The Reverend Brian Heinrich, Lutheran pastor, recently an honorary assistant at Christ Church Cathedral and former street priest of Lutheran Urban Mission Society (LUMS) was installed as vicar of St. Aidan and St. Bartholomew (“St. Bart’s”) Gibson’s Landing on Tuesday, December 13, 2016 (In our diocese Pastor Brian is styled “vicar” as he is priest of the parish appointed by the bishop without term but his ministry is not full time. A rector is a full time priest in a parish without term appointed by the bishop usually after a process of search done by a parish canonical committee and with the assistance and oversight of the Executive Archdeacon,Bishop and the Bishop’s Advisory Committee on Appointments). It was a joyful occasion attended by a good-sized congregation bolstered by a number of members of the parish of Christ Church Cathedral, and there was an impressive contingent of clergy present.
Brian and his partner Nathan now live on the Sunshine Coast in fairly close proximity to St. Bart's having recently opened a Bed and Breakfast/retreat lodging.
The preacher was Pastor Brian’s dear friend, the Very Reverend Peter Elliott, dean of the diocese of New Westminster and rector of Christ Church Cathedral. In his homily Dean Elliott did not focus on the readings for the day but highlighted the fondness that both he and Brian share for "I Love Lucy" the iconic sitcom from the 1950's (and there were later versions too) starring Lucille Ball, and the story of St. Lucy who is particularly celebrated in Scandinavian countires (Pastor Brian is of Scandinavian heritage) and who's Feast Day is observed on December 13. From the rather shocking story of St. Lucy (who dies an horrendous death), Dean Elliott extracted three "take-aways" for the people of St. Bart's to consider they were as follows:
- The Christian way with its understanding of generosity and union with Christ is often at odds with human power structures. Neither her betrothed nor the Roman governor could understand why Lucy wanted to be generous with her family’s wealth, to assist the poor. In her time, to be a follower of Christ was to be deeply counter-cultural not just in attitudes but in the way that money is regarded. In our time and especially at this time of year, our consumer culture puts endless demands on us, telling us to spend and buy and surround ourselves with objects and technology. Notions of personal sacrifice for the greater good are in short supply. A troubling rhetoric of ‘us first’ has emerged with its call to take care of ourselves first and let others get whatever they can. Dear young St. Lucy saw another way because of her devotion to Christ. Grateful for the healing of her mother, her instinct was to give now because they could and to care for the poor whose lives were so diminished. With Brian, you have a pastor who has a heart for the poor. Most of his ministry has been working alongside of people who live in poverty. I have seen him time and time again connect in simple but profound ways with those who society too often neglects. Brian is a counter-cultural Christian, one who will lead you to think about the world and the assumptions that TV and media culture present in critical ways. He won’t be giving elocution lessons to you so that you can speak about the gospel in nice refined ways: he will teach you the pedagogy of the oppressed and invite you, as part of your Christian walk, to care for and about the poor.
- St. Lucy teaches us about financial generosity. I believe that more than ever today the world needs what the Christian way offers – and our ministries are limited by the financial resources that are available. It takes money to keep buildings open, money to pay employees, money to get the work of ministry done. It’s funny that people seem to understand that money is needed for so much in life, but we can cheap out when it comes to the life of the church—and that’s sad because this place can be such an important part of people’s lives. It needs to be resourced properly. And I can’t resist a critical word to my dear clergy colleagues—it astounds me, at diocesan services, that when the collection plate is passed to the clergy, most of us don’t contribute. It’s like we’re suddenly surprised that there is a collection or that we might be asked to contribute something. Offering money is one of the ways we worship God, clergy and lay. Every Christmas Eve at the Cathedral I have to make a little speech because Christmas worshippers can be like clergy at diocesan services, the plate comes by and they seem to not know what to do. We know what to do. St. Lucy knew what to do. She made her whole life an offering; when she received a blessing she wanted to give of her wealth to assist others in the name of Christ. There’s going to be an offering tonight. I’m going to give you a moment now to get ready. I’m as guilty of this as the next person. Sometimes when a collection is coming round I look in my wallet and think, well I can’t give tonight, I only have a $20—I’d give if I had something smaller. Whatever’s possible for you tonight just do it.
- Finally generosity of spirit: parish life is challenging. You folks here will be talking about Brian. I’m here to tell you he’s good but he’s not perfect. He’s swell, but he can have a lousy day, like the rest of us. He’s here for you. Give him the benefit of the doubt. Let your generosity extend to how you regard him. He’ll love you. He’ll walk with you when your life is difficult. He’ll speak the truth to you. He’ll show up and be here on Sundays and other holy days to walk with you through the Christian year. He will seek to engage you in the work of ministry. Speak well of him and he will speak well of you.
Depending on availability of material there will be additional coverage of this liturgy in the March 2017 issue of Topic the publication of the Diocese of New Westminster, published ten times a year and circulated as a section of the national Anglican publication, The Anglican Journal.
PHOTOS: John Roper