Prayer Request

Those of you who pray, please pray for my good friend and colleague Joe Walker. Joe is married to Alisa and is the father of four school age children, Emily, Adam, Sarah Joy, and Justin; he is also the rector of St. Timothy’s Anglican Church here in Edmonton. Back in June Joe was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive and fast-acting form of cancer; he has one fast-growing tumour in the small intestine and another on the liver. For various reasons his cancer is inoperable, and from a medical point of view all that can be done is to keep him as comfortable as possible.

Joe’s wife Alisa has recently sent out this letter and asked that it be passed around.

July 27th, 2011

Dear Family and Friends and all our Prayer Supporters,

This is the first mass email I am attempting.  If you are a professional in another capacity and wondering why you are on this list, please forgive me I just could not at present remove your name from the group.  To everyone else, please pass this on to your church prayer team or to any friends that you think would like to pray for my husband.

The verses that have been going through my head these last few days are a call to all of us.  Men of faith rise up and sing of the great and glorious king.  You are strong when you feel weak.  In your brokenness you’re complete.  Rise up women of the truth.  Stand and sing to broken hearts.  Who can know the healing power of our awesome King of love.  Rise up church with broken wings.  Fill this place with songs again of our God who reigns on high.  By his grace again we’ll fly.

This is my hearts cry that we will sing and praise God for who He is and with thanksgiving we will make our requests known to him.  It is no secret to God that Joseph and I desire healing this side of heaven.  Today while there is life, I am constantly on God’s lap thanking him for all the ways in which He is providing for us and pleading with him to have mercy on my husband and heal him.  So many of you have been sent by God to support us in different ways and I want you to know how grateful we are and I pray that God will provide for you and meet your needs out of His abundance.  Your time before God’s throne on my husband’s behalf is an incredibly valuable gift.  Thank you.

Last week, we went to the Cross Cancer Institute and at present they are not able to provide any therapy for Joseph.  The intestinal tumour is at present, stage four, and has spread to other organs and chemo would simply make him sicker.  I knew in my gut from the second day that we were in the hospital that we were in a boat from which only God could rescue us.  Now it is official.  After being in the hospital for a month, we have now been home for ten days enjoying each others company.  Joseph’s nausea is better and he is able to keep some food down and his bowels are working so much more effectively.   We thank God for these mercies.  He is exhausted most of the time and we pray for energy and freedom from pain cramps.  All these are big physical issues that seem very scary and sad at times but I am convinced and believe God’s word that nothing is too big for Him.  Nothing is impossible with God.  With stubborn relentless faith we keep asking that the power that raised Christ from the dead and that gives life to us will heal my husband’s body.  In obedience I want to speak words of life.  I will not give up because of what I see in the flesh but I will press on in faith thanking God for what He has done, is doing and will continue to do.  I accept God’s will and pray that it be done.  For today, God’s will is that we pray for each other that we may be healed.  James 5:13-16.

Here are two sections that have encouraged me.  Romans 4:17-21.  Against hope, Abraham believed in hope the promises of God.  Even though his body was as good as dead, He did not waver in unbelief regarding the promises of God but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised.  And Psalm 33 (along with 34, 62, 91).  But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.  We wait in hope for the Lord.  He is our help and our shield.  In him our hearts rejoice for we trust in his holy name.  May your unfailing love rest upon us , O Lord even as we put our hope in you.

Thank you so much for reading this and taking the time to bring us before God in your prayers…

In Christ, Alisa

Please keep them all in your prayers.

Emancipation Day, August 1st 1834

The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 (citation 3 & 4 Will. IV c. 73) was an 1833 Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom abolishing slaverythroughout most of the British Empire (with the notable exceptions “of the Territories in the Possession of the East India Company,” the “Island of Ceylon,” and “the Island of Saint Helena“).[1] The Act was repealed in 1998 as part of a wider rationalisation of English statute law, but later anti-slavery legislation remains in force…

Slavery had been abolished in Great Britain in 1772 by Lord Mansfield in R v Knowles, ex parte Somersett[2] and Britain had outlawed theslave trade with the Slave Trade Act in 1807, with penalties of £100 per slave levied on British captains found importing slaves (treaties signed with other nations expanded the scope of the trading ban). Small trading nations that did not have a great deal to give up, such as Sweden, quickly followed suit, as did the Netherlands, also by then a minor player, however the British empire on its own constituted a substantial fraction of the world’s population…

Slavery was officially abolished in most of the British Empire on 1 August 1834.[8] In practical terms, however, only slaves below the age of six were freed, as all slaves over the age of six were redesignated as “apprentices”. The Act also included the right of compensation for slave-owners who would be losing their property. The amount of money to be spent on the compensation claims was set at “the Sum of Twenty Millions Pounds Sterling”.[9] Under the terms of the Act the British government raised £20 million to pay out in compensation for the loss of the slaves as business assets to the registered owners of the freed slaves. The names listed in the returns for slave compensation show that ownership was spread over many hundreds of British families,[10] many of them of high social standing. For example, Henry Phillpotts (then the Bishop of Exeter), in a partnership with three business colleagues, received £12,700 for 665 slaves.[11] The majority of men and women who were awarded compensation under the 1833 Abolition Act are listed in a Parliamentary Return, entitled Slavery Abolition Act, which is an account of all moneys awarded by the Commissioners of Slave Compensation in the Parliamentary Papers 1837-8 Vol. 48.

In all, the government paid out over 40,000 separate awards. The £20 million fund was 40% of the government’s total annual expenditure.

It’s worth noting that Canada was ahead of the ball game here.

I can’t imagine any government today agreeing to devote 40% of its annual revenue for a totally altruistic act that would not make any contribution to the economic well-being of the country, simply because it was the right thing to do. Nowadays the economy is god, and if that means doing things that are morally questionable, well, that’s just the way the world is.

Read the rest of the Wikipedia Article here. Emancipation Day sounds like an anniversary worth celebrating.

Our Jasper Holiday 2011

Click on thumbnail photos for full size pictures.

Marci and I have just returned from our annual visit to Jasper National Park. This year we stayed for five nights, arriving on Sunday July 24th and leaving on Friday 29th. For the first time in I don’t know how many years we played hookey from church on Sunday, leaving Edmonton around 9.30 in the morning and arriving at the Jasper town site at about 1.45 p.m. The weather was warm but quite cloudy over the tops of the mountains. After a stop at the visitor centre and a bit of shopping we went out to Whistler’s Campground and set up camp. Whistler’s, the largest of the campgrounds in Jasper National Park, is just south of the town of Jasper and is situated right under Whistler’s Mountain (so called because of the whistles of the marmots who live there).

In the evening we drove a few miles out of town up to Pyramid Lake; we parked at the parking lot by Pyramid Lake resort and then walked the mile or so by the shore of the lake up to Pyramid Island, where we wandered for a while. Pyramid Lake is named after Pyramid Mountain which is indeed shaped like a pyramid; it is a beautiful little lake with great views of the mountain ranges all around and especially of Mount Edith Cavell, always snow-covered at its peak, off to the south-east. Pyramid Island is close to the shore of the lake and connected by a wooden footbridge. The weather was still cloudy and windy when we were at the island. Looking across with my binoculars toward Pyramid Mountain I saw a female loon and two young ones on the opposite side of the lake; we would see them more closely the next day.

Monday we were a bit slow getting going in the morning. It was a glorious clear day and it would have been perfect weather for a hike on one of the high mountain trails such as Wilcox Pass or Edith Cavell Meadows, but neither of us had done this sort of thing for a while and we reluctantly decided to try a couple of days of less strenuous hikes first. The Valley of the Five Lakes is just a few miles south of Jasper; as the name suggests, it is a valley with five lakes in it, and the hiking trail leads roughly east between the fourth and fifth lakes, then north along the eastern shores of the first four lakes before turning south and coming back down the other side. All in all it’s about an eleven-kilometer hike. It’s not a mountain trail, but there are a few ridges to climb and for out of shape couch potatoes like us it was a good workout. We were hardly bothered at all by mosquitoes, which was a pleasant surprise, given that we were hiking through very marshy country. There weren’t very many other hikers on the trail but there were a few cyclists.

We were done by about two o’clock; we ate our sandwiches in the trailhead parking lot, then drove to Lake Annette, one of three lakes near Jasper Park Lodge and the most popular swimming destination in the park. It’s also one of the few lakes in the park not fed by glaciers, so, although it’s cold, it isn’t as cold as some of the others! The weather was still sunny and warm and the water, although very cold, was refreshing; it was tough getting in, but once we were in and moving around it was very enjoyable. After getting dried off, we went into town for a coffee at our favourite Jasper coffee shop, the Bear’s Paw Bakery.

In the evening we went back up to Pyramid Lake and took a canoe out onto the lake for
an hour. The weather was still holding and the lake was very calm; we took our canoe across to the far shore, found the loons and watched them for a while. Eventually we went back to the dock and then went up to the restaurant at Pyramid Lake Resort for coffee. Tourist warning: $3.25 a cup, very mediocre coffee!

On Tuesday we drove a bit further from town, up the Maligne Canyon and to the end of Medicine Lake where the Beaver Creek runs into the lake. The Beaver runs down between two mountain ranges, the Colin Range and the Queen Elizabeth Range, and the trail up along it runs past four lakes – Beaver Lake, the two Summit Lakes, and Jacques Lake. It’s about 13 kilometers up to Jacques Lake, a bit much for a return trip, but we decided to go as far as the first Summit Lake and maybe the second if we were feeling up to it. The weather had clouded over and from time to time it drizzled a bit, but not enough to make hiking uncomfortable. The trail doesn’t climb very much – only about 100 meters of elevation by the time you get to Jacques Lake and we weren’t even going half way. It leads through woodland and beside lakes and a creek – perfect country for bear and moose, so we took care to talk a lot and walk loudly so as to avoid startling any of the locals!

Beaver Lake is quite long, with the Queen Elizabeth Range behind it to the east, soaring up past the tree line to stark grey ridges. The trail led past the lake through the wooded valley, each side a riot of different shades of green, with trees, bushes, moss and wildflowers. We reached the south shore of the first Summit Lake around 12.45 and had a break on a rock by the shore, drinking some water and eating a granola bar, before pushing on along the trail by
the eastern shore of the lake. Up until this point the trail had been wide and easy, but now it narrowed and became just a track leading through the woods, with here and there a fallen tree to climb over, and all the time you were thinking about the possibility of the presence of animals. At one point we did spot a cow moose and her calf travelling fast along the opposite shore of the lake; too fast for us to get a picture though the trees, in fact. Eventually, rather tired by now, we turned back and ate our sandwiches on the same spot we had stopped earlier on the south shore of the lake before heading back to the parking lot. Again, we had done about eleven kilometers.

After a short break at the parking lot we drove on to Maligne Lake, another very beautiful and famous lake surrounded by mountain ranges. This lake is very long and there are regular boat tours out to Spirit Island (one of the most famous picture-postcard views of Jasper is a picture of Spirit Island), but we contented ourselves with wandering around the lakeshore for a while, taking a few photographs, before enjoying a cup of coffee at the restaurant (much better coffee than at the Pyramid Lake Resort!). We then drove back to Jasper along the long and winding Maligne Lake road (at one point we stopped to take some photos of bighorn sheep beside the road). The weather had continued cloudy all day with drizzle on and off.

In the evening we had a lovely visit with some friends from Edmonton who were visiting the park at the same time as us.

There was a brief shower Wednesday morning around 5.30 a.m. (you hear these things in a tent!); we were a bit undecided as to what to do that day, but eventually decided that the cloud around Mount Edith Cavell didn’t look too permanent so we would try one of our old favourites, the Edith Cavell Meadows trail. This trail does not actually climb Mount Edith Cavell; rather, it climbs a ridge across a glacial valley from the mountain, snaking up over glacial morraine and then up through trees to alpine meadows before reaching the rock and shale at the top. The total distance is 7.9 kms and the elevation gain is 523 meters from the parking lot up to the official top of the Meadows trail. Mount Edith Cavell itself has three glaciers, the Cavell, the Angel, and the Ghost Glaciers, and there is a glacial lake in the valley between the mountain and the ridge. The views are truly spectacular and it is one of the most popular climbs in Jasper; this would be our fourth time up it in the past six years.

When we got to the parking lot it was quite cool, with cloud down on top of the mountain, and even though I started out in my short sleeve shirt, drizzle soon forced me to put my jacket on. Drizzle on and off, and cool winds, were a feature of this climb – unlike earlier occasions on this trail when we had enjoyed wonderful weather – but in fact we enjoyed the cloudscapes and the trail was quieter with fewer people on it. We left the parking lot around 11.00, climbed up through the moraine and the forest and into the alpine meadows, and got up to the Second Lookout (which has the best views of the Angel Glacier) at about 12.30.  We didn’t wait long there, fifteen minutes or so, before setting out again, and we got to the top at about 1.40 or so, pretty good speed for two sedentary middle-aged folks like us, but slow for some of the youngsters! Along the way Marci got some lovely photos of rock ptarmigan and marmots. At the top it was very cool and windy; I had a nice chat with a young man from Switzerland who told us that although the Alps were beautiful ‘there’s a gondola on the top of every mountain’, so he really liked the Rockies. The cloud was blowing in and it was threatening a more serious rain, so we didn’t wait around at the top for long. We got back to the parking lot about 3.15 or so, after a little side trip to see the Glacial Lake at the foot of the mountain. We both felt really good about this climb, always our favourite despite the difficulty.

On Thursday we decided to make a longer trip across the BC border to Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. It was promising to be the same sort of cloudy day and we knew we probably wouldn’t see the top of the mountain, but we had not been to Robson for some years and had never done any hiking around there. It was a beautiful drive of about 90 kms; the mountains on the B.C. side of the Great Divide seem to me to be less rocky, more tree-clad, and the valleys seem somehow wider and more spacious. Also, the trees seem a little taller on average and of course there is more rainfall on the western side of the Great Divide, so it may well be true.

After a brief stop at the Mount Robson visitor centre we shouldered our packs and set out to Kinney Lake, which is the first stop on a long 21 km hike to Berg Lake. There are walk-in campsites along the route but we were only doing a day hike so we didn’t need to pack any camping gear with us. The trail seemed very different from a Jasper Park trail; the trees are taller, the undergrowth more lush – moss, lichens, and many other types of plants that I couldn’t identify. The Robson River is a constant companion, rushing noisily along to the right of the trail; we took many photographs of its beauty! There were a few others on the trail, some obviously planning to camp, others just day hikers like ourselves.

It is 4.5 kilometers to Kinney Lake, a beautiful clear mountain lake with light blue water and steep mountain slopes all around. Before you get to it, the Robson River runs under a bridge giving wonderful views up and down stream. There are a couple of picnic tables and camping pads by the lake shore, and we met a very nice couple from Milwaukee who we chatted with for a while. Eventually they took our picture by the lake and we took theirs, after which they went on while we sat for half an hour, ate our sandwiches and enjoyed the peace and the beauty all around. Then we shouldered our packs and walked the 4.5 kms back.

After a bit of browsing in the visitor centre, we drove east a couple of miles and took a brief walk down to Overlander Falls, a lovely set of falls and rapids on the Fraser River. This is the final barrier for salmon swimming up the Fraser to spawn; none of them have made it past this spot. By now our legs were very tired, so we drove home, stopping along the way to sit on the shore of Moose Lake for a few minutes.

Thursday evening, for the first time, we got rain heavy enough to force us to take refuge in our tent and read for a couple of hours before going to sleep. It was then, talking to our daughter on the phone, that I first heard the news of John Stott’s death the previous day.

Friday was our last day in the park and the weather was quite pleasant. We had been to bed and sleep early so got up early too; we were dressed, packed and had broken camp by about 8.15 a.m. We then went in and had a leisurely breakfast at the Bear’s Paw Bakery before driving north-east almost to the park gate, then off to the right to take the long and winding road (speed limit rarely above 50 km/h) to Miette Hot Springs. This is a spectacular natural hot spring with gorgeous mountain views all around it; the water comes out of the ground at 54ºC, but they cool it to about 40 before putting it into the pool. There are also two smaller pools, one at 21ºC and one at 12ºC. We both had sore muscles after four days of hiking so were looking forward to an hour in the water. We enjoyed all of the pools but the hot one the most, of course. Then, after a coffee in the café, we finally drove back to the main road and set off for home after five wonderful days in Jasper National Park.

John R.W. Stott, April 21st 1921 – July 27th 2011

I heard last night of John Stott’s death on Wednesday at the age of 90.

I wrote a tribute to John a few months ago on the occasion of his 90th birthday. He influenced me in countless ways, and I will always be grateful to have had the opportunity to spend a few days with him back in 1990 and to get to know him a little. In his last talk at the Keswick Convention he said that the goal of the Christian life is Christlikeness, and to me he was truly a Christlike man. Rest in peace and rise in glory, Uncle John!


John’s church, All Souls’ Langham Place, has a fine tribute page here.

The Langham Partnership Tribute is here.

The Daily Telegraph has a very fine (and mostly accurate) obituary here.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s tribute is here.

The Church Times notice is here.

There are other tributes by Phil Ritchie, Simon Nicholls, Doug Chaplin, Archbishop Cranmer, Archdruid Eileen, Mark Meynall, Peter Kirk, and many others (Google ‘John Stott’ and you’ll be reading for hours).

There is also an online remembrance book.

‘And Live This Day As If The Last’

This past year, I began to notice that I was getting a big increase in the number of floaters swimming across the field of vision in my left eye. Eventually I went to see an optometrist and he told me that the vitreous was coming detached from the retina – apparently a normal thing in someone of my age – by the time we reach 65, two thirds of us will have experienced it. But it caused me to ask myself – if you knew without a doubt that you only had two years of eyesight left, what would you do with it? I love reading, but I had to ask myself – what would you read if you knew your reading days were limited? Why would you waste time reading stuff that was trashy and second-rate? Surely you would read the really important stuff, wouldn’t you? – the stuff that has influenced the world, or the stuff that has had an impact on the spiritual lives of people down through the years.

A couple of months ago I had an email from a dear friend, and a few hours later I was standing in a hospital ward beside her. Her husband was on the bed, tubes in his throat and an oxygen mask over his face. Without warning, an aneurism had burst at the back of his brain. By great good fortune the ambulance had made it to their house quickly and then had made it to the hospital in record time. Still, two months later he is only making the very slowest of progress, with lots of challenges, and what shape the future will take for him is very much an unknown.

A couple of weeks later I got a phone call telling me that one of my best friends, a fellow priest with a wife and four small children, had been diagnosed with a very aggressive and fast-acting cancer. As I write, he is fighting for his life. This time last year, I assumed he and I would have many years yet of fulfilling friendship and of sharing in God’s work together. How quickly things can change.

The title of this post comes from a hymn by Thomas Ken that I learned as a choir boy. The verse it’s taken from goes like this:

Redeem thy misspent time that’s past,
And live this day as if the last;
Improve thy talent with due care;
For the great day thyself prepare.

The lesson is: don’t take life for granted. Don’t assume your friends will be here forever. Don’t take it for granted that you have years left with your loved ones. Don’t assume that your health will always be good. Receive every day as a gift from God and live every minute of it to the full.

I’m trying to remember that lesson.