Poetic, encyclopaedic and edgy

Published October 1, 2005

I hold Michael Peers in high regard – not on a pedestal but in high regard. He is a poet in his way of thinking – and a veritable encyclopaedia of history and detail. His stories come from the distance of a well-travelled life to the proximity of a family much adored, from visits in parishes to encounters with players on the world stage. He is also a man of many languages, able to converse with a variety of people in their own tongue, thereby gaining nuances of meaning and life that cannot be captured in a translator’s ear-phoned words at meetings.

Grace Notes – a selection of his monthly columns, which ran in the Anglican Journal when he was primate of the Anglican Church of Canada – is a comfortable and easy night-table read or a series of thoughts suitable for the beginning of the day. Each two-page article, or what some might call a devotion, is focused and self-contained.

I was pleasantly surprised by the way each one draws us into reflection on Word or sacrament. But upon reflection, that should not be surprising. Michael is not only deliberate about his own daily office, he also takes two weeks a year in retreat, time spent in reading and reflection on those ancient yet life-giving texts and traditions in the light of contemporary practices.

“Who am I?” is one of the “look inside myself” reflections that calls for commitment on our part. It suggests room for all of us: “What God will make of us is not proportional to our brains or energy or strength. It is proportional to how much of our lives we put at God’s disposal.” Michael often asks, will we act with God “to build a society with the true bread as its heart?”

If Michael has an edge, it has to do with our accepted misuse of the gifts of God, particularly money, our abuse of power and our responses to Sept. 11, 2001. These draw out another facet to his writing; a call for justice and a call for obedience to the purposes of God and not those purposes engendered by fear in the face of evil. On occasion, you will find names and offices chided; but there is always a call for the Christ-centred response.

I found Grace Notes a refreshing book that could comfortably fit into a day-at-a-time or a one-time read. Either way, there are pages you will return to again and again.

Telmor Sartison was national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) from 1993 to 2001. He and Archbishop Michael Peers, who served as primate of the Anglican Church of Canada from 1986 to 2004, together worked on developing the Waterloo Declaration, an agreement of understanding and fellowship between the Anglican Church of Canada and the ELCIC, which was accepted by both churches at their national conventions in 2001.


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