Wine Before Breakfast Returns

WBB, 9/11 … Ten Years Later

Dear friends:

Wine Before Breakfast was born while the smoke was still billowing from the ruins of the World Trade Center. Exactly one week after that fateful September 11, 2001 we gathered for the first time as a worshipping community at the University of Toronto.

No happy praise songs that morning.
No upbeat enthusiasm to gather in the crowds.

Rather, we began our life together as a community in lament.

And over these past ten years lament has never been far from our worship.
Ten years of war.
Ten years of escalating international terrorism.
Ten years of injustice.
Ten years of increased assault on this good creation and its most vulnerable inhabitants.

And the lament has got personal on all kinds of levels.
We have faced death in the community.
We waited and prayed while Jim Loney and three other Christian Peacemakers were held captive in Baghdad.

And our lament has also been deeply personal at times.
Broken relationships. Struggling faith. Deep disappointments.
But we have still been able to sing.

At our first service our prayers took the form of a lament that we often return to in September. In that lament we recite these words from Leonard Cohen:

And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of song,
With nothing on my tongue
but, “Hallelujah”

In the midst of the pain, what really is there to do, but to sing?
Such singing is, I think, a deeply subversive and profoundly hopeful act.
Such singing can break through both the cacophony of our hyperactive culture,
and cut the silence of our cultural ending.

Silence or cacophony.

We return to WBB this year with the theme of the City in the biblical imagination.
And we begin at the end.
We begin this week in Revelation 18 and the fall of Babylon and then move next week to Revelation 21 and 22 and the New Jerusalem.
Before we can get to the new city, the old city must be dealt with.

I know it may seem insensitive and perhaps even ideologically driven to read about the fall of Babylon, two days after the anniversary of the fall of the World Trade Center towers.
But somehow, this seems to me to be necessary.

And that is where the silence comes in.
You see, when Babylon falls, the result is silence.

No more sound of industry humming along.
No more sound of trade and barter.
The musicians are silenced.
The erotic giggle of bride and groom cannot be heard.

So what do we do with this silence?

Well, Leonard Cohen again speaks powerfully into such silence:

If it be your will that a voice be true
From this broken hill I will sing to you
From this broken hill all your praises they shall ring
If it be your will to let me sing

We return to our broken Hallelujah’s.
We return to sing, from our broken hills, even from our broken hearts.

And so Wine Before Breakfast begins its eleventh year.
Come, dear friends, come and sing.
Come and bring those around you who need to pray, who need to sing.
Come and bring anyone who is hungry – the food is good.

Judith Alltree will break the bread and pour the wine.
Deb Whalen and the WBB band will lead our song.
I’ll be preaching.
We’ll all be praying.

Wine Before Breakfast
Tuesday, September 13 @ 7.22am
Wycliffe College Chapel

Breakfast served in the Chaplain’s office after the service.

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