Sojourners in a New Land

Twenty years ago Fred, Rudy, Heidi and I sailed the forty-foot boat we used to own west around the world from Vancouver to Turkey. The voyage took three years and we visited seventeen countries. People often ask which one was our favourite, and I never have an answer. Each country had its own beauty and way of doing things that was both inviting and challenging. No place was perfect. We received each country as it was, appreciated what was given and tried not to offend the locals.

st-stephens-the-martyrI am reminded of that now that we have “dropped anchor” at St. Stephen the Martyr Church. I grew up United and Fred Catholic. After raising our children in the United Church, we spent over a decade in a Reformed church.

Now, in the land of Anglicans, we are encountering a new culture and language. I learned that “Table Eucharist” is having communion during a meal, “wardens” are kind of like head elders, the “sacristy” is where the priest and helpers keep their robes, and those helpers are called sacristans.

2 Children's time with Bishop SkeltonAnglicans also have different customs and historical traditions. The church bell is rung, prayers are printed and recited, and, I’ve discovered, it’s a big deal when the bishop pays a visit.

On Maundy Thursday, after Table Eucharist, we washed each other’s feet, stripped the altar and turned out the lights. On Good Friday, I walked the Stations of the Cross following children who carried it. On Holy Saturday, I was sprinkled with water to remember my baptism (after being forewarned to take off my glasses). On Easter morning, the church was resplendent with lilies, fresh flowers and alleluias. 

I am enjoying this new land and its people. My senses have awakened and joined me in worship. I look forward to passing the peace to people of diverse ages, ethnicities and abilities. Sure, I’ve had to bite my tongue when things are not done the way I’d like, but I’m learning to go with the flow. After all, I’m not the captain of this ship; I’m what they call a parishioner.

Lord, I love the house where you live,
    the place where your glory dwells.
— Psalm 26:8 (NIV)

Tieras in Bora Bora cropped

 Tieras and crew in Bora Bora, French Polynesia 1993

Photos of St. Stephen’s  and  Bishop Melissa Skelton with children of St. Stephen’s by Randy Murray, courtesy of the Diocese of New Westminster. Used with permission.
Photo of Tieras by Cheryl Green. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2015.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013, 2014, 2015.

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
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2 Responses to Sojourners in a New Land

  1. Dave Small says:

    Nice to hear the travel opportunities you’ve had. That has to be filled with wonderful memories. Great application to your current “travels”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am so happy and lucky that you have dropped anchor at Saint Stephens and you berth in the pew on front of me. It is my blessing that the winds have blown you in my direction and forever into my heart.


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