In 1984 a car arrived at the rectory in Burin, Newfoundland.
Newly ordained deacon Michael Bird, wife Susan and son Michael had travelled over 3,000 kilometres from their Ontario home to his first parish posting.
They did not know what to expect.
Suddenly, the rectory door opened. A group of parishioners hurried out to welcome their new pastor and integrate him and his family into their community.
When Michael returned to Niagara Diocese three years later, no doubt he lamented leaving behind his new found friends in Central Newfoundland Diocese.
Since then he has ministered at St. George’s St. Catharines, St. Paul’s Church Dunnville and the Dunn Parish, St. Cuthbert’s Oakville and St. Luke’s Burlington, before being consecrated and enthroned as the 11th Bishop of Niagara Diocese on March 2, 2008.
Soon he moves to another location and chapter in his life and ministry.
The ebb and flow of ordained ministry involves looking forward to new possibilities, as well as yearning for what is being left behind.
When Moses led God’s people from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land, they complained and hankered for the good old slavery days when they had food to eat and places to sleep.
When God’s people were exiled to Babylon and were asked to sing their traditional songs, they responded (Psalm 137), “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”
Otto Kelland — police officer by profession and songwriter by design — captured these sentiments succinctly when he penned his iconic Newfoundland folksong: Let Me Fish Off Cape St. Mary’s. Check it out!
We all experience similar sentiments associated with hellos and good-byes as we journey from the familiar to the unknown.
Now, as Bishop Michael equips himself for another changeover, perhaps the assurances of these Newfoundland sayings with their Bible complements will help during the transition.
Newfoundland saying: Wait a fair wind and you’ll get on.
Bible complement: It means to watch for and seize every presented opportunity. Paul (Colossians 4:2-5) gave the same advice to the Christians in Colossae. He suggested they should pray for opportunities to preach Jesus’ gospel and make good use of “every opportunity”.
Newfoundland saying: Fair weather to you and snow to your heels.
Bible complement: It means wishing you good fortunes as you travel life’s highway.
Paul’s wish for Timothy (I Timothy 1:2), was “May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy and peace.”
Similarly, we send people from worshipping God to service in the world with the guidance, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”
Newfoundland saying: Fish in summer and fun in winter.
Bible complement: It means everything has its appropriate place and time. The Preacher (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) said it best: “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven,” including tearing down, building up, weeping, laughing, being silent, speaking out, keeping things, throwing things away, loving and hating — all gifts from God.
Newfoundland saying: Long may your big jib draw.
Bible complement: It means wishing you all the best in the future. On his missionary journey, Paul (Acts of the Apostles 21:1-6) arrived in Tyre and stayed a week with the Christian community. When the time came to leave, they gathered on the beach where “we all knelt and prayed”. After bidding farewell, Paul and his companions boarded their ship to continue their voyage and the believers returned to their homes in Tyre.
Bishop Michael, may the power of these Newfoundland and Bible sayings sustain you and yours in the coming days.
The Newfoundland and Labrador flag, Niagara’s vision for ministry and the Niagara Anglican enfold Bishop Michael sitting at his desk in Cathedral Place Hamilton.
Bishop Michael enjoyed this lighter moment at a Bishop’s Company dinner.
Bishop Michael, with the renovated Chancel of Christ’s Church Cathedral as the backdrop, presided at the Bishop’s Eucharist during Holy Week. The service also included the renewal of vows for licenced lay persons and clergy, as well as the blessing of oils. In his message he thanked them for the support and encouragement during his tenure as Bishop of Niagara.