14 From The Dean’s Pen

December 02, 2018

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
The Advent season is a time of preparation so that our hearts and minds would be focused upon the Second Coming of Christ. This is an often-neglected theme in some parts of the Christian community. Nevertheless, it is integral to the Gospel message and in the preaching of the early Church. For instance, in today’s second reading, it was mentioned in passing. The Apostle Paul prayed for the Thessalonian believers … “may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:13)

The Lord’s ‘coming’ refers to his second coming (Parousia) in glory at the end of time. There was a common belief among the early Christians that Jesus would come again, this time to mark history’s fulfilment and the definitive establishment of God’s Kingdom. This belief was rooted in Jesus’ own words, such as found in today’s Gospel reading (Luke 21:25-36).

In spite of the concerns of the believers through the years, the expectation of the Parousia remained for them and remains for us a real part of the Christian faith. Since we believe that Jesus came in human flesh, we are called to believe that he will come again. In fact, therein rests our present hope; for life with all of its changes and challenges, is moving in a constant direction of fulfilment in Christ.

Meantime, the believers of today must share the hope of the early Christians and be ready for that joyous reunion. If we have that hope, we would appreciate what both Jesus and Paul say about “being ready.”

Yours sincerely,
Dean Jeffrey

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-


November 04, 2018

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

In some sections of the Church, November is observed as Stewardship renewal month; a time to consider the many ways in which God has endowed us and how we could respond to God’s generosity. When we recognize that one hundred percent (100%) of what we have in Talent, Time and Treasure – are God-given, it
is quite natural to ask, ‘how can we repay’?

Some consider the Biblical tithe – ten percent (10%), as a guide.  However, this principle must be animated by the Spirit of the Law rather than being dictated by its letter. In fact, Jesus argued that point in one of his many encounters with the Scribes and Pharisees. He stated,

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe
mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters
of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to
have practised without neglecting the others.” (Matthew
23:23)

In other words, to be guided by the tithe is okay; however, in the walk with God and neighbour, one should not neglect justice, mercy and love which have no limits. The Christian Church has identified seven Spiritual Acts of Mercy by which individuals and congregations could live out their personal ministry and concern for each other. These are to:

  i. Feed the Hungry
 ii. Give Drink to the Thirsty
iii. Clothe the Naked
iv. Harbour the Stranger
 v. Visit the Sick;
vi. Minister to the Prisoners; and
vii. Bury the Dead.

Regrettably, the Church seldom has the financial capacity to minister in such broad terms. November is a good time to look back at one’s financial contribution during the year, and in light of the current economic challenges of the Nation, to commit to the bold initiative of ‘Stewardship as a way of life’. By the grace of God, it can be done!

Yours sincerely,
Dean Jeffrey

—————————————————————————————–

October 07, 2018

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
We as a parish and as a Cathedral Church have just concluded another Patronal Festival. It was a good time to celebrate the achievements of the past year, and all of the ministries and organisations had opportunities to host other groups from across the diocese. The Festival Concert and the Meet-and-Greet sessions added new dimensions to the proceedings, and the Festival Forum in its second edition came off as planned and all services and events were successful.

However, in order to fully give ownership to the festival theme, “A Cathedral Renaissance: New Life, New Power, New Thought”, everyone must get on board and play the role which by virtue of their baptism, they have been empowered to do. In the opinion of many, the Anglican Church in Barbados is at crisis point; the failure to elect a bishop for the Diocese is an indication of that crisis and it points to serious short-comings in the governance of the diocese. The Cathedral, given its pivotal role in the Diocese, cannot ignore what has happened; consequently, it ought also to use the time of crisis to examine opportunities to reclaim its leadership role in the Diocese, The City and Nation. Towards that end, I invite every member to take time out to complete the survey which has been distributed. An analysis of your responses would enable the leadership of the Cathedral to identify some major challenges and to set some immediate, interim and long-term goals. In essence, we should, after the data has been collated and distilled, be able to recognize strengths to build on; areas in our mutual life together that concern us; mission to our communities; and aspirations for the future.

I, therefore, commend this initiative to your careful thought, decisive action, and prayerful consideration.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,… They are new every morning;” (Lamentations 3:22a and 23a).

Yours sincerely,
Dean Jeffrey


September 02, 2018

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthews 7:12) has played an integral role in shaping the lives of many people, through the years. This virtue appeals to a universal bond, which connects us all.

Interestingly, it is featured scripturally and symbolically in Christianity and in at least twelve other religions; it is, also, a base value across cultures and regions. It’s the ultimate moral principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated.

If one is to honour this principle, there is a need to take a few obligations seriously. These obligations would include, the obligation to exercise due care; to be well informed, taking care about knowing and doing before acting; and, that of acting diligently on one’s knowledge. To know well, is only half of acting with due care. The other half is applying that knowledge diligently to all people, with whom one comes into contact.

Perhaps, a lot of the discord, violence and abuse which is experienced today could be overcome, if people would care for each other more and respect the fact that for every right an individual asserts, there is a corresponding duty to the other person. The Golden Rule can still serve in fashioning Christians in their journey and in solidarity with all people.

Yours sincerely,

Dean Jeffrey

——————————————————-

August 05, 2018

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

On the occasion of my 35th anniversary of ordination to the Diaconate on July 25, 2018, the feast of St. James, the Apostle, I reflected on the theme, “Collegiality in Ministry”. It was based upon the intimate association of Jesus and his three disciples Peter, James and John.

Described by some writers as “the inner circle”, they shared with Jesus many significant moments; in particular:

  • In the home of Simon and Andrew when Jesus healed Peter’s mother in law of her fever (Mark 29-31);
  • In the home of Jairus at the raising of his twelve year old daughter (Mark 5: 35-43);
  • On the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8// Mark 9:2-8// Luke 9:28-36); and,
  • In the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26: 36-46).

There has been a tendency to consider this group as being an exclusive one; privilege and highly favoured, ‘a cut above’ the other nine disciples. Beyond that perception, however, it may also demonstrate the importance of collegiality, the building of trust and confidence in order to navigate ‘the highs and lows’ of ministry. Indeed, in the pursuit of any endeavour, and perhaps more so in
any ministry of service, a leader needs to know, feel and experience the love, care and support of colleagues. They can’t wear the same shoes or walk in the same footsteps, but at least they understand and can empathize because they also can tell their own stories.

In reflecting upon my own practice of ministry, I can attest to the role played by my wife and daughters; the wider family circle; brothers and sisters of the clergy; parishioners; and friends. These trusted relationships have served to sustain me through many experiences and have fashioned me for service leadership in the Christian community and beyond.

I take this opportunity to say thanks; and also to invite your prayers and support in the future.

Yours sincerely,
Dean Jeffrey

————————————————————-

July 01, 2018

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

The twin miracles of the healing of a woman with a life-long hemorrhage and the raising of Jairus’ daughter showcase the need for faith at all times, but more especially when medical help seems elusive: Mark 5:21-43.

Jesus felt the touch of the woman in her desperation and he heard the cry of a religious and civil leader in society. In each case, there was a touch; symbolic of Jesus’ desire to overturn the taboos of his era. The touch of a Rabbi by a woman would have been out of order and for a religious leader to touch a dead body, he would have been rendered unclean. Nevertheless, the touch proved to be the means through which the power to heal and to restore was transmitted. To both, Jesus brought life and did so gladly. Obviously physical life was the primary object of Jesus’ concern; however, in the context, the woman’s saving faith also enabled her to claim an even richer life with God.

These scenes served to reassure the faithful of Mark’s community of their hope in the resurrection to eternal life, through Christ.  Through the years, these familiar encounters have also served to  shape the minds of believers in Christ. Perhaps, in our time, they can help to affirm the relationship between medicine and faith; they are not to be seen as opposed to each other.

Meantime, if one enjoys good health, one should be grateful to God and see it as a gift to be treasured. But if there is poor health, there is no need to despair; one can take comfort in the fact that one can reach out and receive God’s gift of wholeness. Let everyone, therefore, work for the joyful celebration of life.

Yours sincerely,
Dean Jeffrey

———————————————————————————————

June 03, 2018

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

In the recently concluded General Election, all the parties, as well as those who offered themselves as independent candidates, indicated their desire to serve the country.

It is against that backdrop that I have penned my message today, and commend to everyone’s consideration, the excellent example of Jesus, the embodiment of service. He challenged his followers to do the same (Mark 10:32-45). Many were impressed with his miraculous deeds; he was celebrated as a great miracle-worker, and some, James and John, even wanted to share in his glory. His own sacrificial service was presented as a model for the brothers and all disciples, “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (10:45).

Personal ambition and patronage did not start with James and John, nor did they end with them. In fact, similar attitudes remain alive and both church and state are exposed to this twin scourge today. However, Jesus calls us to a different ethic. If service is the basis of one’s participation in public life, there is an underlying ethic of surrender and sacrifice; God honours service rather than
power. He challenges us to practice living by Kingdom Rules in this world.

It is the model which the Christian Church and individual Christians need to embrace. It is one which is hereby commended to our newly elected and installed government. I end with the prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Teach us, good Lord,
to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labour and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do your will. Amen.

Yours sincerely,
Dean Jeffrey

——————————————————————————————-

May 06, 2018

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

Much has been said about the election of the 14th Bishop of the Diocese of Barbados, but not much has been said about the role of a Bishop.

In 1988 the Lambeth Conference, a gathering of bishops from the Anglican Communion, usually held every ten years (since 1867) at Lambeth Palace and presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, agreed thus:

The Ministry of Bishops

Within the wider context of the mission and ministry of the whole Church, the diocese is often seen as basic to the life and unity of the local Church. This unity is personified and symbolised in the office of the bishop. Under God, the bishop leads the local church in its mission to the world.

Among other things, the bishop is:
a) A symbol of the Unity of the Church in its mission;
b) A teacher and defender of the faith;
c) A pastor of the pastors and of the laity;
d) An enabler in the preaching of the Word, and in the administration of the Sacraments;
e) A leader in mission and an initiator of outreach to the world surrounding the community of the faithful;
f) A shepherd who nurtures and cares for the flock of God;
g) A physician to whom are brought the wounds of society;
h) A voice of conscience within the society in which the local Church is placed;
i) A prophet who proclaims the justice of God in the context of the Gospel of loving redemption;
j) A head of the family in its wholeness, its misery and its joy.
The bishop is the family’s centre of life and love.”
(Mission and Ministry, paragraph 151, Lambeth Conference 1988)

May we be enlightened by this vision as we seek to discern the will of God in choosing someone to serve this section of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Yours sincerely,
Dean Jeffrey

————————————————————————————————-

March 04, 2018

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

One of the surprising features of the ministry of Jesus was his action in the Temple, when he made a whip of cords, overturned the tables of those who were trading, and drove out the money-changers and spilled their coins all over the pavement. The scene of the cleansing of the Temple has been included in all the Gospels (Matthew 21:12-27; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48; John 21:13-25). It is reasonable to conclude that the evangelists were all convinced that it happened; the Church would have been too embarrassed to have made up this story.

Some have interpreted this action by Jesus in a very revolutionary light and  revolutionary movements in the world have appealed to it to legitimize their own brand of violence. But if they are to use it,the Christian Church would insist that it be used on Jesus’ terms. Only if their zeal is for “the Father’s house,” for the reign of God, can anyone presume to affect radically the lives of others.
Consequently, such zeal would be directed towards winning people for the Kingdom.

The recognition of the divine initiative and the primary goal of restoring relations with the Lord must be central to any liberation movement. The Church, too, must be guided and inspired by the same. In pursuance of its mission, the Church’s activities can degenerate into a number of events which give the impression that something is really going on. Instead, the relationships may be devoid of justice, charity and mercy. If such circumstances exist in today’s Church, perhaps a special divine intervention is needed. Is Jesus’ whip of cords needed in today’s Church?

Yours sincerely,
Dean Jeffrey


My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

Today, the Gospel (Mark 1:29-39) reminds us that evangelization is the means whereby we can keep our identity as Christians. There is a note of compulsion in the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark where the Evangelist uses the word “immediately“ some ten times. In the scene of the cure of Peter’s mother-in-law, it is found twice, though translated differently. Altogether, there is a note of the overwhelming urgency to get the message across, by word as well as by deed.

For Jesus evangelizing meant preaching the presence of God’s reign. Consequently, preaching the gospel came to be most closely identified with evangelization. However, it is not to be restricted to the pulpit; instead, one can say that it simply means each believer bearing witness to a deep faith conviction, in his or her own personal setting. Peter certainly did while enjoying the hospitality of his mother-in-law’s house.

Since the 1990s was observed as The Decade of Evangelism, greater emphasis has been placed on this primary task across the Anglican Communion. A comprehensive understanding of the task of proclaimation has been adopted and this has been captured in the following mission statement:
 To proclaim the good news of the kingdom;
 To teach, baptise, and nurture the new believers;
 To respond to human needs by loving service;
 To seek to transform unjust structures of society; and,
 To strive, to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
(The Anglican Consultative Council, 1990)

As we look towards 2020, a renewed effort to proclaim the good news of God needs to be undertaken in our country by the Anglican Church. The average  person can get involve, just by one’s way of life. The healing, reconcilating and liberating presence of Christ is as much needed now, as it was when it was first experienced in the homes, hills and shores of Galilee. Make yourself available, today.

Yours sincerely,
Dean Jeffrey