This coming Sunday I will be giving the sermon at the United Church in Steinbach. I will be looking at two saints of the church who share a first name- Thomas Aquinas and Thomas More. Thus the title of my talk and this blog post- Thomas Times Two. The reason I’ve chosen that title is because I have to speak the following Sunday in my Winnipeg church and that’s the topic they gave me. I wanted to use the same sermon in both churches. Each Sunday in summer our congregation Bethel Mennonite is looking at the lives of two saints and examining what we can learn from them for our own lives.
I won’t give away too much of my talk just in case you are planning on hearing it at either location, but I will tell you I’ve learned lots of interesting stuff about both Thomas Aquinas and Thomas More as I’ve researched their lives. Like the fact Thomas Aquinas was a gifted musician as well as a famous thinker and writer. And that fact that Thomas More aside from serving as an advisor to King Henry VIII, loved animals and lived with a house full of interesting creatures.
I didn’t know Thomas Aquinas was best friends with Saint Bonaventure or that Thomas More has more than a hundred educational institutions named after him. I also gleaned plenty of good life advice from the two men named Thomas.
I do wish at least one of the saints I had been assigned to speak about was a woman. They are sadly neglected in the church’s catalogue of saints, but I have learned a whole lot as I have studied two men who lived the most interesting of lives, one in Italy and the other in England almost two centuries apart.
More Visible But Not Equal
My Husband and the Pope Are On The Same Page
Sunday Morning Worship with Quakers in Costa Rica
Did you know slavery was legal in Canada til 1834? The ad above was one of many placed in Canadian newspapers by owners looking for their runaway slaves. In the Art Gallery of Ontario ‘s exhibit Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood artists Camille Turner and Camal Pirbhai have tried to restore humanity to these runaway slaves by dressing them up and photographing them in modern day costumes that compare to the 1800s style clothes the slaves are described as wearing in the ads.
This woman is sheathed in a calico gown, holding a silk hankie and wearing a dress hat just like the runaway slave described in the ad. But the black woman in the photograph is free and no one’s slave. Camille Turner and Camal Pirbhai hope portraying the runaway slave this way will make people more aware that slavery was part of Canada’s history.
A Man Affectionately Deplored By His Wife
A Black and White Religion
Before he began his sermon yesterday our pastor led us in a time of prayer for peace and an end to the violence and hatred we had seen splashed across our media in recent days. He referred to the ramped up rhetoric and violent threats that raise the possibility of nuclear war between the United States and North Korea and the hate filled speech and actions on display in Charlottesville. Our pastor prayed for peace and love to characterize the relationships between God’s children. He had a large Bible on a table at the front of our sanctuary open to a Psalm that begins with the words, “How long O Lord?”
A candle given to me after my Mom died. I had it lit as a reminder to pray for peace the day of the American election. I think I need to light it again.
How long will it take before we realize that everyone is a child of God and threatening violence against any one of them is wrong? How long before we realize that things like the color of our skin, our gender, our country of citizenship, our religion or our political beliefs don’t give us the right to feel superior? Before he prayed our pastor lit a lamp placed just beside the Bible open to the psalm with the words……… How long?
Hopeful Families in Korea
That’s How Light Gets In
Inter-Faith Dialogue- A Path to Peace
This is my favorite photo from our family reunion weekend on Pelee Island in Ontario. One night as the sun was setting our children and their cousins made their way down to the lake front to sit by a large inukshuk someone had built. Watching them silhouetted against the sinking sun I got kind of nostalgic and sad. I remembered all the happy times these thirtysomething adults had as kids… playing together, celebrating holidays and having fun on their grandparents’ farm.
Their grandparents have died now, all these cousins have families of their own, and several live in other provinces, so it will be harder and harder to bring everyone together. Our reunion this summer was a whole year in the planning.
Later looking at this photo I thought of how lucky the Driedger cousins were to have been part of a family where they were loved so unconditionally by their grandparents and where aunts and uncles and cousins cared about them and were interested in them. One of the purposes of inukshuks is to act as direction markers so people can find their way. They are like northern compasses. I hope as our children look back on our many family gatherings over the years, they will have a sense that our time together served as a kind of marker or touchstone that helped them navigate through life.
The Path of Life
The Driedger Amazing Race
Name That Driedger
Don’t Breathe, Don’t Drink is the name of this disturbing art work by Ruth Cuthand. I saw it last week at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Ruth says the kind of blue tarp which acts as a table cloth in her art piece was used for the roofs of hastily constructed shacks she saw First Nations people living in after their homes had been condemned because of black mould in the dry wall. The glasses of water on the table contain plastic and beaded representations of the different kinds of bacteria and parasites found in the water on 94 northern reserves that have boil water advisories. Ruth has put some of the bacteria filled water into baby bottles to remind us that children may be drinking this contaminated water too.
I have read a few articles lately about how art can help to bring about social change. I hope Ruth Cuthand’s Don’t Breathe Don’t Drink does just that.
Whale Bone Sculptures
What is the Doctrine of Discovery?