Greetings from Iqaluit in the Eastern Artic in Jesus’ name! I arrived here on Monday morning. I fell asleep on the flight from Ottawa to Iqualit and as the plane began its descent I woke up with a start. I could not believe what I saw out of the window everything was eerily white and bleak and the terrain looked alien and hostile. It was like a shot from a science fiction film. Then I began to see a small settlement with piles of snow all around and a tiny runway with a yellow building which was the airport. The pilot of the Canadian North aircraft was very experienced and the plane touched down on the runway very smoothly. The temperature outside was minus 40. I was nervous because I did not have the clothes for this artic weather. We had to walk from the aircraft to the terminal building and I was praying that I would not get frost bite. Bishop David Pearson who is a very tall white haired man was there to give me a very warm welcome with a huge smile and a bear hug. He reminded me of a gentle polar bear.
I am here to meet with the design group that are planning their Diocesan Convention in May when I will be the Bible Study Leader each morning. In the evening the Bishop will open the Cathedral for all the local people to come for an evening of celebration and renewal. He has asked me to speak at this event each evening. Bishop David Pearson first met me in Sabah in Malaysia when I was teaching at an International SOMA Conference. SOMA is a Charismatic ministry based in the UK seeking to help Anglican Dioceses around the world to recognize and actively welcome the work of the Holy Spirit in our midst today. I am hugely encouraged to see the hunger for God in this diocese and have missed these kinds of events and ministry opportunities. My ministry has St. John’s over the past two and a half years has completely overwhelmed me in terms of my focus and energy.
The Diocese of the Artic in the Anglican Church of Canada is a huge area and it is the biggest diocese in the world in terms of the landmass it covers. This is a diocese that has hundreds of small communities in the bleak artic separated by thousands of miles. The only way to travel in the winter is by air and when the seas thaw in the summer some of these places are accessible by boat. Everything is flown in and the fuel is brought once a year by huge tankers. The price of everything is about three times its price in the rest of Canada. The Inuit people live off the land they are hunters and fish for their food.
Living amongst our brothers and sisters here in the Artic helps me to realize how fortunate I am living in the midst of abundance in terms of material goods. We have nice homes, good roads and supported by an infrastructure that we so easily take for granted. I am also conscious that the early men and women who came to these remote areas with the Gospel of Jesus Christ believed that what they knew and had was so precious that it was a life saver and a heavenly antidote for all our problems and spiritual ailments. These missionaries suffered and died as they traversed the hostile and difficult terrain to come to these remote communities with the message of hope and forgiveness in our Lord Jesus Christ.
I am inspired by their witness and challenged by their mission. My prayer for us in this season of Lent is that we examine our lives, our faith journey and all that we are about in the light of the death, sacrifice and suffering of our Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. May God help each one of us to draw closer to Jesus and receive the gift of His Holy Spirit to live a life that is Holy and pleasing to Him.
I look forward to seeing you all this Sunday at Church. Do remember that the Lord is Good and He is with you at all times even when you think that you are on your own.
Take care and God bless you.
Your Pastor and Friend,
Rector St. John’s Episcopal Church