Bottling up on Blog Action Day 2010: Water

Today, bloggers around the world, in over 100 countries, are spreading the word about the right to clean water.

For a few years now, I have done my best to avoid drinking bottled water. We have been convinced that bottled water guarantees that we will have safe, clean, tastier drinking water. In North America, that is a myth. And so, we take clean water from natural sources around the world, even in places where clean water IS at a premium, so that we can have a convenient plastic bottle of water to dispose of. Watch this video by Annie Leonard in the Story of Stuff series to learn about the environmental and economic impact of bottled water.

When I lived in India, the price of bottled water was regulated by the government for pennies a litre. Still, the minimal cost was still profitable because so many Indians drink it. In many other countries, pop is cheaper than water. Meanwhile, their natural water sources are being polluted by our outsourced industries and littered with our plastic bottles! So guess what happens? Bottled water becomes their only option, but only because of the bottled water industry!

I am not naive enough to think that if I boycott bottled water then companies will stop producing it. I carry my thermal water bottle when I drive and travel (and ask for refills) to remind others that we are privileged to live in a country where we do not need to worry about the state of our water. When our public drinking water is compromised, it is due to irresponsible industrial practices, and not the natural state of water. And so why should I give more profits to the industrial system that is responsible for harming our public water sources when it is compromised?

I have also worked with the Disaster Response Team of the Red Cross and have been grateful for the availability of bottled water for victims of natural disaster. Let’s keep bottled water as an emergency source, not a norm.

To celebrate Blog Action Day, this FANTASTIC piece by Lewis Black about the silliness of bottled water in North America as only Lewis Black can express.. Profanity warning. Enjoy.

Other posts today

Today bloggers are uniting to start a global dialogue about clean drinking water. Here are some from my blogger friends:

PWRDF blog: Happy Blog Action Day!

Elena_SC: Water footprint: How the fashion industry and your shopping impact the Planet

GreenBE’s blog: Hoy es el dia de accion del blog 2010 (with a cool short video in English about Blog Action Day)

Great Arquitect’s blog: Blog Action Day! (I think this is an English language version of the above blog)


Sermon for Year B Proper 13: 2 Corinthians 8:7-15

Here is my first sermon preached in Antigonish, Bayfield and Country Harbour. Enjoy!

Year B
Proper 13
MP: St. Mary the Virgin, St. Paul the Apostle EP: Holy Trinity
Focus text: 2 Corinthians 8:7-15

For those of you who are married, how many of you remember the sermon the priest gave at your wedding? Do you remember the address given at your graduation? Or perhaps a graduation you attended? Here’s the real test. How many of you will remember my sermon when you leave this morning/evening? =)

One of the most profound encounters I have had was at a graduation ceremony, and it wasn’t even my own. About 8 years ago, I attended the convocation of UPEI. The speaker was a Canadian diplomat, just returned from a turn in Africa. His emotions were clearly still raw-angry and confused. He avoided any language to those dear graduates of roads less travelled, and spoke very frankly of the world they were committing themselves to, a war-torn world full of inequality, disease and poverty. My friends were completely disgusted. “What a downer”. I was spell-bound. That freshly homebound diplomat was Stephen Lewis, now one of the most powerful prophets of our time, opening the eyes of the world to the devastation HIV/AIDS is causing in Africa.

Paul’s two letters to the Corinthians are a very meaningful parallel to our own Anglican church in these times. The Corinthian church struggles with her priorities, is confused about who to follow, comes close to schism more than once, and lives in tension with a market driven world. Sound familiar?

Today, Paul is telling the Corinthians how the Christians in Macedonia, who have little, have been very generous to help the poverty ridden Christians in Jerusalem. He asks the Corinthians to consider their own resources and to show the same commitment to the furthering of God’s kingdom as the Macedonians have. Although the Corinthians are capable of giving a great deal, Paul wants to witness their desire to give and minister, not just what they can give monetarily. He asks them to finish that which they start, to keep to the commitments they have made.

Stephen Lewis shows such characteristics, giving of himself not out of convenience or well wishing. He has, as Frederick Buechner says, found where his deep gladness and the world’s great hunger meet.

This morning is not the beginning for this parish. The coming of a new incumbent or rector does not mean the wiping of a slate—all things made new. I have come to Antigonish, Bayfield and Country Harbour as only one in a long line of priests, deacons, lay readers and many many ministers. Much has happened before my time here, and much will happen long after I am gone. As a Christian community, we have commitments. We have financial commitments to ourselves, the function of our diocese and our wider church. As a worshipping community we gather to praise God and reflect on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Anglicans, we are committed to our communion in a very tumultuous time. Our Archbishop of Canterbury, our Primate and our own bishops have commended us to prayer, reflection and conversation. As a parish in the Diocese of NS and PEI, we are committed to a diocesan vision encompassing healthy congregations, organizational effectiveness, youth, Xn formation and stewardship. As part of a national church, we are committed to the work of the Primate’s Fund. And, as a parish family, we are committed to one another, encouraging and upholding one another, caring for the sick in our midst, and working for restorative justice in our community.

The Corinthian church was often guilty of becoming consumed by its internal struggles ending up in a downward spiral of confusion. WE DO NOT EXIST UNTO OURSELVES. The teaching of all the prophets, the great commandment of Jesus has us looking outward, loving God and loving our neighbour. My task is to offer direction and leadership so this parish maintains these commitments. And I am grateful to walk in knowing that so much of this work has been continued even without full-time leadership for almost a year. That is a great testament to the strength, authenticity and reliance on Christ in this parish family. WE DO NOT EXIST UNTO OURSELVES. The Church that Jesus, Paul and all of our founders began was one that looked outward, a city on a hill, shining a light into all dark places.

As I have been preaching, I know you are beginning to paint a picture of me in your mind. Next week there will be a more complete narrative about me in the bulletin, but allow me to fill in a few gaps. I am an Islander, raised on PEI—I won’t say the island, I know how dangerous that is around here! I grew up in a fishing village called Souris on the eastern end of the island. My mother, Carol, who is with us this morning, still lives in Souris and I have one older brother who is a chef in London, England. Before my degree at AST, I worked as an economic development officer with the PEI and federal governments, a youth minister, and spent four years working with an online resource for professional fundraisers. I am a rock climber—when I can find a climbing partner–and I hope you will see me riding around town more on a bicycle than in my car.

I am also a deacon, and I am going to indulge for a minute to speak about this. There is an unfortunate blip in our process that makes being a deacon look like an awkward transitional time when you are “not quite ordained” and “what’s the good of you if we can’t have the Eucharist?!” The ordaining of vocational deacons in our diocese has helped to educate all of us about the traditional role of deacon to the church. The ordained deacon’s task is, as I see it, to be the bridge between what happens in here and what is going on out there, and it is a role I take very seriously. Some say deacons are the social justice people, and, as a rule, deacons are committed to social justice, but their task is to bring those needs to the church so the church can respond in its ministry. When I am ordained a priest, I will continue to be a deacon, building those bridges. The Eucharist will continue to be a central and regular part of our life together, even though we will not celebrate it every Sunday. These months of morning prayer are a good time for us each to reflect on the role the Eucharist plays in our relationship with Christ and how it brings us together as community. It can also be time for us to focus on another area that is critical to our worship together, and that is prayer, that morning prayer is a time for us to gather and spend time in reflection and laying our concerns, our blessings, our lives before God, knowing that God is waiting for us to spend a few quiet moments with him.

Finally, I want to express my gratitude to Rev. Glen Kent and Rev. Susan Best who have served as priests in charge over these past months. In particular, it is important that we acknowledge all those parishioners who have continued to serve as wardens, treasurers, parish and church councils, lay readers and musicians. I invite all those who served in some capacity over the past year to stand. Now, take a deep breath. Now let us all stand and show our appreciation (applaud). AMEN

Day 3 as a Deacon

Most difficult question I have been asked: Do you feel different? I really don’t know. I am still so excited and slightly terrified that it is hard for me to know what is the same and what is different. I’ve worn my collar for various occasions every day since my ordination. I have decided that, until I am used to it, I will wear it. When I pop it in, I still feel like I am playing dress up, and that I am going to get caught by a real cleric, and then I’ll be in BIG TROUBLE!

I guess the difference is the subtle difference in how others treat me. I wore my shirt tonight to St. George’s Hot Meals, and it opened some very interesting conversations. I was on the door and had some wonderful conversations with those who came in out of the rain. I wonder if the way people react to the collar depends on the vibes sent out by the person wearing it. I think to see someone in a collar warmly welcome you in out of the rain is a small way to shed the baggage it often carries for people.

The ordination itself was glorious. Many thanks to everyone who made it such a perfect event for all of us. The Rev. Francis Drolet-Smith preached a wonderful sermon focussing on the stories of Mary, Elizabeth and Hannah, placing us into that story, and challenging us each to share our own song with the Church. It was a special joy for me to have my loved ones, none of whom are Anglican, all have a part in my service.

A real surprise and delight was being presented with the Bible presented to my great-grandfather, the Rev. Thomas West by Bishop Frederick Courtney in 1897 when he was ordained.

Where am I going? That, actually, is probably the question I get asked most. All I can say is I am very happy working in Fall River and Oakfield during this interim time, and I am very excited and looking forward to what the bishop has in store for me next. Blessings,