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Showing posts from 2017

A Short Sermon for the Feast of St. Francis

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My sisters and brothers in Christ, these pass few days we have heard about many tragedies that have occurred in the world and with in our own city: acts that are so senseless that our communities are often left in suspicion of each other.  It is during these times, we need to look at the heroes of our faith in order to learn how to handle such devastation. And today we commemorate and learn from such a hero in St Francis of Assisi. A man whose remarkable life is celebrated by how he embraced poverty to become closer with God in Jesus; he was renowned for his preaching and knowledge of holy scriptures; and, of course, his love for creation and animals—we are reminded of the latter as our furry friends are blessed today.  But, dare I say, S. Francis’s greatest gift is often overlooked, his ability to broker God’s peace during an extraordinary war. St. Francis’ world was filled with uncertainty and violence.  He was a former war veteran in his youth and he was a prisoner of that war.  He s…

Fundraiser for Men's Spiritual Wellness Retreat

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Fundraiser – Men’s Spiritual Wellness Retreat – Fundraiser Living Life on Life’s Terms
As the ministry of ICPM flourishes within the inner city community a special direction is taken to support more fully men in their spiritual journeys.  Month by month 15 – 20 men gather for fellowship, share the struggles and joys of their life journeys, and  explore together the strengthening aspects of the practice of spirituality when applied to one’s personal life.
The culmination of this year-long activity is the annual retreat held at the Star of the North Retreat Centre, St Albert.  The reflections offered at the retreat echo the archetypical themes of a life journey, and envision the movement across thresholds of change, change that in many cases is more desirable due to the lived experience of the chaos and loss created by addiction and addictive behaviours.  As the Men Spiritual Wellness Group meets, the challenge is to continue, with God’s help, to move through the doorways of healing and …

Great to be sick at home, when you have a home

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This week I have nothing exciting to blog about as I was down for the count.  Knocked out by a flu and allergies, I had met my match and waved the white flag.  As I was throwing back the Neo-citron chasers, and watching Netflix on my laptop, I realized that I was very blessed and lucky to have four walls around me, a roof over my head, and heat and electricity to keep me warm and in the lap of luxury until my temporary illness faded off into the sunset.  It is nice to have a home to be sick in and the technology to have pizza delivered to my door while I type these thoughts out to you.
For many who I serve at Inner City Pastoral Ministries, the same can not be said.  I have many people who suffer way worse illnesses in places unfit to live in or they are homeless.  Struggling to find warmth on the street outside in -20 to -30 weather is absurd when healthy, but to hide away in the tunnels of the LRT while sleeping on cold concrete while the body aches for comfort and warmth, is a stru…

Building New Relationships by Giving Up Stuff

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Stop being a hoarder!  Guess what I am giving for lent.  Yes, we are all in that time of year where people give up things they love for lent.  A practice to create a spirit of penance, and focus on God, you know the things that matter.  In recent years, people will give up on the exercise of fasting, and giving up their beloved items for lent because often it makes them unbearable human beings which in turn can be anti-gospel.  Years I ago I decided to give up on "giving up" for lent.

Yet, this year I decided to take up the practice again.  Why?  As you can guess, working in the inner city I see my share of people who need the stuff I don't use.  So my wife and I realized that over the past year we have been collecting, and collecting stuff given to us.  In fact, we don't know what to do with it.  It becomes a contentious debate sometimes and this stuff often becomes a distraction from our daily focus of prayer, life, and family.
So for the forty days of fasting, pe…

Safe Injection Sites and the Gospel of Harm Reduction

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I guess it is not surprising that I would weigh in on the controversial project of the proposed safe injection sites in Edmonton.  The response from people is a mixed bag of apples of course.  Health care workers and even the Edmonton Police Service know and believe this could work and be successful.  Then there are the living room critics who have shared some of the most inhumane comments I have read in various news articles.  Clearly, as a people and a nation we are losing compassion for our brothers and sisters in God.  Therefore, I suggest the Gospel of Harm Reduction as a means to understanding the issue.

The Gospel of Harm Reduction is similar to that of the four Gospels in that forgiveness, reconciliation and love are at the centre of helping people who are hopeless (Matt. 18:21-22).  The light in Gospel of Harm Reduction is not just about a safe place to inject and enabling, rather, it is about medical professionals, social workers and addiction counsellors who make themselves…

End Poverty: It will take effort and self awareness

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On Wednesday I went to the End Poverty meeting at the Mustard Seed.  Since I minister to the impoverished, homeless and addicted, I felt it necessary to be more informed about the city's strategy and the barriers that may inhibit success of this plan.

First, there are some staggering facts that people in Edmonton and the rest Canada are going to have to face. One is that poverty is on the rise.  One out of eight people in Edmonton live in poverty (that is below the poverty line)!  There is less affordable housing options available with property values increasing 11 percent in one year!  This market, obviously, is bringing in investors into poorer neighbourhoods to build new housing with the intent of making the highest profit possible.

The cost of living is going up rapidly, wages stay stagnant, and new people are starting to enter the poverty world that I work in.  The demographic is changing and End Poverty Edmonton is doing its part to get secure funding for new affordable hou…

Broken Homes and Broken Bones

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For those who do not know, I live close to the inner city.  Even my neighbourhood is considered low income, despite all the re-gentrification that has happened in the past ten years.  As I walk to work, one can not help but notice all the abandoned houses due to fires or closures by the health board.  My neighbourhood is littered with them and so is the McCauley area.  Boarded up to prevent squatters, these places tend to just sit there and take up space for years, the landlords just leave the lots as they are or empty.

I can not help but to make an analogy of these broken homes with some people that I serve, those whose spirits and bones have been broken.  You encounter people like this coming from all walks of life and from all cultural and economic circumstances.

When really wounded there is always that "danger keep out" sign in front of them.  Boarded up to protect what shell of a house remains.  As sad as this analogy may seem, there is hope for the human spirit.

All …

My Sermon from Last Sunday

My dear friends in Christ, we continue with the Sermon on the Mount.  To remind us what we have learned thus far let us have brief review of the past Sundays.   Jesus has called us “Repent” that is to be awakened from the slumber of complacency of simply just following God’s rules.  We are called to engage God’s laws in such a way that these laws deepen our relationship with Jesus and the world.  We have heard the great beatitudes.  Blessings that calls us to be open to a new way of living and to receive the light of life that the laws of God permeate.  The beatitudes asks us to do nothing more but to engage the world as humble peacemakers, and honest witnesses to Jesus love for us and the world.  In today’s gospel, Jesus continues his sermon by addressing the Laws of God and how they were misinterpreted or misunderstood.             Each Law addresses a theme: murder, adultery, divorce, and taking oaths in God’s name.  These actions break apart communities, divides families and leaves…

Welcome

Well this is my first blog in years.  To catch everyone up, I used to write a blog called God's Geste.  I have disbanded that blog quite some time ago.  Recently, I have been inspired again to share meditations, reflections, and sermons about my personal faith journey of working and living in the inner city of Edmonton.  As a pastoral associate in the inner city, I hear of people's struggles, pains, sufferings, successes, joy and beauty.  These themes are the inspiration for my reflections.  Thank you for taking the time read this.

Peace and God's Joy,

Billy