The following sermon was preached at St John’s Cathedral at a service where four people were ordained as deacons and one as a priest.  You can also view a recording of the service here. Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash 


May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable and pleasing in your sight O God, for you are our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

Tonight we are celebrating the feast of Corpus Christi and the ordinations of five lovely people.

Corpus Christi is a feast that invites us to celebrate the gift we received from Jesus on the night of his arrest and betrayal: the eucharist, the bread and wine that are his body and blood.

In our reading from First Corinthians, Paul writes, “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

These are some of the most repeated phrases in our liturgies. Since Jesus first spoke them to his followers, faithful people have been repeating these words and eating and remembering together.

Even in the pandemic when gathering together at tables was not possible, we found ways to remember. We learned, and are continuing to learn, just how important this eating and this remembering are.

It feels so good to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi with you all today – both those gathered in person and those participating online. We are all together the body of Christ.

One of the things that I love about being an Anglican is that we acknowledge that when we gather together at Christ’s table something happens to the bread and wine.

We acknowledge that something happens, but we don’t get too fussy about the details of what that something is. And if you think something different happens than what I think happens, that’s OK too. We are all still invited to eat together.

The bread and wine are changed.  It’s OK if the details remain a mystery.

Today five people will also be changed, and again, we don’t need to get too fussy about the details. Five people will stand up and say vows, be prayed over and blessed, and they will be changed.

And this is a good thing, worthy of a celebration.

Congratulations to all five of you.

Today is the culmination of years of hard work, of struggle, and, although I don’t know all of the details of all of your stories I suspect that it is also the culmination of years of having to learn, over and over and over again, the art of waiting patiently.

But in as much as today is a day about you and the change that today marks in your life, today is also not about you at all and you are not the only ones who are changed.

Just as I can’t celebrate the eucharist by myself, you cannot exercise the ministry God has called you to alone.  You are part of a family, a community, a body. The body of Christ.

And when you change, the body changes too.

The church, the body of Christ will change today.

And this is a good thing, worthy of celebration.

There are so many good things to celebrate today and we should celebrate them fully. But I also want to acknowledge that today five people are entering into ordained ministry at a particularly challenging time in the life of the church.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not over and we have not even begun to fully grapple with the impact of the past few years.  And we probably won’t for quite some time, partly because we are still living in a pandemic, but also because many of us – all of us? – are exhausted.  It’s a lot.

When I see that the Anglican Church is in the news, I hold my breath- Dear God what now?

Because lately, the news hasn’t been about things I can be proud of.

It’s a lot.

When I look at my own yard, I can see the effects of climate change. When I talk to younger people about their futures they often ask, “What future?” or “If I even have a future then…”

It’s a lot.

And when I look at our churches, I see more of them emptying and closing than filling up and expanding.

It’s a lot.

But you know this. You’re not learning all of this for the first time and still you have chosen to commit to life of ordained ministry.

Which means you are weird, weird people indeed.

And I am so grateful for each one of you.

As you move into ordained ministry, if you aren’t already doing these things, I hope you will commit to a deep and rich practice of prayer. I hope you will seek out wise mentors, spiritual directors and therapists to help you walk this journey.

Because pretending you can do this on your own goes against everything Christ was trying to teach us about being his body.

You cannot do this alone, but the good news if you were never meant to do it alone.

It’s also not helpful to pretend you can do this on your own because the church needs to see its leadership modelling healthy behaviours. We need to see leaders who set boundaries, who do not send emails at all hours of the day and night, who take breaks, who have people and things outside of work that bring them joy.

We need our leaders to be human. Fully and completely and utterly human.

There is a deep, deep wisdom in our tradition. There are many wise people who have been walking the path a bit longer than you and it is wise for you to surround yourself with these kinds of people and listen to them.

But know that you are being called to serve a church that looks very different from the churches they have served and you are being called to take the church to places most of them could never have even imagined.

This path is filled with massive challenges, many of which seem insurmountable – aging buildings with far more seats than people, budgets with far more expenses than the offering plate is covering, the effects of the pandemic that is still not over and will continue to impact the church for years and years to come.   Racism, misogyny and homophobia that are still so deeply deeply rooted in the life of this body of Christ.

It’s a lot.

And it doesn’t help anyone to pretend that it’s not a lot.  Your work will require you to have one hand firmly on tradition and one on a walking stick that helps you to blaze new trails.

I know it’s a lot and I never want to pretend that it’s not, but I also want to tell you that I believe you are entering into ordained life at one of the most exciting times in the life of the church.

We have been shaken, we have been shattered, and you can help determine if we solidify back into some version of ourselves that is less than who God calls us to be– mired in fear and scarcity and “we’ve never done it that way thinking” OR if we allow sunlight and nourishment to reach into those cracked places so that new things can grow.

New, exciting, Christ filled ways of being the body together.

A few years ago I could never have imagined holding worship services online and now I can’t imagine services without an online component. I have so many ideas and desires and dreams about what we could do with the things we have learned from those experiences that can help us to strengthen and grow this particular expression of the body of Christ we call the Anglican Church of Canada.

When I reflect on the creativity and vulnerability and sheer grit I have seen in my colleagues over the past few years it energizes me. I hope it energizes you too.

And this is good news for Christ’s body here on earth.

A few years ago, I thought being treated poorly because I am a woman was just something I would have to grin and bear forever if I wanted to serve Christ’s body. But now, I’m just not going to take it anymore. I hope you won’t either. And I hope we will all work to create an even bigger table where everyone knows they are not only welcome, they are wanted.

And this is good news for Christ’s body here on earth.

I am also learning to change and repent of the ways I have caused harm to people of colour, my indigenous siblings, my LGBTQ2SIA siblings. I have felt the freedom that comes from apologizing, and the energy and passion that comes from working to also say to them, “Never again. I will do better.”

And this is good news for Christ’s body here on earth.

We are here today because we all, collectively as Christ’s body, have come to discern that God is calling you into ordained ministry.  What a gift, what a thing for us to celebrate.

I cannot wait to get to know you better, to learn about your passions and unique gifts and the ways that you will be unleashed to serve and strengthen the body of Christ in Rupert’s Land.

Because we are all in this together – everyone of us, clergy and lay people together.  Not one of us can do this or should even want to do this work alone.

And that is good, good news, for Christ’s body here on earth.

In the strong name of the holy and undivided trinity.  Amen.