Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Developing Congregations"

Here is another video from the Diocese of Toronto. I was the producer for this one, as well, but most of the work was done by Matthew Carter. He shot all of this, edited, and directed it. He got some help from the Congregational Development department, too. This video is really intended for congregations to help them know what resources are available from the Diocese. Good stuff!

This was shot with a Canon XH-1AS... what a camera! It seems to do especially well outside!


More Wedding Photos...

More photos from Jeremy and Carolyn's Wedding...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Streetcar Wedding

This photograph is from a wedding I did a few weeks ago. Most people from Toronto will recognized City Hall in the background. I met the happy couple outside the main entrance shortly after their civil ceremony, and led them in procession with their guests with a giant processional cross to a Streetcar stop on Queen Street. From there we hopped aboard a vintage streetcar that had been chartered to take us to the reception site. While we travelled, I blessed the marriage using the "Blessing of a Civil Marriage" rite. Leading the group of people while wearing full vestments (cassock, surplice, stole, cope) through the streets of Toronto was exhilarating. We got lots of attention from by standards with cameras--all of it positive. The groom and several of the male guests were wearing kilts (mine was hidden under my vestments when the picture was taken), and that just was icing on the cake as far the visual delight of the day goes.

I preached about love on the streetcar--short and sweet--but I could have also preached about intersections. Things have a way of coming together in people's lives, and here we had a heady post-modern mix of civil/religious and public/private happening. How fitting it was to bring all these things together in one shining moment with my friends who live this same tension daily. Because so much of life is dominated by the pastoral persona, I forget how complex that interface can be for people who are faithful, but don't wear their religiosity on their chest the way I do.

When we arrived at the reception site I took off my vestments and spent the rest of the night rocking my new kilt. It's worth a blog entry of it's own, in truth, as it is a garment of epic coolness!


Monday, October 10, 2011


This is the first of three videos that I produced for the Diocese of Toronto. I co-supervised Matthew Carter, an summer intern working as a Diocesan Videographer. Matthew did all the shooting and editing, and I think he did a great job. This first video, "Reach," focuses on a micro-grant programme that provides relatively small grants ($500-$5000) to churches that are looking to try new things to reach new people. Mad props to Matt who did such a great job with this and the other three!

This is part of of my work with FEWG - The "Fresh Expressions Working Group" - a committee of folks reporting to the Archbishop that work to promote new church planting and mission work in the Diocese of Toronto. We decided last spring that we needed to do more to tell the story of the what the Holy Spirit and God's people are doing in Toronto, so we came up with this video project.


Sermon - Harvest Thanksgiving 2011

I preached this sermon for "Harvest Thanksgiving" Sunday. I was pleased with how it turned out. Usually I spend some hours reading some commentaries and engaging the text in a scholarly, post-critical way. But the Gospel lesson for this Sunday, Matthew 6.25-33, just didn't seem to ask for that from me, this time around. I did consider giving a meditation on gratitude, per se, and basically just take delight in cataloguing all the things people should be grateful for, but the real question for me was somewhat deeper. What is the relationship between detachment and gratitude? It would seem that they are somewhat contradictory, and I wanted to explore that.

In preparing for this sermon, I spent a long time puzzling over how to tell the stories that begin the sermon--particularly the first story. I didn't use a text, --that whole section appeared as a mere phrase on the mind map I was using as notes. But I had rehearsed telling the story multiple times and refined the exact language and details I would use. I was pleased with the results. Those of you who preach, I would highly recommend trying this method of honing a story--simply tell it again and again and find those details that ring most poetically. Another key, in my opinion, to good story telling in preaching is to be reading some fiction you find compelling. Right now I'm working my way through A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. If you want to be a better preacher, expose yourself to good narrative.

By the way, the image of the people preparing the funeral pyre by the river was based on my own experience of seeing such a cremation done in Nepal. I sat on a smooth river boulder, soaking my sore feet in the cool water, and watched the funeral rites about two hundred metres away. I was alone, and no one from the village spoke to me, but I found out later that our group's language teachers had asked after me, and that villagers had been moved by my quiet, respectful attention. Just watching, sometimes, is all we need do.