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Current Offerings

Telling the Story 2016 - 2017
Mindfulness and Care of the Soul
Redeemer Readers 2016-2017

Telling the Story 2016-2017

What is this recurring event about?

Telling the Story is a series of informal evenings devoted to increasing our biblical literacy.  The aim of the series is to explore the biblical texts in a way which will engage the intellect and the heart of the listeners.

Each Telling the Story evening begins at 7 PM.  Tea and squares are offered to participants for a nominal donation.  Between 7 and 8:45 PM we explore the evening’s theme through music, readings, reflections and informal discussion.

The reader begins the evening with the first of the biblical passages selected.  Over the course of our time together, the readings continue, interspersed with reflections from the presenter, and musical selections that are appropriate to the message of the texts.

Who should attend?

The evening is designed to appeal to adult learners who are curious about the themes in the biblical texts.

2016-17 Series Theme

Sep 13 Genesis:  The Descent to Egypt
    Presenter:  Abigail Young
    Storyteller:  Jean Bubba
    Musician:  Michelle Rumball
Torah Fragment
Oct 11 Exodus I:  The Escape from Egypt
    Presenter:  Megan Jull
    Storyteller:  Martha Davis
    Musician:  Michelle Rumball
Nov 14 An Evening with Rabbi Elyse Goldstein:  Our Shared Sacred Story from a Jewish Perspective
    Presenter:  Elyse Goldstein, Rabbi at City Shul
    Musician:  Michelle Rumball
Jan 10 Numbers:  the Desert Journey from Egypt
    Presenter:  Judith Newman
    Musician:  Michelle Rumball
Feb 21 Deuteronomy:  On the Brink of the Promised Land
    Presenter:  Chris Jones
    Musician:  Michelle Rumball

We want to keep the focus on these history narratives that are foundational for both Judaism and Christianity, letting the narratives speak for themselves, what they meant in the times they were written, and how they inspired and were used by later writers of Scripture.

It helps the committee plan seating and resources if all who plan to attend take a moment to sign up. Registration is available online for the November 14 session, or you can call the church office at 416-922-4948.

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Mindfulness and Care of the Soul - Saturday, November 19, SSJD Convent

Come and treat your body, mind and soul to a day of Mindfulness Practices, to help embed these simple effective transformative tools into your daily habits for well-being and self-care.  Suitable for all – from seasoned practitioners to complete beginners.  Core mainstream Mindfulness Practices of Sitting and Walking Meditation, Body Scan, Simple Chi Mindful Movement, Awe and Gratitude Awareness, Savouring Walk, Mindful Eating, Gentle Appreciative Inquiry and Group Sharing.

Our venue is the beautiful and peaceful Convent and Gardens of the Sisters of St John the Divine (SSJD), a monastic community within the Canadian Anglican Church, who offer a welcome to all.  Come and draw what you need from this day’s mix of modern mindfulness science with an age-old monastic spirit of gentle hospitality, rich silence, stillness, spaciousness, and rest for the soul -- perfect for a day of quiet reflective exploration and enjoyment, and for replenishing and reinforcing a good work/rest/life balance.  Re-connect with the wonders of yourself, of Nature, and of the world all around you.

The day starts at 9:30 AM with welcome Coffee/Tea and Muffins, and includes a hot sit-down lunch (silent mindful eating) served in the Convent Refectory.  The program ends by around 3:30 PM, after our communal mindful walk of the garden Labyrinth accompanied by soft contemplative live music, with another Coffee/Tea Break available as you leave.  Sitting meditation will be on chairs.  You may bring your own cushion or mat if you wish to sit on the floor.  There will be periods of mindful walking indoors and out, rain or shine.  (Please note that the Convent is scent-free, no commercial water bottles are allowed, and you should bring dry indoor shoes if the weather is messy outdoors.  There is convenient TTC access, and free parking on site.  Map and Directions at http://www.ssjd.ca/contact.html.)

Grass and Tree

Leadership for this day is offered by Lucy Burke, who has trained extensively in Mindfulness and Meditation Practice, along with other contemplative disciplines, over many years.  The day’s curriculum will draw particularly on Lucy’s work with Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn (Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society http://www.umassmed.edu/cfm), Dr. Mark Williams (Oxford University Mindfulness Centre http://www.oxfordmindfulness.org), and

Dr. Christopher Germer (http://www.mindfulselfcompassion.org) as well as on inspiring contributions from the world’s wisdom and creativity through the ages.  Lucy has an undergraduate degree in Modern Languages and Literature, three graduate degrees in Theology, Education, and Economics, and over 30 years experience leading, teaching, analyzing, integrating and advising, in a variety of church, community and corporate settings, from classroom to boardroom.  Lucy is also a trained Spiritual Director, Adult Educator and Facilitator, and an Associate of the Sisters of St John the Divine.

There is a $40 all-inclusive registration fee for this program, which covers the SSJD Convent’s standard per person facility cost for a retreat day.  Lucy’s leadership is being provided free of charge.  Please register online.  For further information contact Lucy Burke at MindfulMoments365@gmail.com.

“… At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless. Neither from nor towards; there the dance is … We must be still, and still moving into another intensity, for a further union, a deeper communion … We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring, will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time … Quick now, here, now, always -- A condition of complete simplicity, Costing not less than everything … And all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well … “ (Thomas Stearns Eliot, Anglican layman, poet, Nobel Laureate.)

“The world is charged with the grandeur of God, it will flame out like shining … There lives the dearest freshness deep down things …

My own heart let me have more pity on; let me live to my sad self hereafter kind, charitable … call off thoughts awhile elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size at God knows when, to God knows what … “ (Gerard Manley Hopkins S.J., Jesuit priest and celebrated poet.)

“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” (Mary Oliver, Pulitzer Prize poet, friend of Episcopalian monastics.)

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Redeemer Readers 2016-2017

Redeemer Readers is Church of the Redeemer's Book Club.  The group meets at noon for one hour on five Thursdays from October to May.  New members are always welcome, even those who can't make all five meetings.  Some suggestions for availability and pricing of this year's books are included.  Prices indicated here are correct at time of writing.  Readers can, of course, pursue other options.  If new members are interested in attending any or all of the discussions, or want more information, please contact Pauline Thompson at pauline.thompson@utoronto.ca

The Costs and Complexities of Compassion: Themes of Justice, Mercy and Grace

What role does compassion have in our lives and in the institutions of justice in our country?  How central should it be in our everyday lives?  What do religions have to say?  What, specifically, does Christianity have to say?

The need to see justice done, on the one hand, and to seek revenge and punishment, on the other, seem to be basic human instincts.  What is the difference between justice and revenge?  Should all crimes and misdemeanors be punished?  Where do compassion, pardon and mercy come in?

The legacy of the “Tough on Crime” agenda of recent governments in several western countries, including Canada, has given one answer to these questions:  promote minimum sentences, expand prisons, double and triple bunk inmates, eliminate recreational and job-training programs, etc.  The emphasis here is on punishment.  Should this be the chief aim of a country’s justice system?  How is the idea of rehabilitation linked to mercy?  How can we truly achieve a “just society”?  Is “compassionate conservatism” an oxymoron?

At the individual level, we need to think about what we can do to transform our own psyches.  How do we apply the principle of loving our neighbours as ourselves in such a way as to have an impact on ourselves, our families, friends, neighbourhoods, cities, provinces and country?

Deliverance to the Captives Book Jacket
October 20, 2016

Karl Barth.  Deliverance to the Captives

(Wipf and Stock, repr. 2010), 160 pp.  Available from Amazon.ca, $26.25; from Crux Books, $34.99 special order.

These sermons were preached by Barth between August 1954 and June 1959 to prisoners in the Basel prison in Switzerland.  It was Barth’s view that, although the people he was preaching to were imprisoned for crimes they had committed, we all live in prisons of one sort or another, and are all in need of the deliverance that Jesus said he had come to bring.  They are simple, straightforward, and yet profoundly compassionate.

Just Mercy Book Jacket
December 8, 2016

Bryan Stevenson.  Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

(Spiegl and Bray, 2014), 352 pp.  Available from Indigo Books on line ($18.69), Amazon.ca ($18.32), on Kindle, Kobo and in stores.

Bryan Stevenson is the grandson of slaves, a Harvard-educated lawyer with a strong Christian heritage, who has written a remarkable book about his work in the American south.  Last year a number of American colleges and universities required their incoming freshmen to read this book before they began their studies.  It deals not only with the problems associated with the death penalty, but with the legacies of racism and poverty that afflict American society to this day.  It is about the potential for mercy to redeem us.  This book was the winner of the Carnegie Medal for non-fiction, and many other awards.

We will also take a look at two short pieces.  Copies of these will be provided.

  • Yanan Wang: “Judge goes to jail with convict” (Washington Post)
  • Seamus Heaney: “Punishment” (a poem, in North, 1975, in Selected Poems 1966-1996)
Truth and Reconciliation Report
February 9, 2017

Selections from the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
Volume One - Summary: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future

Ca. 500 pp.  Available from Indigo on line ($16.84) and in stores.

This report is a result of a six-year investigation into the residential school system for aboriginal youth.  It tells of the history of the schools and their legacy and gives 94 recommendations for action.  This history is not well known in Canada outside the aboriginal community.  All of us need to understand what happened and gain some understanding of what true reconciliation might entail.

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life Book Jacket
March 30, 2017

Karen Armstrong.  Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life (2011).

Available from Amazon.ca ($14.47) and Indigo Books ($14.62 pb., and Kobo $14.00).

This book is a call to restore compassion to the centre of religion and morality, and to develop empathy with the sufferings of all human beings – even to love our enemies.  There is an exploration of all the great religions, including Christianity, and what they have to say about the centrality of compassion.  The book also has a lot of practical suggestions about how we might become more adept at living together in harmony.

Good to a Fault Book Jacket
May 18, 2017

Marina Endicott.  Good to a Fault.

Repr. 2013 by Anchor Books.  388 pp.  Available from Indigo Books ($15.56 pb., $14 Kobo),  Amazon ($15.40).

This is a story of how a single moment of distracted driving led Clara Purdy into the mess of another family’s life, about how she tried to help and what that helping cost her.  This novel won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.  (Endicott is the sister of a former Redeemer parishioner, Timothy Endicott, Professor of Legal Philosophy in the University of Oxford.)

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