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From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Dear Friends,

The sun had set, and night was settling in. The crowd, gathered by the gates of High Park, was quiet. There was a stillness that you might expect for such a solemn gathering. People stood very close to one another, leaning in and speaking in hushed tones. Some in the crowd held candles, some held flowers, others cards and posters. There were television cameras and reporters, of course, but they stood at a distance. Somewhere in the middle of this crowd were family members being held by the witness of so many.

We wandered past the gates and followed the line of humanity stretching into the park. We joined the end, and soon others stepped in behind us. We were there to honour the life of 16-year-old Gabriel Magalhaes, who was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack at Keele subway station last Saturday night. We were there to hold vigil with his family and circle of friends. We were there to be present, in this terrible moment, to bring a bit of light, a morsel of hope, a desire to help…

The slight breeze made lighting our candle tricky. You would think after all the years of candlelight services that we would have come better prepared. With each attempt at lighting with a match, our hands cupped and cradled the growing flame as it burrowed into the wax and became stronger. Through the woods you could see the twinkles of light moving down the street toward the station. We were on our way. With movement, of course, and the shifting  breeze, keeping the candle lit became almost impossible. At times we chose just to walk in darkness and silence instead.

While some of the crowd went into Keele Station, most made their way toward a makeshift memorial next to the entrance. The host of candles cast a glow on the faces of onlookers taking in the moment. The quiet continued as people made room for others to see and to leave behind a memento of hope – hope for change in such a terrible moment.

We take with us the fullness of our human condition as we step into the week of weeks. We take our brokenness and hurt, pride and arrogance, gentleness and mercy, loneliness and isolation, hope and strength, want and need. Palms are picked up and laid down. Bread will be broken and wine will be poured. Feet will be washed and the altar will be stripped. The cross will cast a shadow and take a life. Candles will be lit. The tomb will be closed and then…it will be opened.

Come to worship. Come each day. No preparation is necessary. Come as you are. Bear witness to the love that God has for the whole of creation. Bear witness to love changing everything.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto