Chasing the Sun

By on December 31, 2023

After moving from Newfoundland to the Kootenays I have tried each day to take a walk with my partner, to see parts of the local area, both within Nelson, and further afield. These days, with autumn light dwindling, and winter approaching, it has become somewhat of a midday sojourn from downtown uphill, chasing the sun before it becomes hidden by the mountains. At this time, as I anticipate Epiphany, I am reminded of the path which the magi journeyed as they followed the star. What opposites! In Scripture we hear of Jesus being shown to the world and how magi journeyed great distances in order to gift him and acknowledge to creation the presence of the divine in human form. In my journeys up the mountain, I reflect on how the church is called to reach out beyond its community and in so doing, has the potential to come face to face with Immanuel.

So often in the life and rhythm of faith communities, I have found that there is an understanding that the church doors are open, and we are just waiting for individuals to follow a path that will lead them to come in, be enthralled, and make their home with us. Epiphany, like the other seasons, is beautiful in the context of our worship, so why wouldn’t folk come, stay with us awhile, and be transformed? All they need to do is experience our worship, view our website, catch our liturgies online, and life will be changed. Perhaps like me, many of you are not hopeful that such an approach will yield favourable results. We prepare worship each week, we publish bulletins and post to websites and social media, yet our doors are not welcoming scores of folk, our social media posts are not going viral.

I submit that perhaps we are looking in the wrong direction. Perhaps instead of expecting our sanctuaries to be filled because we possess a cradle of the Incarnation, we should forge out into the wider community to chase the path of the Son. Samuel Wells, in his book Incarnational Mission, challenges the church to see and experience the Holy One within the wider world.

In order to do this, we must take time, WE must journey to others, and simply be with them. Wells’ work explores how we are called to be with others – lapsed, seekers, of no faith, of other faiths, those that are hostile, and those excluded, with no preset agenda. We are called to simply be among others, be with them, listening and learning, accepting, and loving. As uncomfortable as this may be, it involves us getting outside of our comfort zone and being with others.

In my experience of being with those beyond the church, I have found deep authenticity and meaning. I have sat with those who are vulnerable and hurting, abandoned by family, friends and society. I have sat with social workers and front-line workers who face the challenges of caring for marginalized persons while possessing diminishing resources and safety nets to support their work. In these situations, it is rare that conversations evolve toward the beauty of worship, or the meaning found in a faith journey. The conversations are raw and direct. They speak of injustice, failure of a community to care, lack of resources, lack of forgiveness and love, stigma, trauma, and deep grief. What resonates for them is kindness, responding in justice, regularity of presence, and unconditional love. In fact, it is what all of us long for – what all of us deserve. In being with others outside the church, I have found that the Epiphany of Jesus is in the pain of the world. I chase the sun; I do not follow the star. I find the son in the cracks of conversations among those that we mostly never find in our sanctuaries.

Christ must be cradled, not in stars or fame, or worldly treasure;
“Instead, God chooses those whose hearts hold things that none can measure.

In justice, kindness, love, and peace Christ finds his place and pleasure.”

(John Bell, Look up and Wonder: Mess and Manger © 1992 Iona Community)

Biography: David Burrows

David emigrated to Canada in the 1970’s with his family, living in Nunavut, Nova Scotia, and Ontario, before ordination. During his priesthood he has served faith communities in Southern Ontario, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador. For the last twenty years, David’s ministry has transected the boundary between faith communities and non-profit agencies. In his work he has partnered with the NL Autism Society, dance studios, poverty elimination councils, Safe Harbour Outreach Project (Sex Work Advocacy/Allyship) and End Homelessness, St John’s. This has led to creative charitable projects involving ballroom dancing, motorsports racing, and founding and leading Home Again Furniture Bank David has made it a practice to offer faith based inspirational written reflections consistently as a part of his vocation, through Easter(n) Pilgrims, and now through Mountain Reflections. He has served the church locally, nationally, and internationally, serving notably as Canadian liaison to the Episcopal Church of the United States, and Canadian representative to the Anglican Consultative Council. He enjoys hiking, cycling, and kayaking with his partner Heather, who is introducing him to skiing and life in the beauty of the Kootenays.


  • David Burrows

    The Rev David Burrows is the Incumbent of Kokanee Parish

Skip to content