Peter Fitch discusses the metaphors that Jesus uses in John, chapter 10. He is the Gate and He is the Good Shepherd. Then Peter focuses on verse 16 where Jesus says that He has other sheep, “not of this fold.” This leads Peter to speculate about who these people might be. One candidate, he thinks, is Rumi, the 13th century Turkish Sufi master, and he reads two brilliant poems, The Great Wagon and Moses and the Shepherd, to illustrate this thought
Peter Fitch wonders how to bring together the teaching of Jesus and St. Paul that we ought to live as though we had no rights while at the same time trying to respond to oppressive systems by advocating for justice. He finds great wisdom in Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (April, 1963) and also in a recent documentary at Toronto’s Hot Docs Film Festival called Faceless, about the courage of young protestors in Hong Kong.
We began this service by listening to Art Garfunkel singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in a concert at Central Park. We finished by listening to Patty Griffin sing “Up to the Mountain”, a song she wrote to honour Dr. King.
Peter Fitch examines the parable of the Wedding Banquet from Matthew 22. It seems harsh at first reading. Peter wonders whether historical context played a role in this. Then he looks at it through the eyes of Peter Rollins, who sees in it an invitation to a new community without hierarchical divisions based on ethnicity, economics, or gender. Finally, Peter Fitch wonders about this parable as an invitation to come to the table with all that we have, embracing the rich and important moments of life.
Jessica Williams spoke this morning from her recently finished MA thesis entitled “Kenotic Love and the Soul’s Transformation.” She shared teachings that have touched her life from St. Macrina the Younger, from 4th century Cappadocia, and some similar ideas from 20th century Trappist monk, Thomas Merton. It is a beautiful talk. It will help people believe that the best way to reveal the true self is through acceptance and generosity rather than through constant wallowing in a sense of shame.
Peter Fitch used songs from various bands and choirs as icons for us to remember our need to fix ourselves and our broken societies, the blend of human giftedness and divine need, how important it is to stand against hate crimes afflicting Asian people, our indebtedness to healthcare workers, and the glory of Easter. His talk focused on St. Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1, that we would know the hope of Christ’s calling, the riches of His inheritance, and the surpassing power that is available to us to grow in life and to stand for just causes. The last part of the talk comes from St. Julian of Norwich who believes that we would be changed forever if we could see the joy in Christ’s face and His love for us.
Peter Fitch expressed his view that Palm Sunday is a great reminder of the need for discernment. There is more than one way to think about God and what “the good” might look like. People welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem but turned on Him soon after that. Behind it all are questions about the nature of God. Peter next looks at the story of the leper who wants to know if Jesus is willing to heal him and, after that, he turns to a story about Brother Masseo, one of the original Franciscans, as he discovers that God’s willingness is different, and better, than he could have imagined.
Peter Fitch introduces Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), a genius and polymath whose prophetic wisdom was sought by kings and queens during the 12th century. She is gifted in theology, science, herbal knowledge, medicine, music and art. Her views seem strange to us, however, because they come through her medieval lens and understanding. This leads Peter to ask questions about the illusions we carry today and whether or not we can ever expect to get an understanding of something that hasn’t been tainted by our own worldviews and values. Speculating about this results in a new way of looking at Jesus’ words in Matthew 5: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.”
This Sunday Peter Fitch spoke on the first anniversary of St. Croix Church, the name that we took as we morphed away from our denomination a year ago this weekend. He chose to speak on Revelation 21 and 22, seeing the description of the new Jerusalem as an ancient means of encouragement for people who were undergoing persecution and oppression. As such, it works in a similar way for us. Instead of hopelessness in the face of challenges, we can be confident in the Spirit of God’s Presence, bringing comfort and creativity as we walk through life together, always pushing toward kindness and justice.