A Dietrich Bonhoeffer Hymn for New Year’s — Art & Theology

Thinking of the jailed human rights activists and journalists, detained migrants, prisoners of war, and ordinary people held in filtration camps and torture chambers – a poignant prayer penned by Dietrich Bonhoeffer for the beginning of the New Year 2023. Thank-you Victoria Emily Jones for your blog “Art and Theology” and for this post.

The German theologian and Nazi resister Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote the poem “Von guten Mächten” (By Gracious Powers), his last theological work, in December 1944 while he was imprisoned in a basement cell at the Reich Security Main Office on Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse in Berlin. He sent it in a letter to his fiancée, Maria von Wedemeyer, with […]

A Dietrich Bonhoeffer Hymn for New Year’s — Art & Theology

Open letter to Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Adrian Dix

Together with 36 ecumenical leaders, I have signed a letter in support of the important work being done in our province to keep everyone safe.

23 December, 2020

Dear Dr. Henry & Minister Dix,

We are faith leaders from across British Columbia and from multiple denominations within the province. We wanted to publicly reach out to show our deep respect and appreciation for you, your staff and all those in leadership in this most challenging time. We fully support the work you have done throughout 2020 and appreciate your calm, considerate guidance and wisdom as you work to keep us all safe.

As faith leaders we have worked hard to keep our communities safe and connected in many imaginative ways. Some of us have remained online throughout this pandemic while others have followed clearly laid out protocols for in-person worship gatherings and events in the summer and early fall. Each of us, along with our leadership, has prayerfully made decisions that we felt best cared for our congregations. Throughout all of these decisions it has been incredibly helpful to have strong guidance from the provincial health officer, the BC CDC and the provincial government. None of us have served in ministry through a global pandemic before and we look to experts to help us through these times. Your work has been invaluable to us.

We have been deeply disappointed in the multiple times that the voices of a particular group of faith leaders have been spotlighted and amplified publicly criticizing your work and your mandates. As you are already aware, those voices do not speak for all of us. We want to publicly reiterate our gratitude and support for your work.

We are deeply grateful that you have, from the beginning, taken time to be in conversation with faith leaders and have spoken publicly many times in support of the work we are doing. We are looking forward to working with Dr. Robert Daum to continue those conversations.

Thank you for your hard work. We continue to hold each of you, your staff, our government, BC’s front line workers and all impacted by COVID-19 in our prayers.

In peace and gratitude,

Rev. Aneeta Saroop, Pastor – Spirit of Life Lutheran Church, Vancouver

Rev. Kristen Steele, Pastor – Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Langley

Rev. Dr. Gregory Mohr, Bishop – BC Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Rev. Vida Jaugelis, Interim Pastor – Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, District of North Vancouver

Rev. Kathy Martin, Assistant to the Bishop, BC Synod, ELCIC

Andrew Stephens-Rennie, Missioner – Valhalla Parish (comprising St. Stephen’s Anglican Church New Denver and St. David’sAnglican Church, Castlegar)

Rev. Kelly Duncan, Rector – Parish of St George, Fort Langley

Rev. David Taylor, Rector – St Dunstan’s Anglican Church, Aldergrove

Rev. Lyndon Sayers, Pastor – Lutheran Church of the Cross, Victoria

Rev Andrew Halladay, Vicar – St Andrew’s Anglican Church, Langley

Rev Brenda Nestegaard Paul, Pastor – Trinity Anglican + Lutheran Church, Port Alberni

Reverend Brian J. Heinrich, Vicar – Saints Aidan & Bartholomew Anglican Parish, Gibsons

Rev. Erik Bjorgan, Pastor – Deo Lutheran Church, Salmon Arm

Rev. Curtis Aguirre, Pastor – Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Penticton

Rev. Terry Richardson, Pastor – Hope Lutheran Church, Nanaimo

Rev. Diana Edis, Pastor – St. Paul’s Lutheran, Prince Rupert

Rev. David Hunter, Pastor – Peace Lutheran Congregation, Vernon

Rev. Jennifer Wilson, Pastor – Trinity Lutheran Church, Delta

Rev. Matthew Senf, Interim Pastor – Oakridge Lutheran Church, Vancouver

Rev. Katrina Vigen, Pastor – Redeemer Lutheran Church, Vancouver

Rev. Patricia Giannelia, Pastor – Christ Lutheran Church, Kelowna

Rev. Carolina Glauster, Pastor – Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, North Vancouver

Rev. John Caswell Boyd, Pastor – St. George’s Anglican Parish, Kamloops

Rev. Eric Krushel, Pastor – Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Coquitlam

Rev. Christoph Reiners, Pastor – Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Richmond

Rev. Peter Hanson, Pastor – Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Surrey

Rev. Lyle McKenzie, Pastor – Lutheran Church of the Cross, Victoria

Rev. Thomas Keeley, Pastor – Dunbar Lutheran, Vancouver, and Benediction Lutheran, Delta

Rev. Fleming Blishen, Pastor – Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, Prince George

Rev. Patrick Blaney, Regional Dean of North Vancouver and Rector of St. John’s Anglican Church, North Vancouver

Rev. Marlys Moen, Pastor – Mount Zion Lutheran Church, New Westminster

Rev. Jane Gingrich, Pastor – Hills of Peace Lutheran Church, Kamloops

Rev. Roland Ziprick, Pastor – St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Maple Ridge

The Rev. Peggy Trendell-Jensen, Deacon – St. Clement’s Anglican Church, North Vancouver

Rev. Hardo Ermisch, Pastor – St. Marks Lutheran, Vancouver

Rev. Brian Krushel, Pastor – Faith Lutheran Church, Kelowna

Rev Robin Jacobson, Minister – Trinity United Church, Vernon

The Rev Canon Chris Harwood-Jones – All Saints Anglican Church, Vernon

Photo by Daniel Andrade on Unsplash


Christmas Eve at Gloria Dei

When the worship committee at the church I serve met in November to plan Christmas services, knowing that we would probably need to go to an online format, one of the members suggested a shorter more intimate service, rather than offering the hour long traditional service. Taking this as a cue, as well as integrating a small virtual choir, initiated by one of my pastor colleagues, resulted in this abbreviated Christmas Eve service for our pandemic times and circumstances.


John Collier’s Image of the Annunciation

The Annunciation and the Visitation

Mary is portrayed in the hands of John Collier much like a girl of the 21st century would be seen as she comes back from school. In her hands is the book of Isaiah saying that “a virgin would conceive and bear a son.” Around here are also the traditional symbols for Mary: Lilies representing her purity, a black window representative of her virginity, and a dove waiting on a nearby house as the Holy Spirit waiting for her. As Henry Ossawa Tanner illustrated, John Collier also paints Mary’s face in astonishment at the spectacle before her. She also looks much younger, a fact most painters don’t seem to capture when replicating the Annunciation scene. The below video is from John Collier himself speaking of the painting, how it was made, and how it was received.

View original post


Christ Comes Uninvited

While researching about the Annunciation and thinking about the #Adventword for Dec. 19 – “turn” I found this post by Andrew Staron featuring a poem by Thomas Merton.

“In the silence, in the stillness turn. Pause, listen. What do you hear?” ~ Miriam McKenney

Daily Theology

SC171946 Luc-Olivier Merson, “Rest on the Flight into Egypt” (1879), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

While being interviewed by Krista Tippett for the On Being podcast, actor and activist Martin Sheen shared his favorite passage from Trappist monk and author Thomas Merton… words that I’ve not been able to get out of my head since I first listened. I share them with the Daily Theology community so they might serve as a spark for prayer and reflection during this holy season.

Into this world, this demented inn, 

in which there is absolutely no room for Him at all, 

Christ has come uninvited. 

But because He cannot be at home in it, 

because He is out of place in it, and yet he must be in it, 

His place is with those others for whom there is no room. 

His place is with those who do not belong, 

who are rejected by…

View original post 61 more words


Prayers for Peace and Healing

I am grateful to my colleague in Nova Scotia, Rev. Rick Pryce of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada for this simple prayer service following the horrendous and senseless tragedy in Portapique.

Rick Pryce

In the wake of the horrendous mass killing which we saw in Portapique and the surrounding area in Nova Scotia yesterday, the following prayers are offered.

Light a candle.  Take some time.  Be honest about your feelings, whatever they are.

And let us work for peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, peace in our land, and peace in our world.

For a text version, click here.  Prayers for Peace and Healing.

For a video version, click below.

View original post


Warmed by the Sun, Tutored by the Songhees

I have not written a post in a very long time. Commitments to my family and church have occupied me full-time so that A Sparrow’s Cry has had to lie dormant.

But I am away from my day-to-day responsibilities for a few days and want to share with you about some learning I am engaged in.


I want to make a beginning in learning about Canada’s Indigenous people–their history, culture and issues they face–and I want to learn it from their perspective and not through the western lens I was taught in school.

Why am I doing this? Because education is the first step in Reconciliation.

I am taking a MOOC through the University of Alberta – “Indigenous Canada” which I learned about when reading, “Building Trust Before Truth: How Non-Indigenous Canadians Become Allies” by Robyn Ward.

I am also learning a lot by taking the #Next150 challenges.

My favourite one so far is the “On Whose Land” challenge. It asks,

“Do you know on whose traditional territory you live?

Have you ever been traveling in Canada and wondered which Nations call that region home?”

I was at Beacon Hill – in Victoria, BC enjoying a glorious evening with family and came across a marker identifying the site as having cultural significance to the Lekwungen people, known today as the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations. The marker is a bronze casting of an original cedar carving, conceptualized and carved by Master carver and Songhees First Nation Elder, Clarence “Butch” Dick and depicts a spindle whorl, a tool traditionally used by Coast Salish women to spin wool.

Lekwungen Marker

Lekwungen Marker detail

Is the Coast Salish Wool dog depicted here?

Mekwungen Marker 2

The Lekwungen called this hill MEE-qan or warmed by the sun. At the bottom of the hill was a small, palisaded village that was occupied intermittently from the 11th to 18th century.

Lekwungen Info Plaque

You can learn more about the harvesting and cooking of the bulbs of the Camas lily here and here. And UVic’s Martlet has a lovely write up about the first time a Songhees-led pit cook was done on a Parks Canada National Historic site.

In your travels this summer what have you discovered about the First Nations, Inuit or Métis people that were there or still live in the region you visited?


Brother Sun, Sister Moon – Teach us!

Some say that awe-inspiring sights like solar eclipses encourage empathy and generosity and group cohesion. I don’t know if today’s eclipse, which will be viewed by millions, can bring about more peace and cooperation in our increasingly fractious world, but it is worth praying for:

Brother Sun, Sister Moon,

as millions of people turn their attention to the solar eclipse today,

may your cosmic dance inspire not only awe and wonder,

but also teach us humility about our place in the universe

and encourage us to pursue peace and cooperation with one another

for the sake of our fragile planet home.


[NASA photo; in the public domain]


Prayer during BC Wildfires


We pray for all those whose lives have been disrupted by the wildfires raging throughout our province. We pray for those on the move, and for those still in their homes, cutoff from electric power–their bags packed, with their cell phones batteries quickly depleting, and waiting for the evacuation order.

We pray for those who are fighting the fires with their shovels and hoses, for those who pilot the aircraft dumping water on the fires, those who give directions and escort people to safety, and those who water roofs and save houses.

We pray for those who have lost homes and photographs, treasures and pets.

We pray for those who do not know if their houses remain, and those who wait without hearing any news at all.

May your courage be with those fighting the fire…may your comfort be with all those who are hurting…


adapted from“Service of Worship During the Firestorm,” by Rev. Mark Wiley 

(photo in public domain)



Blessed are the lawyer flash mobs

We live in world where where the most powerful nation on earth elected a man who succeeded and rose to the top at the expense of others…who deplores and despises the very people  Christians are called upon to give special place and favor.

To show just how anti-Christian Donald Trump is, Michael Stark juxtaposes Jesus’ beatitudes and real quotes from Donald Trump.

Jesus said, Blessed are the meek…                                                                                                              

Trump said “My life has been about winning.  When people wrong you, go after those people, because it is a good feeling. I always get even. My life has not been about losing.”

Jesus said, Blessed are those who are persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.              

Trump said,  “I’m putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win..they’re going back.” And he made good on his promise by signing an executive order banning all refugees from that war ravaged land.

But the focus of Jesus’ ministry is not not the King Herods of this world…

God chooses to be on the side of the weak, the forgotten, the despised, and the justice seekers pleading their case–like the “Lawyer flash mobs” at airports trying to get the unknown number of visa and green-card holders being unlawfully detained at airports released.


I like to imagine that if Jesus were to update his Sermon on the Mount with  Some Modern Beatitudes, he would say…

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 

….blessed are the volunteer lawyers who are working pro-bono preparing habeas corpus petitions for detainees at American airports and the thousands of men and women who inspired by their  better angels got in their cars  or hopped on a train and rallied and stood outside and shouted “Let them in!” Blessed are the journalists who search for the truth and write it and help the public separate fact from fiction. Blessed are the artists and poets and actors throughout the world who are arrested and jailed for speaking truth to power.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

You can follow the volunteer airport lawyers on twitter by subscribing to this list . You can search for the hashtag #helpthelawyers .

Also, you can read a lovely first person account, “My Day Volunteering with @OrdLawyersHQ” 

And then there are the refugee detainees right here in our own city…

Blessed are the forgotten ones hungering and thirsting for justice…the asylum seekers held in detention in the basement of the Vancouver Airport–where neither visitors or lawyers are permitted entry…which immigration lawyer Phil Rankin called “the most isolated place in Canada.”