Last Wine Before Breakfast of 2010!

Last Wine Before Breakfast of 2010!

Guns, Death, and Advent

There are some events that you remember exactly where you were when you heard the news.

The assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Tiananmen Square.
The 911 attacks.

For me, I know exactly where I was when the news came over the car radio that a man was shooting students at the École Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6, 1989. As the news kept coming out of Montréal it became clear that this attack was directed towards women.

Twenty-one years ago today fourteen women were murdered. Their crime was that they were women.

I don’t know what Advent was like for the friends and families of those women and the others caught in the violence, but I’ll bet that their Christmas was awful.

Violence has a way of wrecking Christmas, doesn’t it.

And gun violence continues to destroy lives in our country, and in our city. But in Toronto it isn’t women who are the prime targets of this kind of violence. It is Black men and they tend to be turning their guns on each other. This year we have seen thirty-eight deaths, thirty-eight murders, in the Black community.

Last week, our WBB sisters, Jacqueline and Sky, led a service to remember those deaths and to pray for hope.

This week we bring some of the prayers from that service to WBB.
This week we pray for hope in the face of such violence.

Remembering the Montréal fourteen.
Remembering the Toronto thirty-eight.
Remembering all whose lives have been scarred by such violence.

And we pray against the odds that some new life would sprout from the stump of these cut down lives.

We pray that One will come with a spirit of wisdom and understanding,
a spirit counsel and of strength,
a spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

We pray that following such a Messiah, we too would judge not by what our eyes see,
nor by what our ears hear,
but with righteousness and justice.

We will pray, “Come soon, Lord Jesus.”

Wine Before Breakfast
Tuesday @ 7.22am, Wycliffe Chapel

David Neelands presiding,
Brian Walsh preaching,
The WBB Bandhood leading our music,
Jacqueline Daley leading our prayers.

Festive food, including hot apple cider, will be served for breakfast. Why not bring some friends?

In Advent hope,

Brian Walsh
Read more Last Wine Before Breakfast of 2010!

Graduate Christian Fellowship (GCF)

Graduate Christian Fellowship (GCF)
6:00pm, Thursday, December 2
CRC Chaplain’s office, Wycliffe College basement

Dear friends,

Story-telling has become a very significant part of the GCF community. We recognize that this practice of sharing our stories is a rare and important opportunity for members of this community-both for those who share, and those who receive the story. A few months ago when someone else was telling her story, Geoff wrote the following about this tradition at GCF, and it bears repeating this week:

“Several weeks ago we talked about gratitude, and the importance of attending to the good gifts that God has given us. This is especially important in a culture where, ironically, we are constantly encouraged to want more, and yet we tend to take for granted so much of what we already have. One of the ways we nurture both gratitude and a deeper community amidst the fast-paced and inherently transitory culture of higher education is to listen with care to each other’s stories. These are opportunities to hear how life experiences, faith, education, career, other people, gifts, interests, and opportunities (among many other things) have woven together to become the fabric of their lives.”

This week we are honoured to have Jashen So share parts of his story with us. Jashen has been a member of GCF for a few years, first as a fourth year undergraduate student, and now as a full-time chef. I could go on and on describing Jashen, and I could try to describe what Jashen will be sharing with us, but he says it best in his own words:

My story isn’t ‘mine.’  It doesn’t belong to me.  I belong to a story.  A story with some of the best things in the world: gifts!  Gifts like friendship, resilience, socio-cultural exegesis, dangerous ideas, and pain.  Pain is not one of the best things in the world, though.  I will share some of the most energizing and/or important gifts in my life — yes, socio-cultural exegesis is one of them.*  I am not an academic but I am a nerd.  I am a cook by trade and hope to share a bit of what that world is like.  I’m also bringing dessert.  It’ll involve chocolate.  But I must say that some parts of this story are unfortunately rated R.  If sexual assault and abuse are topics you don’t want to hear about for whatever reason, I humbly and earnestly suggest you don’t come.  Otherwise, I (also humbly and earnestly) would be honored to have your time.


*For an idea of what ‘socio-cultural exegesis’ is about, check out this article by John Pilch, a Context Group member.

Join us this week as we listen and respond to Jashen’s story, and as we take some time to pray for him. Let this be a gift that you receive and give this Advent.

Looking forward to seeing you,


Wine Before Breakfast

Wine Before Breakfast
Wycliffe College Chapel, 5 Hoskin Ave.

Swords into Plowshares

I often visit an Old Order Mennonite community in Belize when I am teaching for the Creation Care Studies Program. This community has a mill that they have built on the side of a river. At the mill they both grind their grain and cut their wood. The whole place is a marvel of recycling. The guts of the operation consist of old drive shafts from junkyard pick-up trucks. But what I love the most about this place is that the large wheel around which the biggest saw blade rotates was salvaged off of an old British Army tank.

Talk about beating your swords into plowshares!

Here this community has taken an implement of war and transformed it into a tool of community building.

And that is the hope and longing of Advent. Isaiah says that when the Lord returns to Zion,
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not raise sword against nation,
neither will they learn war any more.

That’s the hope. That’s the longing that gets reignited every Advent.

We enter into a new year, the new year of the Christian calendar, not just with cheap resolutions and renewed optimism, but with a deep and aching longing for this hope to be fulfilled. We long for the angel’s words to be true, “Peace on earth and goodwill to all.” We long anew for the coming of the Prince of Peace.

So here’s my question. If this is the heart of Christian hope, then why are Christians such a violent tribe on the face of the earth? Or, at the risk of sounding indelicate, why are Christians in North America, especially evangelical Christians, amongst the most war-mongering, national-security, support-our-troops, kill-the-enemy, and bring-back-capital-punishment folks in the population?

Well, I think there are lots of reasons, but I’m going to suggest that a decidedly unbiblical eschatology is at the heart of the problem. You see, if you have a hope that is more concerned with going to heaven and seeing your enemies all face the cataclysm of divine wrath, then language of swords beaten into plowshares and nations no longer raising swords against nations will not make any sense to you. There are too many pagans out there who will need to feel the wrath of the sword, or the Exocet missile as the case may be.

There are lots of ways to miss Advent. Having a misplaced hope in a heavenly existence outside of the realities of this broken world is one of the most sure ways to miss the point.

Tomorrow at Wine Before Breakfast: “I wish we’d all been ready.”

I’ll be preaching, Andrew Asbil’s breaking the bread that Bethany baked, David Shulman will be leading us in Advent Prayers, and we’ll kick it all off with The Doors classic song of apocalypse, “The End.”

In Advent hope and longing,

Brian Walsh

Wine Before Breakfast
Tuesdays @ 7.22am, Wycliffe Chapel
Breakfast served in the Chaplain’s Office

And one more thing!! We have a Christmas present for everyone who comes this week and next. You are going to love it!



CRC Chaplain’s office, Wycliffe College basement

This Friday!!!!

Deb Whalen Plays “The Office”
(Brian’s office, that is!)

House Concert this Friday,
November 26
7.00pm to 10.00

Our very own Deb Whalen
plays a concert of new tunes,
old tunes
sweetly covered tunes.

In a delicious atmosphere, a cadre of fine musicians will gather to support Deb as she tries to get enough money to post bail on some tunes she recorded this summer that are now sitting in a cyber-vault.

Come and help liberate these tunes!
Set the captives free!
Get this music out of jail
and into your souls!

$10.00 donation
(or more if you like)

A Party not to be missed!

Wine Before Breakfast

Wine Before Breakfast, 7:22am
Wycliffe College Chapel, 5 Hoskin Ave.

Sand or Rock?

If you are going to talk about building something … a kingdom no less … then you are going to have to talk about foundations.

And really the Sermon on the Mount has been about the foundation all along.

A most unlikely foundation for something as imperial sounding as a kingdom:

built on the foundation of the poor in spirit, not the rich in power,
those who mourn, not those who have it all together,
the meek, not the controlling,
those who hunger for justice, not for wealth,
the pure in heart, not the double-dealing backroom boys,
the peacemakers, not the war-mongers,
those who are reviled and persecuted, the bottom of the bottom.

That’s the foundation for this kingdom that Jesus is talking about.

Who would have thought that these folks would be the salt of the earth and the light of the world?

And that was only the beginning. Read more Wine Before Breakfast

Graduate Christian Fellowship (GCF)

Graduate Christian Fellowship (GCF)
CRC Chaplain’s office, Wycliffe College basement
Thursday, November 18, 6:00pm

Giving Good Gifts: Biblical Insights and Fruitful Ideas for Christmas

Dear friends,

Last week at GCF we spent some time reading some Scripture passages about money and stuff and contentment; watched two short videos about consumerism, stuff, and sustainable design; and spent time discussing the connections between these.

This week we will be elaborating on the themes of money and stuff, and will move into a discussion of an ever-present theme at this time of year: Gifts.

We find ourselves in the busiest, biggest shopping season of the year as we approach Christmas.
We are inundated with advertisements for
the “best” gifts,
the “hottest” trends,
the “certain to bring a smile to her face” jewellery.

So we thought: maybe we should talk about gift-giving and gift-receiving at GCF.

What are your expectations around gift-giving and gift-receiving?
What is expected of you in terms of gift-giving in your family, for example, or among friends?

How do you experience giving or receiving gifts at Christmas–is the process

Why do we give gifts at Christmas, anyway?
What are we trying to communicate with our giving?

Join us for an evening of discussing, Scripture reading, seeking, giving, receiving, and praying.
In this crazy fast-paced time of year, join us for an evening of resting and reflecting.

Looking forward to seeing you there!


Wine Before Breakfast

Wine Before Breakfast
Wycliffe College Chapel, 5 Hoskin Ave.
Tuesday, November 16, 7:22am

Stones or bread?

I’ve been reading Sara Miles’ wonderful memoir Take this Bread recently and that has got me thinking about hunger. In the book Miles tells the story of her own conversion around the Eucharistic table at St. Gregory’s of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. She came to the Eucharist one day, ate bread, had her life radically transformed and decided that she needed to offer bread (and vegetables, and fruit, and all kinds of other food) to the hungry people of their neighbourhood. One of the wonderful things about the food pantry (a ka “Food Bank”) at St. Gregory’s is that it happens around the altar, not stuck in a basement far away from where the body and blood of Christ are on offer at every Eucharist.

Sara Miles ate bread and her deepest hunger was satisfied. And so she offers bread. She offers to feed the empty stomachs of her hungry neighbours and in doing so touches a hunger that is deeper than the stomach.

We don’t run a food pantry at Wine Before Breakfast, but a number of us are involved in reaching out to our most vulnerable neighbours with food and drink, a smiling face, a warm bed, a place of safety.

In tomorrow’s passage from the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us that we only need to ask and we will receive, knock and the door will be open to us. “Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone?”

Bread or stone? It seems to me that we live in a culture that offers us stones for bread. Whether we are talking about the industrial products that are passed off as food or the deepest hunger for meaning and direction, there is something about the consumerism of global capitalism that fills us while leaving us empty. Indeed, fills us while making us hungry for more of what does not satisfy.

Isaiah asked, “Why do you spend your money for what which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy?” Why settle for stones, when there is bread on offer?

Jesus is the bread of life. We come to eat every Tuesday morning.

Wine Before Breakfast, bread with breakfast. Come and eat.
And bring your hungry friends.

In Christ,

Brian Walsh
Campus Minister

Dave Burke will be preaching,
Andrew Federle will be breaking the bread,
Bethany Osborne has done the baking,
the Kensington Boys are cooking the muffins,
the Amish Sausage is back,
and the Bandhood will be leading our song.

Dave’s preaching.
Andrew Federle is celebrating.
The Bandhood is leading in song.

Start Time: 7:22am
Date: 2010-11-16

Wine Before Breakfast

Wine Before Breakfast
Wycliffe College Chapel, 5 Hoskin Ave.
November 9, 2010

Empire, Money and Anxiety

Last week I went to hear Brian McLaren speak at the Church of Redeemer and in response to a question about atonement he began, “When Constantine converted Christianity …” and then paused. “When Constantine converted Christianity, not when Constantine converted to Christianity, things in our view of atonement changed.”

Now this email isn’t about atonement theology, as interesting as that may be, but rather about what happened when Constantine converted Christianity. Well, one of the things that happened was that the Sermon on the Mount had to be relativized, reinterpreted, spiritualized, marginalized and, in the end, fundamentally dismissed.

Okay, so the church historians out there (are there any church historians on the WBB email list?) are bristling at this gross overstatement. But think about it.

“You cannot serve God and wealth.”

How can a church wedded to empire ever possibly believe such a thing? I mean the church has been proving Jesus wrong on this one for centuries upon centuries. Heck, we take the folks who have most clearly managed to serve God and wealth and appoint them to the boards of our churches and Christian organizations, and when they give enough money we name buildings after them!

So then when he concludes this section of the sermon by saying “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you” we actually manage to interpret this as a guarantee of prosperity!

Well if last week’s section of the Sermon on the Mount cut through the bullshit of much of our prayer life then this week is going to cut through the bullshit of how we relate to money and wealth. And Jesus is also going to deconstruct much of the anxiety we have when it comes to security, money and status.

Bethany Osborne will be preaching and has also written the prayers.
David Julien will be breaking the bread,
and Sara DeMoor has crafted the liturgy with Deb’s well chosen music.

Rich faire, but not the kind of riches that Jesus is telling us to shun.

Hope to see you in the morning.


Wine Before Breakfast
Wycliffe Chapel @ 7.22am
Breakfast to follow.

Wine Before Breakfast

Wine Before Breakfast
Wycliffe College Chapel, 5 Hoskin Ave

Dear friends:

You’ve all heard the saying, “the bigger they are the harder they fall.”

Well there are corollary insights to that one. For example, the most holy the place, the most profane and idolatrous can be its distortion. The principle is pretty simple. The goodness of a thing, its significance and meaning, will have a proportional evil when it is misdirected, ideologically deformed.

Perhaps the most important example of this principle in Scripture is that when the creature who is created and called to bear the “image of God” rejects that call the only possible result is the demonic power of “graven images” or idols in human life.

Well, this principle of proportionality also works for prayer. I mean what is more sacred in human life than prayer? What time is more holy than time in prayer? When do we get the closest in our relationship with God than in prayer? And when, therefore, do we come to a most honest and truthful understanding of ourselves than when we stand (or kneel) before God in prayer?

And yet there is more bullshit in prayer than perhaps in any other dimension of our lives! There is more posturing, more hypocrisy, more self-centredness and more ideological self-justification going on in prayer than anywhere else. Or at least sometimes it seems that way to me.

Again, the deeper the goodness of a thing, the deeper is its distortion.

So it is not surprising that Jesus takes time in his Sermon on the Mount to instruct his followers of what prayer looks like in the Kingdom of God. He strips them (and us) of the pretense and hypocrisy as he strips down prayer to its bare essentials.

As a community of prayer, as a community that comes together every Tuesday morning with our thanksgivings and our petitions, as a community that prays a Eucharistic prayer every week, we do well to pause and listen to Jesus on one of those very few occasions when he actually teaches about prayer. And we will again follow his example as we pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name ….”

Wine Before Breakfast
Tuesday @ 7.22am in Wycliffe Chapel

David Neelands will be preaching and presiding.

Graduate Christian Fellowship (GCF)

Title: Graduate Christian Fellowship (GCF)
Location: CRC Chaplain’s office, Wycliffe College basement
Description: 6:00pm – Dinner together (Jashen\’s got something crazy planned!)
7:15-ish – A conversation with Dr. Bryan Karney, a professor in the Engineering department at U of T and someone who has spent much time thinking about vocation, faith, and academics.

Food this week:
Bread – Michael
Soup or main – Jashen, Jennifer
Dessert – Aaron
Start Time: 6:00pm
Date: 2010-10-28