Art has always played an important part in churches throughout the ages, ranging from simple sculptures to Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The Rev. Jim Keenan of Bradford United Church in Bradford, Ontario, recognizes the important intersections between art and religion. “A healthy arts community is integral to the spiritual and overall health of the community and the overall well-being of its residents,” he says.
For one evening every month, Grace United Church in Hanover, Ontario, is filled with the sounds of group drumming. Leading the session is the Rev. Micol Cottrell, who has led similar groups at two other United Churches in the last five years.
For Cottrell, Drum Circle Worship is much more than just making music.
One of my all-time favourite compositions is Edward Elgar’s Op. 36 (popularly known as Enigma Variations). This piece is a love story where each movement is a tribute to one of Elgar’s friends. It is complex, playful, and heartfelt; it rouses my heart, my memory, and my imagination all at the same time. Starting when I was 14, my high-school concert band played an arrangement of the adagio movement, “Nimrod,” all the time as a warm-up piece. Eventually, the constant repetition started to dampen my enthusiasm and love for the music.
Moderator Jordan Cantwell had a busy November. It started with her keynote address at an LBGT conference in Jakarta, Indonesia. She then “chilled” at a youth forum in British Columbia, before heading back to Toronto to take part in difficult discussions during a two-day meeting of the Executive of the General Council. She discussed the importance of these three events with Paul Russell.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night…
As we enter into Advent, we bring to mind the birth of Christ and the mystery of the Incarnation. It’s a time when we become a little more awe-filled with the chaotic, gracious business that is Emmanuel – God-with-us.
I have had a long love affair with Leonard Cohen, or rather, with his words. I furiously read his poems in university; I saw him in concert in 1970, when he came to play in a small indoor hockey rink in Kingston, Ontario; I learned to play “Suzanne” on my guitar, and channelled Cohen’s angst-filled love. I was envious of his time in the Greek Islands, and was determined to do the same, even to the point of taking a year’s worth of evening classes in conversational Greek – but alas, my visit only lasted a couple of months.
Everyone loves a carnival, especially if it is free.
That is exactly what North Bramalea United Church in Brampton, Ontario, has offered to the community every second Saturday in July for the last 16 years. On that day, the Lucas Holtom Carnival Day fills a city park behind the church, with area residents — approximately 5,000 this year — coming out to enjoy the event.
I have run in the intense heat of Ontario summers and the deep cold of Arctic winters, but if I am ever asked about the perfect day for running, what will come to mind is this past weekend in Toronto. Cool but not cold, with the sky deep blue and yellow and orange leaves on the ground and still clinging to tree branches.
On these glorious late fall days, the words from Isaiah 65 in this week’s lectionary passage feel so right.
…. Be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.