement as the congregation claims the presence of the Holy Trinity as a reality in our shared worship.

I was taken aback, on one occasion, when I was approached after a joy-filled worship experience by an individual who had not felt the joy of the moment, and who had, in fact, felt some pain and frustration. The use of the word “He” as a description of the Holy Trinity was the focus of their discomfort.

The Gospels and Epistles and the other texts recording the life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, use many words to share the Good News. Yet, in all their numbers, the words themselves fall short of a very specific goal. My own Father offered a brief reflection in one of his sermons which is indelibly etched in my life. He said:
"The totality of God can never be caught up within a net of words”.

After having recently moved from a home of eighteen years into a new home and after packing and unpacking a significant number of boxes, each with their own collection of books, I must affirm the truth offered at the conclusion of the Gospel of St John:

“There is much else that Jesus did. If it were all to be recorded in detail, I suppose the whole world could not hold the books that would be written”. (St John 21:25)

How do you use words to express your thoughts, your feelings, or your emotions? Do your words always have the impact that you have hoped for? Are you always understood, valued and appreciated in the way in which you communicate? Do your words build up or wound the person you are speaking with? What unknown sensitivities does the person who hears your words have? Do the words that you use have the same meaning for you as the one who hears or reads them?

A young poet, seeking to express the sense of loss at the end of a relationship wrote:

Love is a word oft times abused,    
And one that should not be overused,
But that word is heaven - sent,
To explain the joy,
And what it meant,
Being together.

The words that we use this Easter Season will never be enough to capture the full impact and experience of what it means to be the focus of Divine, Sacrificial Love. We proclaim the joy at the heart of our faith:

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!

The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!

The words of the Kenyan Canon (slightly revised) also seek to joyfully express the reality of the moment, as it has an impact throughout our lives:

We are (God’s) People!

We are Redeemed!

May the words you use, serve you well, as you seek to express your faith each day of your life.

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

Illustration:  Michelangelo. Group of Soldiers for the Crucifixion of Saint Peter, drawing (detail). Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples