The Rev. Patrick Blaney
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Hello! Dear friends at St. John’s Anglican Church! Well, here we are again – The MixedAbilities Choir and I sharing in worship and offering our gift of music, singing our hearts out in a clear celebration and knowledge that our gift of music is well nurtured, supported and encouraged in this community.  

And, here’s me, the MixedAbilities Choir founder and director somewhat fearlessly hoping to offer a good gospel message about Christ’s leadership in our lives.   Reading Luke for the past couple of weeks, I noticed that Luke was the only Evangelist who regarded the story of Jesus as somehow incomplete without it’s continuation in the life of the then community and the mission of Jesus’ followers.  

The theme here seems to me, to be about “Salvation”, and so I ask: “How are you and I working out our “Salvation”?” Some would make a case for the fact that we are already saved, redeemed by the simple act of accepting Christ into our hearts; I would add that that’s only a beginning and suggest that growing as a Christian, involves much more, the hard work of maintaining your praxis and commitment to going even deeper into your faith.  

“Do God’s Love!” like your sign out front used to say, but not only that, I also ask: “How can we be faithful witnesses to the terrible moment of Crucifixion?”   On this “Reign of Christ” Sunday, how can we, with conviction say “Yes!” to our call to serve in the community? You might say “Yes!” to that call by serving on one or more of the many committees or worship teams in church life, at work or at home; perhaps even by volunteering for any of the many community service organizations in our community.  

And, then, how do you say: “No!” Here are my boundaries; I cannot commit to this or that request of my time, or simply to learn to advocate self-care by admitting that you need time to consider, reflect and heal and rest before you take on another project.”   Consider those who were crucified with Jesus; how were they participating in God’s redemption project?   In our Gospel reading Luke 23:33-43 death is imminent for Jesus and those who were crucified with Him that day. Crucifixion is a horrible way to die… Who in this story recognized who Jesus was and rebuked the other prisoner who was deriding Him, and asked Jesus to remember him when He comes into his kingdom?   Jesus offered reassurance to this prisoner, by replying “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  

Wow! What a gift eh? What a witness!! Suffering painfully, this prisoner recognized Jesus, was reassured, redeemed and offered unity and Grace with the Son of God.   I ask about working out our Salvation in another way; “How do we get right with God?” Perhaps, by recognizing that God’s Salvific love is always there – God’s Grace through his Son Jesus Christ has been poured out for us and continues to land on us, so we might as well say “Yes!” to this wonderful gift!, even in those terrible moments when we think we don’t deserve it.  

When you hear God, Spirit and Jesus whispering to you, “I Love you!” What happens to you? Do you squirm a bit? Do you bask for awhile in the comforting knowledge of that love? Do you become motivated to make some changes in your life? Do you decide that you want to share that love with others?   Resurrection is the central belief that we Christians have and so therefore we can be comforted in the certain knowledge told to us by Christ in that terrible moment on the cross that death is not and does not get the final word. Love goes on far beyond Crucifixion.  

I’d like to draw your attention back to the folks who participate in The MixedAbilities Choir. Your faithful community here at St. John’s Anglican Church have offered your love and support to our mission to share our love of music in and around our community. We are very grateful for your ongoing community outreach in the form of an offering of rehearsal space for the MixedAbilities Choir here…and, I’ve got some exciting news to share here today!   The MixedAbilities Choir will kick off it’s “Annual Magical Mystical MixedAbilities Christmas Tour” today, and like always we’ll share in a festive dinner with other self advocates, their care-givers and families, we’ll decorate a tree that I’ve purchased on their behalf from the Lynn Valley Community Association, and we’ll offer a Christmas sing-along for some seniors in our community.  

Then in January just after Epiphany begins we’ve booked this Sanctuary, which we will transform into a recording studio and do a “live off the floor” recording of our favourite rock and folk tunes in aid of and in preparation for a Gala next April that will promote awareness of the ongoing needs of those who struggle with mental illness.   The MixedAbilities Choir will be backed up by some very talented local musicians who are forming the “Magical Mystical MixedAbilities Meltdown back up band”.  

My son Stuart Will and our friends Travis Box and Allan Johnston will provide some great music to kick up our sound so that we can offer a recording and be prepared to perform at the Kay Meek Centre in April. We hope to do some fundraising in order create a new Music Therapy position at the HOpe centre.  

On behalf of The MixedAbilities Choir, I want to say Thank You! We are blessed by your ongoing support, and we are so very grateful for your friendship to the families and neighbours who live and work and sing out our love in this community. Amen!    

Jill Parsons