I asked the rector if I would see Sid that day. It was Dec. 12 of last year. He said yes, Canon Davies would be at the 9:30 a.m. eucharist at St. Michael and All Angels in Canning (Nova Scotia) and at the choral evensong later in the day. I was in the parish for commemorations of its 250th anniversary and the 200th of the opening of historic St. John’s Church in Port Williams.
Sure enough, as we arrived for the eucharist, Sid was there, with his wife, Ruth. He is 99 and is looking forward to his 100th birthday on Sept. 1. A priest for 71 years, Sid is no longer able to travel about the parish as much as he once could. Now, he exercises his ministry of pastoral visitation by telephone. Every week he calls parishioners who are sick or shut-in and brings their pastoral or sacramental needs to the attention of the rector, the Rev. David Garrett.
Though Sid is physically frail and dependent on the help of others to get around, he is as mentally alert and spiritually alive as ever. At the eucharist, he proclaimed the gospel with a voice and a conviction that was as strong as ever. At evensong, he led the prayers at the conclusion of the office. There were a few pauses along the way, yet even in the silence he was ever the priest, calling us to contemplate the mercy of God.
Deeply moved by this man’s passion for the gospel and his perseverance in prayer, I thought of Simeon, of whom the scriptures say, “He was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him” (Luke 2:25). I thought of how he and Anna rejoiced at the presentation of the Christ Child in the temple, that sacred moment we commemorate as Candlemas on Feb. 2.
As we keep that feast this year, let us give special thanks to God for the Simeons and Annas in our midst, and for all the elderly whose devotion to Christ inspires our own. Pray with me, dear friends, that after their good examples, we may live lives of faith and commitment to Him and His gospel of love and peace. Ω
Archbishop Fred Hiltz is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.