Dear Friends in Christ,
One of the gifts of summer is that it’s a time when we get to step away from our ordinary routines to claim some time to rest and reflect. Perhaps this summer you will be able to travel, to see family again or just to be in a new place for the first time in 16 months or more. And I have heard from so many people throughout the Diocese how deeply we all need to step back and take time to breathe and refresh.
This summer’s reflections will undoubtedly pull in two directions. Looking back, we remember life in the months of pandemic restrictions, the pivot – making worship work, keeping the community connected, and those innumerable Zoom calls. Then there’s the view ahead, looking towards reopening – in-person worship, programs starting up again – with both great hope but also trepidation. What will it be like? Where is God calling us to next?
We’re living through a strange time of discovery and upheaval. It’s been 16 months of surprises. We’ve made changes we hadn’t imagined and watched these changes have effects we hadn’t foreseen. As we begin to see our way to reopening, it’s time to reflect on these surprises and what they have taught us. What are we grieving? What should we be celebrating? What is God showing us about our future?
You are not alone in this strange time. Neither are we as a diocese alone in looking for inspiration and support. This pandemic has gifted Anglicans from coast to coast to coast with a newfound common experience and a unique opportunity to share our stories, hunches and insights. To do this, our national Anglican Church’s Spiritual Formation for Discipleship Network has developed a short conversation process called “Surprised by the Spirit.”
There’s a downloadable guide that can be used on your own or in small groups. There’s even a guide for kids. Find them with some introductory videos at www.spirit.anglican.ca. The conversation takes about two hours. At the end you are invited to submit your reflections and insights, your “Sparks,” through the same website. These can be in any format you wish – written, a video, poem, drawing or song – however the Spirit inspires you.
“Surprised by the Spirit” will run until the end of September. At Thanksgiving all the Sparks will be revealed and celebrated. I encourage you to join your voice with our siblings across the Canadian church and be part of the wider community shining with God’s light, inspiring God’s future.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto