A Christian Response on Stress Street

An article this week in the Hamilton Spectator reminded readers that one particular tower block near our church has an average life expectancy of 57; in line with the 15 poorest performing countries in the entire world.  (https://projects.thespec.io/codered10)

I wrote on social media, “Yo Hamilton region Christians and those interested – here is an address I have preached on three times in the last year. From this week’s Spec Code Red update: “That would rank Vanier Towers among the 15 worst countries in the world for life expectancy, worse than Mali, the violent west African nation that is the second-poorest country of all.” What does it mean that there is a/are Christian Churches within 500m of this facility? Life expectancy of 57, among 15 worse countries in the world! 500m from where Christians worship and do things. Would love a conversation on what this truly means for us.”

I am told by people who live in the Towers, it is called <address #> Stress Street.

But I wonder for Central Presbyterian if God is calling us to more intentionally respond.  Some thoughts on it that have stayed with me are:

  • how relationships are important and part of the Christian witness;  and how we are all transformed in and through relationships
  • the importance of eating together with others
  • Central’s current HOOTC and Spring BBQ which are food based ministries in the neighbourhood
  • what would a cafe/hub look like at Central?
  • what would a weekly community dinner look like at Central?
  • what would having an open lunch every Sunday after church look like, and intentionally inviting friends from Vanier Towers?
  • what would a monthly potluck team look like, dropping off and eating lunch together in the shared space at Vanier Towers?
  • what would a longer conversations with the 10-15 people some of us already know and have relationships with from the Towers, reveal?
  • what it mean to focus more or most of our ministries in this direction?
  • what would it mean for our space?
  • what funds are available for application to ensure a sustained approach to this?
  • what would happen if I or others started popping over there once and while to meet more people?

OK – ideas.  Thank you for listening, praying and continuing the conversation.

Pastor – Greg Davidson




Christmas Eve Candle

This last Christmas at 8 p.m. at Central we all lit candles and sang Silent Night.  I am always careful to announce clearly at the beginning of the service for people to light their candles (and nothing else) then blow them out after the hymn is finished.  It is beautiful moment.  The glow of the candle light on Christmas Eve, the voices of a congregtion singing the carol.

This particular year, I had met a family just arrived in Canada a few weeks earlier, and they had come for the service.  Brand new to Canada, from a country of another language and climate and culture.  And here they were Christmas Eve.  One member was a child of about 10.  When Silent night began, we all lit our candles; when it was over we blew them and continued to the end of the service.

As I walked to the back after the benediction, something caught my eye.

Everyone had put down their candles, blown-out, resting on pews.  But as I walked by this 10 year-old, new to Canada, they sat in the pew with their candle still lit, staring into it.  The candle light reflected on their face.  It was a moment when I wanted to stop, and say something – like welcome to Canada, or Merry Christmas the Lord bless you.

But I didn’t stop; there was this simply look in their eyes – that it was a holy moment.  One in which I am glad she lingered.

“Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.'” Exodus 3:5