On Church; Deacons & 'Dresses'

Most of my upbringing happened with an Anglican Church as home-base.

I was used to seeing my dad (in the choir) wearing "a dress," and watching people bow to the cross before stepping onto the stage, but I didn't understand why they did. I thought it was strange. I didn't ask questions.

Over the years, I've experienced aspects of God's vast nature through different expressions of faith, opposite ends of Christian spectrums. From conferences at the site of the Toronto Blessing, to our quaint church start-up that began in my parent's living room... from candle-lit traditional vigils, to massive baptist church teaching sessions... from a Presbyterian church in the middle of a corn field to summer camp worship and bible study on a floating dock... from Taizé style music to downtown dance parties for Jesus.. from a highly missional downtown church where I learned that church shouldn't always smell nice, to spotless Cathedrals with full-time janitorial staff... to reciting ancient creeds, to shaking with Holy laughter spouting off words in unknown languages... there's been a lot.

The gift of experiencing God in different ways has empowered me to freely express myself. From reflectively sitting at Charismatic events, to flailing my arms at the back of an Anglican Church. Each community, each encounter with God, each mentor, teacher, leader, and each worship experience have all shaped me. On a sunny September morning two years ago, I biked to a Church in my new city. Carrying all of my experiences, disappointments and beliefs about Church in my heart and mind, I walked into a day I'll never forget.

Thus marked the beginning of my time at Via Apostolica.

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A place where teaching has awakened my love for the Bride of Christ, a place where humble resilience and radical obedience has been modelled, a place where I've discovered the colossal Grace of God, a place where community has redeemed painful memories, and so much more. As our lead pastor (aka Priest, aka rector of the Cathedral --- yeah, we are Anglicans now too!) says on our website:

"Jesus is what holds this church family together.  We are a Christ-centred and devoted Church, full of imperfect people who are endlessly in need of God’s saving grace.  We love this place and though no church is perfect, we are committed to building Christ’s dream - a glorious Church."  (Stephen Barbour)

I find beauty in the Christian Church's extensive diversity. In the reality of Faith in Jesus being all-encompassing, each group of people, each system in the body is modelling an aspect of who He is, together being prepared to be His perfect and spotless Bride. It's all for Him.Thomas McKenzie in his book 'the Anglican way' digs into the compass rose, pictured above. I love every aspect of this. There is room for everyone, in every season, at every checkpoint of their journey with Christ. It's beautiful.

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WHY I'M THINKING ABOUT ANGLICANISM MORE THAN EVER THIS WEEK...

Two of my mentors and spiritual brothers (and another pretty rad dude I haven't gotten to know) were ordained as Deacons on Wednesday.I grew up hearing the 'D' word, but didn't know what it entailed until now.While covered in dust, crawling under the church stage to re-wire XLR cords, I pondered the significance of traditional dress that one of the men preparing for ordination had just explained to me, showing me the alb he'd just picked up days before ordination.

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White robes represent the righteousness of Christ (the word righteousness actually means 'garment' if you dig deep... takes 'being clothed in Christ,' or 'putting on Christ' to a whole new level!) These 'albs' are worn to state that ministers are serving not by their own volition but because Jesus covers them with His righteousness, empowering them to pour out the Love He's given them.

Black robes are called 'cassocks' and were traditionally worn as Priestly streetwear.

Scarfy sash thingies are actually called 'stoles,' and different placements signify different orders of clergy, where different colours represent seasonal themes in the Church. The Deacon’s Stole hangs diagonally from the left shoulder and then is secured at the right side. This is an outward expression of their inward call, to be a bridge between the Church and the world.

Priests and Bishops have different positioning of this piece, according to their calls too. The colours of the stoles are somewhere along the lines of purple or blue for advent and lent, white for Christmas, Easter, weddings, etc. Green for seasons after epiphany,  and red for days like pentecost, saints’ Days, confirmations, and ordinations.

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What I love about my community is it's conviction and capacity to engage with the tradition of these vestments and the sacraments, all the while not taking ourselves to seriously. To hear the Bishop make a joke about his 'silly hat' and then publicly repent immediately sensing a spirit of mockery, perhaps, is amazing. For dudes in collars to play dodgeball, or have arms covered in ink under their albs... pretty amazing.There is room for the Spirit to move when our faith is not in the traditions themselves, but in the Creator, the Redeemer, the Alpha & Omega. He makes a way for singing in the Spirit while serving the elements of the Eucharistic feast. He makes a way for Holy jolts to occur while chants fill the air. He is worthy.Because of His worth, these three men laid down their lives as they've known them to be consecrated to the Lord afresh, in a significant, life-altering and beautiful way.The responsibilities of deacons involve assisting at worship - particularly setting up the altar for the Eucharist and reading the Gospel. They are also accorded responsibility for pastoral care and community outreach, in keeping with their traditional role of manifesting the church in the world. Each of these men embody these characteristics in unique but faithful ways.I am blessed to have grown in awareness of my need for the Eucharist through them, and to have heard the gospel spoken as if Jesus himself used their voice boxes to speak to my heart when I needed hope and forgiveness.I'm inspired by the way they care for people, both in the Church and the community.To capture the evening, I created this video. With all my love for these men, this church, the Church itself, and ultimately for Jesus - the one who is awakening me into greater realities of His immense delight in me as a member of His body.

Hallelujah!