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On January 21, 2024, the bishop visited St Clement’s Church in North Vancouver to consecrate and bless the baptismal font. The congregation gathered, excited for his arrival.

This baptismal font has particularly strong significance and sentimentality since it was a gift from Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Lynn Valley. The former priest of St Clement’s built close ecumenical ties with Mount Olivet. When Mount Olivet closed, a number of former members joined St Clement’s and are now actively involved in choir, altar guild, prayer groups, hospitality and Bible studies.

Remarkably, since receiving the font, St Clement’s has seen an uptick in baptisms. Firstly, last year a family from Australia contacted St Clement’s. They had been members of Mount Olivet and were returning to Canada to have their children baptized. When they learned that Mount Olivet had closed, they reached out to St Clement’s, seeing that the church was nearby. St Clement’s welcomed them for baptism and when they arrived, the three generations of family present for the service recognized the font straightaway. They had no idea it had wound up at St Clement’s. They were able to continue the legacy of having their children welcomed into the household of Christ through the very same font they had been baptized in at Mount Olivet.

Next, the week before the Bishop's visit, St Clement’s held a baptism for four children from one family. As is the custom, following their baptism, the children walked up and down the aisles sprinkling water from the font on the people in the congregation using cedar branches from the trees outside the church. Much wetness, joy and laughter was shared.

The Rev. Helen Dunn shared: “At St Clement’s, we reckon the font has been readying itself, or rather the community has been readying itself, for the bishop's blessing all this time. The sacrament of baptism is alive and well in Lynn Valley!”

In addition to blessing the ornate font, the bishop then used the water from the font to bless the Creekside Commons. The skies also rained down from the heavens, as if exclaiming the bishop’s blessing.

The bishop engaged the children in learning about the font and discussed the importance of water, not only for blessings, but for life. Puppies were also in attendance in the congregation - it was a joyful reminder that God welcomes all beings to worship.

Later, the bishop had a poignant sermon, imploring us to embrace the role as the reluctant prophet or whatever role God wants for our lives.

The bishop shared, “Martin Luther King Junior did not want the spotlight that was put upon him, he did not want to be the one in front of the crowds, he did not want the pressure and the expectations even if he had a dream for living into loving our neighbour as ourselves.  He was reluctant perhaps because he knew that telling people about God’s desire for their lives, for change, for a grace-filled response to the gospel, was not going to be popular.  He accepted the role though, trusting in God’s calling. For on one day he said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

He went on to quip about another reluctant prophet, “Oh right, Jonah, isn’t he the guy that was swallowed by a whale? Usually that is the only part of the story that people remember, and who can blame them, it does kind of stick in the mind. But it is actually the tale of a notable, if reluctant, prophet being called to preach of God’s love and hope for the world, that’s it really, some might even say rather boring compared to aquatic life-saving missions. The prophet has a visitation from God to spread this news to the great city of Ninevah and what does this great prophet do after hearing this word from God? Well he runs as far away as fast as he can. He heads to what he hopes is the God-forsaken community of Tarshish, but the boat in which he is sailing is caught in a storm, he gets thrown overboard and then, according to the story, a great fish comes along and swallows him up. He is in the belly of the fish for three days until it brings him to dry land only for Jonah to hear the calling of God once again for him to go to Ninevah and preach a message of God’s hope and God’s love.”

The gospel reading for this day was calling to those in the pews, at home watching the livestream and in the world to come closer to God’s hope for their lives. They were a reminder to introspect on God’s mission for us, vision for the world and finding the bravery to play our divine role - despite being a reluctant prophet or otherwise.

The bishop spread wisdom, peace and joy with his presence. He also blessed the parishioners with the water from the baptismal font.

Afterwards, with minds full of inspiration and hearts full of blessings, everyone then ventured downstairs to have bellies full of lunch and cake.