Saint James Anglican Church

Joseph Howe Drive at the Armdale Rotary, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada             


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Advent and Christmas 2009


"Glory to God in highest heaven …and on Earth peace…"

(Luke 2:14)


November weeks in Halifax have been sunny and pleasant. Still, the days are short and the night is a crisp cool. It seems a long time since June past when we walked the grounds on top of Montjuic in Barcelona. It was a beautiful arid sunlit day. We took the cable car to the fortress peak. The vista overlooking the port city of Barcelona was breathtaking. We could see for miles. Montjuic is an infamous fortress with a dark history for the people of Barcelona and the region of Catalunya. The fortifications would remind any Nova Scotian of the Citadel or York Redoubt. The fortress itself was the scene of awful atrocities committed by the State during both the Barcelona Rebellion of 1909 and Franco era Spain. Montjuic housed political prisoners and saw firing squads. Montjuic Castle, because of its past, has been chosen as the sight of an International Centre for Peace dedicated to fostering peace initiatives. Official literature describes the hopes for the future "The International Centre for Peace will be a central feature of the new site, occupying principally, the area of the old parade ground. The centre will be devoted to fostering peace through dialogue, training, and education, as well as research into conflict prevention, management and resolution and promoting a culture of peace." These are values that resonate with a great many Canadians.


Time has a way of making its presence felt. It seems a long time between a June day in Barcelona and a late fall day in Nova Scotia. It also seems like a long time since the values of peace keeping and peace making were front and centre in Canada's profile in the international community.


St. Luke, a writer of the Christmas story, understands that the birth of Jesus Christ has a way of pulling both God's time and human time together into one decisive moment. At the birth of Jesus a heavenly host sings out "Glory to God in the Highest and Peace on Earth…" According to Luke, "heavenly host" means literally "a huge army from heaven". A peaceful army of angels heralds the birth of Christ and the birth of a peaceful kingdom. God's will is a reality, not only in heaven, but on earth as well.


Contemporary Christmas celebrations, often commercial and private in nature, may seem very distant from the original Gospel message of social peace. The good news is that it does not have to be as far off as it may at first appear. The people of Barcelona are transforming a once mighty fortress prison into a place that will be a tool for peace. Pray that our celebration of the birth of the "Prince of Peace" will transform us into a favored people impatient for peace on God's Earth.


Peace to you,

The Rev. Canon Rod Gillis

Advent/Christmas 2009


Creator, kindle we pray in every human heart the true love of peace. Guide with your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that justice and peace may increase until the earth is filled with your covenant love. Amen
--A Bidding Prayer (adapted from the Book of Alternative Services p. 124)