This week are Ember Days - days set aside on the Christian Calendar for fasting, prayer and for giving thanks for creation.
Most of you are aware that we (Flo and I) have just returned from a trip through the 3 western provinces of this great country. This Fall trip was indeed an opportunity to marvel at what God created, not only for our joy but also for us to protect and care for.
In Matthew 4.18-20, we read: 'As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people." At once, they left their nets and followed him.'
In this account, Jesus is calling some of his first disciples to join him in ministry. This section of Matthew’s gospel is interesting on several fronts; some stand out for me.
There is Jesus, coming upon these professional fishermen, and calling for them to join him in what, at that moment, was a relatively unknown project. This is followed by them simply abandoning their father—in the middle of the lake. At the same time, imagine giving up your livelihood for an unknown.
One of the factors which stood out for us, on our trip this summer, was the risk of the unknown: the risk some professionals face every day in their lives.
First, we saw some of the damage caused by the forest fires. Then, as we travelled through Alberta, we saw a lot of large oil-industry equipment sitting idle, waiting for better days. In Eastern Alberta and Western Saskatchewan, we saw the crop fields which would not be harvested this year, due to drought. As we travelled, the controversial pipeline travelled along with us on either side. At this stage, it remains an unknown.
All of this reminds: we have such little control when it comes to creation. At the same time, we forge ahead. Each day, we go forth into the world to proclaim the good news of the gospel.
In some ways, we may say, we are together in the wild side of life—the Unknown.
Bishop Anna describes this as ‘liminal’ time. 'The word liminal comes from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning threshold – any point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, a season of waiting and not knowing. Liminal space is where all transformation takes place, if we learn to wait and let it form us.'
The fisherman, the oil worker, the farmer, and the pipeline worker, are each standing in that liminal space—between what was, what is (the immediate,) and what will be.
We, in the church, are always in that liminal space—between what was and what is to be. In this space of unknowing, we must build trust.
In all of the industries highlighted, we see men and women who are prepared to stand in this moment—to stand with our Lord in giving thanks for the gifts of creation.
We have, for 17 years, made the annual trip across these 3 provinces. We have many highlights, and this year was no exception: travelling east through Jasper Park, we watched one of the largest elk we will likely see in our life. On the way home, we witnessed the first fresh snow on the mountain ranges.
In the spirit of Ember Days, we can say there will be tomorrow.
There will be transformation in our life of the gospel: the spirit of God will nudge, and poke, us along the way, bringing change — sometimes, without us even knowing.
Blessings for this week, Archdeacon Brian+