A Word From Our Bishop

Between the celebration of All Saints, the commemoration of All Souls and the solemnity that Remembrance Day has become, November is a month where we spend a great deal of time remembering. Whether it is the saints who have been the models of our faith through all of time or the souls of those we love but see no longer – or the remembrance of those who have died to give us the life we have today through their service in the conflicts of the last 120 years – November draws us inward to consider the blessings we have received at the hands of those who have gone before us. 

As a bishop I spend a great deal of time visiting in parishes and nosing about in parish halls. One of my favourite things to do is inspect the line of photos usually put up of all the former rectors of a parish. Often called the “Rogues Gallery”, I have my own place hanging on walls of parish halls back in Ontario. I see in them such faithfulness and commitment to the work of helping the people of the land through all of time. Dusty photographs of Ivor Norris standing proudly with confirmation classes; Or Wilfred Thomas standing by as the members of Synod stand around him. I often think that we are doing our best to honour their work, for in many ways we are their living legacy. 

You might think that what we leave behind when we depart this life is memory (often in the form of photographs) and stone – usually a headstone marking that we lived. Beyond a will and the financial settlements that follow us, the permanent testimonies of our existence on this earth are usually few in number. Unless you count the lives we have the chance to touch. I still tell stories of my grandmother, who died in 1972. I still remember stories about my great- grandfather told me by those who knew him late in his life – and he was born in 1857! 

You and I, while we live now are the living legacy of those who have gone before us. We are the love letter that previous generations have written to the future. This is a beautiful thought and it comes with a large dose of a sense of responsibility in that we are in the process of writing our own letter to the future. We are the people that others will one day tell stories about. We are making, right now, the memories that will be treasured – or worried over for generations to follow. 

The Diocese of Brandon is a place where we are learning to love and transform our lives into the Christ-like persons we are meant to be. We are proclaiming a gospel that is life-giving, and, reconciling us with the traumas and broken hearts of the past – this gospel is calling us to be brave about moving into the future to which God has created. The photographs on the wall, or the headstones with names we love are the remnants of the lives and loves who were once transformed and now rest with the Father in heaven. 

Be mindful as you spend time with the little ones, or the youth as you speak of your faith. It is our responsibility to pass on to them what was handed to us by those who taught us to pray. Be the love letter your ancestors wrote, and become yourself the message to the future upon which the next generations can rely. Be more than stone, and more than photograph. Be the loving arms which someone will remember long after you are gone. Be the heart of faith that others will teach long after your own heart is with God. 


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