Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. (1 Peter 4:10)

I would like to say “THANK YOU!” for your continued support and the call to serve you as your pastor for another five years. Our journey together has been interesting to say the least. I have been your part time pastor, your interim pastor, and your full time pastor, all within a period of five and a half years. I look forward to continuing my role as your full time pastor for the next five years beginning February 1, 2018.
Since the first call to be your full time pastor, I have been amazed at how willing everyone has been to step up and do the so many and varied jobs necessary to be an effective church. What we have accomplished in this short time has been significant. Together, from over 500 pairs of socks to providing meals for students in the neighbourhood, we have shown ourselves to be a church sensitive to the needs of those around us, as well as a caring and generous community happy to meet those needs.
We have opened our doors to an increasing number of groups and organizations that have shared many positive and appreciative comments about not only our building and our grounds, but also our welcoming and warm hospitality. We have hosted several events for the wider Lutheran community in London and the Thames Valley Ministerial. Last year, we had 122 Lutherans from Redeemer, St. Ansgar, and Trinity attending our non-picnic picnic on the July 1 weekend. We hosted the Lutheran Social Services (London) Annual Meeting and look forward to hosting their annual Meet and Greet next January. We are able to do this because of your active participation and support. No one alone could accomplish all that we have accomplished together.

I could go on and on, from our expanded library and Sunday School program, to clean ceiling fans and the new cupboard in the Wittenberg Room. A lot of good things have happened in a short time. But our work is not done. There are many needs and many challenges that will come our way. We are in a good position to meet those needs and challenges, but we cannot rest on all our past accomplishments. We have proven our commitment to doing God’s work, and now we need to remain focussed on our mission as we face the future together. As we begin the next chapter in our ministry, let us always remember that God walks with us. We never walk alone.


Pastor David



If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
(Galatians 5: 25)
I am probably one of the few people who really enjoys the requirement of two weeks of Continuing Education that pastors are supposed to do each year. Maybe it is because I spent most of my life in an academic world. It is not that I am any smarter than anyone else; it is just that I like to learn, which would probably come as a surprise to many of my high school teachers. Maturity may have something to do with birth of my love of learning.
As many of you know, I spent the week of May 14th in San Antonio, Texas, at a Homiletics Festival. What is that you may ask? Well, it is a conference on the art of preaching. Over 1,800 preachers from all denominations and from all over North America gather each year to hear and study with the best of the best. These gurus of preaching not only write books and teach university classes about preaching, but they actually preach. There were eight of us from the Eastern Synod in attendance. The morning session and the afternoon session always begin with a worship service and one of the experts actually does the sermon. Following worship that same person gives a lecture on his or her preaching. There are also special lectures and events in the evening.
I find the worship services nourish my soul and the lectures challenge my intellect. I also find this a very humbling experience. It is impossible to hit a “home run” sermon every Sunday, but we pastors keep trying. It amazes me how the message I hear in a sermon can be very different from the message one of my colleagues hears. But I guess I should not be surprised because often on Sunday morning someone will say something about how a sermon I just finished spoke to him or her in a way I did not see coming. I love when that happens.

When two or more are gathered the Holy Spirit is with us. I firmly feel and believe this to be true. The Sunday morning sermon would be just a bunch of words without the intervention of the Spirit in the writing, delivering, and understanding the sermon. When we gather on Sunday morning it is the presence of the Holy Spirit that makes our time together special, different from any other gathering.

The Day of Pentecost is Sunday, June 4th, this year. On this day we celebrate the Holy Spirit as the power of God among us that heals, forgives, inspires, and unites. We also celebrate the birth of the church, the community of God’s people central to God’s work in the world. It is comforting to know that we are never alone, that the Spirit is always with us, on Sunday morning as we gather for worship and fellowship, when we are at home wrestling with a passage of scripture, when we are ministering to others in God’s world, and for some of us as we try to write a “home run” sermon.

Pastor David


The Easter Message from Bishop Younan
As we continue our Easter journey through the fifty days to Pentecost, I am sharing this timely Easter message from Bishop Younan, the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Having spent a total of six weeks in Palestine and Israel I am acutely aware of the oppression the Christian people suffer in these countries. These are the descendants of the original Christians. Many have left, with many coming to Canada. In light of the reality under which these people live, I hope you can find the same meaning and hope in Bishop Younan’s Easter message as I have.
Shalom, Pastor David

Resurrection Joy in a Fearful World

Easter Message 2017 – From Bishop Dr. Munib Younan
“…the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” ~ Matthew 28:5-8

Alleluia, Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia! Al-Masih qam! Hakkan qam!
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, on Palm Sunday morning, after being in church and feeling encouraged by the message of “Hosanna!” sung by the children and the congregation, I heard the sad news of the massacre of our sisters and brothers in two churches in Egypt. One cannot receive such horrific news except with tears. The feelings of great joy on our feast day, and great sadness over such a horror, are inseparable—much as the great joy and great fear of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were inseparable as they ran from the empty tomb.
And so I must confess that as I prepared this Easter message from Jerusalem, the city of the crucifixion and resurrection, to the whole world, I had some doubts in my heart. I thought: What message can I bring this year that is different from past years? Has the Easter message lost its meaning, disregarded by Christians as well as others? Is it just a message of idealism, far from the lived experience of people today? What does the resurrection of Jesus have to say to us in the midst of the terrors, chaos, and uncertainty of today’s world?
But then I remember that the life of faith is not always one of assurances or certainties. Jesus’ own disciples struggled to understand his teachings and his journey to the cross. Peter denied Jesus three times. The guards at the tomb were so afraid that they became “like dead men.” Mary Magdalene and the other Mary ran from the tomb with “fear and great joy.” And on the walk to Emmaus, the disciples did not recognize the risen Christ until the breaking of the bread.
Therefore, there is no shame to admit that here in the Middle East it is a very challenging time to proclaim and live the Good News of the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus. The struggles we are facing are very real and are becoming even more complicated. We have good reason to feel confused! And still, the message of Easter comes to us very clearly: Christ is risen! The powers of sin and death have been defeated! And as the angel of the Lord has promised, the risen Christ now goes before us to lead the way in this broken—and often frightening—world.
I think of the story of St. Augustine, who was full of doubt but prayed earnestly for the gift of faith in God. While he was praying, he heard the voice of a child saying, “Pick it up and read! Pick it up and read!” He thought this could be the Lord telling him to read the Holy Scriptures, so he searched and found a Bible. Then he opened it and read the first verse he saw, from the Letter of Paul to the Romans: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh or the gratification of your desires.” (Romans 13:14) The young Augustine read no further, for there was no need. He later wrote: “No sooner had I reached the end of the verse than the light of certainty flooded my heart and all dark shades of doubt fled away.” (Confessions)

Thanks be to God, the risen Christ always comes to us when we are full of doubt, and shows us the way of love and light! For this reason, even in the midst of our confusion and sadness over the killing of innocent Christians at prayer, we can say with certainty: There is no religion which accepts the killing of innocent worshipers, who were doing nothing but seeking closeness with God. These acts are untenable and unaccepted in any religion. We are grateful that the vast majority of Muslim friends also stand with us as equal citizens against such horrors.
Today we are also facing a horrible and confusing situation in Syria, in Iraq, and across the Middle East. We see the images of chemicals stealing the breath from children, and of cities lying in rubble, and we wonder, “What can we do?” At the same time, we see missiles flying and we are afraid of what comes next – for Syria, and for the whole Middle East.
And again, although we may feel confused, because we have seen the risen Christ we know one thing for certain: Syria has no need of more weapons, more violence, or more massacres, or more extremism from anybody. This is creating international tension, straining relations between friends and partners, and we are afraid of what comes next. I urge world leaders to hear the words of Jesus to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane, after Peter had cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant: “Return your sword to its sheath! For those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” Violence breeds violence, whether it is committed by terrorists or by governments. I call on the leaders of the world: Return your swords to their sheaths! Bring instead peace based on justice to Syria, to Iraq, to Palestine and to the whole Middle East. Bring a future for us and for our children.
As Christians in the Holy Land today, the turmoil in these many neighbor countries is very frightening. At the same time, here at home we are in our fiftieth year of occupation. Many Palestinian Christians are asking, “How long, O Lord? When will this end? Where do we belong?”
For this reason, I feel it is important to acknowledge that even as we sing our joyful “Hallelujahs” and celebrate Our Lord’s victory over death, some fear and confusion and doubts still remain. And yet, we must remember that we are not alone. These are the very same feelings the disciples felt after the resurrection of Jesus.
When our Lord was raised on that resurrection morning, the earth shook, an angel arrived in a flash of lightning, and the stone rolled away from Jesus’ tomb. It seemed the very foundations of heaven and earth had shifted. What we proclaim today as Good News, at that time was only confusing, frightening news! The guards, the women, and the disciples were all afraid of what they saw and heard. They were all afraid of what would come next. They wondered what the resurrection meant for their lives.
And yet, this same earth-shaking event is the one that gives us hope today. The powers and principalities of sin and death could not overcome the love of God. Yes, they could crucify Jesus. Yes, they could bury Jesus. But they could not bury God’s love for the world!

In the midst of their confusion, the angel told the ones gathered at the tomb, “He is not here, He is risen!” In the midst of bombings, Christ is risen! In the midst of persecution, Christ is risen! In the midst of violence and occupation, Christ is risen! In the midst of poverty and sickness, Christ is risen! In the midst of war, Christ is risen! And in the midst of our families, our communities, and our churches today, Christ is risen!

This is our hope, and we must cling to it. The message of Easter is not idealism. Christ’s victory over sin, death, and despair, is the only hope that has kept Christians steadfast in this land for two thousand years. It is the only hope that carried the saints of every age through trials, struggles, and persecutions. And it is the only hope that today will carry us through these confusing times in the Middle East and throughout the world. The Good News of the resurrection gives Christians clarity and purpose, no matter where they are, and no matter what the future brings. Jesus, the Morning Star, goes before us to lead the way—and the Way of Jesus is always the way of peace, justice, mercy, healing, reconciliation, respect for diversity, and living together as one people of God.
Therefore, Palestinian Christians will continue to be steadfast in our land. We will continue to carry the message of resurrection in the face of all who promote a culture of death. In the midst of power struggles, political maneuvering, and the growth of extremism in our world, we will only proclaim the culture of life and life abundantly, will full dignity for every human being. As we celebrate Our Lord’s victory over death, in this 500th year of the Reformation, let us trust that Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection have already liberated us by grace. We are not afraid! Despite all troubles and tribulations, let us go out from our churches and into the world with the joy of the resurrection, knowing that the risen Christ goes always before us. Let us encourage one another with the two-thousand year-old Easter greeting of Jerusalem:

Hallelujah! Christ is risen! Al-Masih qam! Hakan qam!


Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but he has risen. (Luke 24: 5)

Is Easter incomplete if you did not receive a chocolate Cadbury egg? Thanks to modern media advertising many people, young and old, think Easter is a failure if they do not receive the expected goodies. After all, what is Easter without enough assorted candies to cause a diabetic coma? Sadly, for many Easter ends with the Easter basket.

Those who know me know I love my sweets, and no one enjoyed their Easter basket growing up more than I did, but Easter in my family did not stop with the colourful eggs and jellybeans nestled among the assorted candies. Easter was a time for family and for church. Holy week was a week that always felt different in my home. There were the usual joyful preparations for family arriving and Easter dinner, but there was also an underlying seriousness that grew as we approached the Three Days. We attended Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services as a family. The reality of Easter was better understood in the context of the worship experience of the previous two days. After all, you can’t have Easter without Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. I am very grateful that my parents made sure my sister and I knew and experienced the entire story, not just the fun part.

As we approach Holy Week and the Three Days, I hope everyone will participate in the entire journey, and not just settle for the easy parts. Easter is not just about running to the empty tomb. Easter is also about the journey after the empty tomb, about allowing this journey to take us to the deepest regions of our hearts and minds. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ God gave us such a miracle of love and forgiveness that it is worthy of our full attention and consideration. The resurrection is not an ending, but a beginning.

A chocolate Cadbury egg is so very insignificant compared to the gift of the resurrected Christ that it probably should not even be mentioned. Yet, it receives more attention during the Easter season than does the risen Christ. So, I guess the question is, “What is in your Easter basket? Is there room for the entire Easter story, or have the Cadbury eggs crowded out the true gift of Easter, the entire story of the Resurrected Christ?

Shalom, Pastor David


Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high.
(Isaiah 58:4)

March 1st is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of Lent. The season of Lent is a forty-day journey that ends at Easter. For centuries Christian seekers and believers have observed this as a time of self-reflection, sacrifice, and repentance. Some Christians make this a season of fasting, prayer, or another spiritual discipline.

While growing up, the practice of “giving something up” for Lent was optional. I usually tried, and some years were more successful than others. If you gave something up it had to be something that was a sacrifice, not something ridiculous like giving up riding elephants in northwest Ohio during Lent. I was very serious about this so I gave up something I really loved. I am sure many of you can already guess that it was sweets. Some years I would add snacking between meals. It was all very healthy, but very difficult for me. When I grew older I would add additional prayers or Bible study to my Lenten discipline.

I am not sure I truly understood why I was doing this Lenten discipline until I was much older. The discipline was good for me, but it was more than just the actual act of giving something up or doing things differently. The prophet Isaiah warns us that even prayer and fasting can become corrupted. We are not to engage in pious practices with an ulterior motive in mind.

It is unacceptable to fast and pray in order to win favour with God, to “make your voice heard on high.” Christians do not take on spiritual disciplines to win favour with God but to draw near to God. In a short time I began to experience this.

Some people give something up that is important to them during Lent. Others do things for others that they normally don’t do with any regularity during the rest of the year. There are some who attend special Lenten services, spend more time in prayer, or do additional Bible study. And then there are those individuals who do a combination of disciplines. Whatever it is we decide to do, the end result is still the same. We draw closer to God.

We are given these forty days of Lent as an opportunity to grow in our relationship with God and with each other. When you draw near to God you cannot help but draw near to the people around you, and when you draw near to others you draw near to God. Blessings on your Lenten journey, whatever path you may choose to walk.


Pastor David


Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last only worked one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.”

(Matthew 20:10-12)

Our search for God is a lifetime journey. It does not come in an instant like a completed exercise. It does not come as an automatic reaction to keeping a prayer schedule. Prayer is not the immediate answer to the search for God. Prayer is only the promise that there is purpose to the quest. When we are ready, God will be there. But readiness for God is something to be developed.

Instinctively and timidly, we avoid any real encounter with God because we know it will change our lives. Yes, we go through the motions of seeking God. But we find it very hard to believe that God is God: all knowing, all merciful, all loving, and all patient.

Like the workers in the fields who came at the last hour, those of us who spend our lifetime growing into God will find at the very end the same God that others may come to know long before we do.

Augustine wrote, “Our God does not change. It is we who will change as time goes by. God is God always. And God is with us always. It is we who are so often somewhere else.”

Having sought and gone through all the ups and downs of life, God is still there waiting for us. When we are finally ready and willing to look, the love of God, still alive in us, still beckons us beyond the frills and fantasies of life to the meaning of what it means to be alive, to the basics of life itself.

It is being wise enough to pray for the grace of awareness of the presence of God that will eventually prepare us to see God’s presence in all the dimensions of life. Then we will not treat God as an answer to our problems. We will understand that God is more the Companion whose light within us leads us through those problems.

There is no such thing as coming too late to God. Clearly, we cannot lose God; we can only prepare ourselves to come to see the face of the eternal and ever immediate God in everything. How long will it take? What difference does it make? The God we find when we do find God will be the same God however long it takes, whenever it happens. It is the journey, not the end, that counts.

Pastor David


For everything there is a season, and a time for  every matter under heaven.(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Less than a month ago, I was back in Ohio celebrating American Thanksgiving with my family and some very dear friends. I returned to Advent season and all the activities of preparation for the Christmas season. Before the actual Christmas activities begin, I was already sharing plans for Lent with council at the December meeting. Now, I find myself writing this newsletter article about the New Year before the Christmas season has actually started. No wonder I am so confused! What holiday is it again? Clearly there is a time for everything, but as you can see, sometimes these times overlap.

The New Year always brings a renewed interest in time. Many of us start the New Year reflecting on the past year and making resolutions for a better year ahead. It seems most often these resolutions revolve around diet and exercise. And as we all know, rarely are those resolutions ever kept. (I am also speaking from personal experience.)

As we approach the New Year, maybe instead of looking at the surface issues of our lives, we could take more time and give more thought to reflecting on those things in our lives that really

Matter. (Not that diet and exercise aren’t important!) It is also a time to give thanks for the many blessings of the past year, and for God’s continued support through those difficult and challenging times.

The year 2016 has been a very good year for the St. Ansgar family. It has been a year of both healing and growth. We have supported each other during loss and difficult times. We have supported the wider church and those in need unknown to us. We have been unselfishly busy doing God’s work. As we look back at the past year we have a lot for which we are thankful.

Looking ahead to the year 2017, one of those things that really matter in our lives is our church family. Rather than a New Year’s resolution, I would suggest a New Year’s commitment to the continuation of all that is good in our church lives and also to the many possibilities of service to others outside our community, who need to experience God’s grace and love through us, the family of St. Ansgar.

No matter what the holiday, no matter what the time, God calls us to be both his hands and his feet. As the times in our lives overlap, may we continue to be living examples of God’s love for this world and our love for each other.

I wish all of you God’s peace and blessing in the New Year!

Pastor David



…I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.     

(Luke 2:10-11)

This Sunday, November 27th, marks the beginning of Advent, a four-week time of preparation for Christmas. Historically in the church, this was a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ child, a season similar to Lent. Few, if any of us, remember this tradition. Instead most of us remember the ever-growing secular season of preparation for the Christmas holiday. Beginning around Halloween, Christmas decorations began appearing, the “shop early” mentality took over, and the “Holiday Season” had begun. Christmas music hit the sound waves in early November and played on until it was no longer pleasing to the ears. The toy commercials told the unsuspecting children what they wanted for gifts and the once quiet time of preparation was lost. Instead of looking forward to the Christmas season, we became overwhelmed and couldn’t wait for it to be over for another year.

I admit that I used to be just as guilty as everyone else. I, too, lost the “reason for the season,” and spent countless hours shopping for the perfect gifts, spending more than I should have.
Decorating for the holiday became more extravagant each year and I often wondered what happened to good taste.

The one saving grace for me was Christmas Eve. We always had a big meal and the family was together. The nonsense seemed to be over and a relief settled over us. For the first time all season, it was about being with family, sharing a meal together, and at 10:45pm we would pile into several cars and head for the 11:00pm candlelight service at church. At least three generations of us would fill a pew, heave a big sigh of relief, and settle in to what Christmas was really all about. What an exciting feeling came over all of us as we heard the Christmas story, sang carols, shared another meal together called Eucharist, lit a little white candle, and found the Christmas peace that had eluded us the many weeks before this sacred night.

My most meaningful memories are of the times we spent together as a family, first as a child and later as a parent, on Christmas Eve. I only remember a few of the many presents I received on Christmas morning, but my memories of Christmas Eve are still strong today. It is hard to stay focused on the real meaning of Christmas, the birth of the Christ Child. It is hard not to get caught up in the secular holiday since it is everywhere dec-2016around us. But the peace of Christmas can only be found in a quiet stable, or during a Christmas Eve service surrounded by family and friends.

My Christmas wish for you is that you may find the real peace of Christmas in the gift of the Christ child.


Pastor David


Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  (1 Peter 1:15-16)

Three weeks ago I found myself once again boarding an airplane at Detroit Metro, heading,  this time, for Minneapolis to complete my 2016 continuing education requirement. I regard myself as the reluctant passenger on any airplane, and see air travel as a necessary evil. After all, in the unexamined abstract, airplanes do not make much sense. Think about it. A hunk of metal, over 450 tons, flying, unsupported, through the air….with me aboard!

Then, in the back of my mind, somewhere from high school long ago, the physics begin to unfold, bringing some comfort as we taxi down the runway. Newton’s Laws bear themselves out as the thrust from massive engines counters the drag of the wind, creating a force of lift greater than the weight of the airplane, which then rises. This seems startlingly simple, yet it took millennia to discover.

Holiness is something like that. In the abstract it makes little sense and seems unattainable. How are we, with all our human qualities and weaknesses supposed to be holy, like God?

And then God’s word unfolds. Love God fully, totally, now. Love our neighbour in precisely equal measure to how much we love ourselves….in all of our interactions. Read God’s word and strive daily to follow its instructions. Love God and love our neighbour. Startlingly simple, imminently attainable, yet we still have not fully discovered it. Perhaps today will be the day!


Pastor David


Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit  the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

Since time began one of the great debates has been over which is better, quantity or quality. Our secular society is all about quantity. Who has the most toys seems to be the winner. Why worry about quality? Just throw the broken item out and go buy a new one.

The preference for quantity over quality has spilled over into the world of the church. In this era of mega churches and televangelists the only successful church seems to be a big church. The pressure is on to “grow the church.” It is very important to be an inviting and welcoming church community, but just because we aren’t a rapidly growing congregation does not mean we are not a successful church. And yes, we are growing!

Rally Sunday was a shining example of how quality beats quantity. I am often asked, “Where are the youth in our church?” Not all of them attend regularly, and they are missed, but two of our youth, Elizabeth and Caedwyn, supported by their parents, and Sunday school teachers Deb and Carmen, planned and implemented one of the best Rally Day Sundays I have ever seen! All in attendance that Sunday were actively involved, and were led through the various activities by our youth. It was a wonderful event, planned, coordinated, and directed by two very special young women.

A council of seven dedicated and hardworking members of St. Ansgar currently lead our church. Our committees are small in number but all the work that needs to be done is undertaken in a timely and efficient manner. Our choir may not have 100 voices but they make beautiful music and add so much to our worship. The ladies of SAW contribute many things to our church and church family. So many individuals work behind the scenes to support our ministry. We are fiscally sound and have generously supported many causes throughout the past year, from laundry detergent to socks, from milk bags to the people of Fort McMurray, from the Women’s Shelter to the Humane Society, just to name a few examples. We support our synod and our national church and are now actively involved in the ELCIC Reformation Challenge.

There is no worthy cause too great or too small for the people of St. Ansgar. Borrowing the words of our Bishop Michael Pryse, from the September issue of Canada Lutheran, “we strangely persist in seeing the life of the church through the lens of scarcity.” It has been my experience that this is exactly how we see the church. The notion of quantity overshadows quality. It is time to shift our focus and recognize that it does not take a large quantity to have quality. Bigger is not necessarily better. The people of St. Ansgar Lutheran Church, active members of the living body of Christ here on earth, are living proof that quantity is not a requirement for quality.

May God continue to bless us as we go about the business of doing God’s work.


Pastor David