Archive for October, 2015

I am often asked why there are so many denominations if there is only one God. It’s not an easy question to answer. I suspect there are so many denominations, in part, because of national churches such as the Church of England (Anglican), the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) etc., I also suspect it is in part because of disagreements between congregation members and the desire to be part of something that more fully reflects their specific beliefs.

I was asked recently by a young friend if Christianity would ever go back to being just Christianity; no separators, denominations or branches. After a time of thought, prayer and reflection I realised that it will likely never happen. And that saddens me.

It also saddens me that there are people who call themselves “Christian” but engage in extremely non-Christian behaviour. Christians who believe that they have all the answers, that the Bible is to be taken literally and then cherry-pick verses of the sacred story to be used as weapons. To me, that is not Christianity. To me, that is not what Jesus was about.

It is also worth mentioning that Jesus was not a Christian. He was a Jew who wanted the community to move away from their anxiety about keeping the law and move towards loving their neighbour. While I don’t know for certain, I suspect if Jesus could speak directly with us today he would be saddened by what he sees. I suspect the same of Peter. Peter was called the “rock” or the foundation for the Church. He tried to bring reforms about so that we could focus at being “in relationship” with each other instead of passing judgment and fearing the stranger. Novel idea, eh?

Many of us are familiar with the ten commandments. A list of rules, given to Moses from Mount Zion that were meant to show the community at the time how to live together peacefully. Moses brought the tablets down after spending time with God and discovered that the people had panicked that he was gone and had made a golden calf; directly in violation of one of the earliest commandments. In frustration Moses slammed down the tablets and broke them. So he had to go back to God and get another set.

The second set of tablets were put in a special place and we will often see the ten commandments painted in frescoes in the Church, or on a poster or post card. We may see them rendered in Hebrew, Greek, English or any other language. And for many of us ten commandments are too many to try and keep. It’s too much pressure.

Jesus grew up knowing this commandments and knowing the Levitical laws. Many of those laws were written for specifically the time in which they were written and no longer apply to the society of today. Jesus summarized these ten commandments into two: Love God above all else and love your neighbour as yourself. Nowhere does it say to vilify, hate and judge your neighbour. Nowhere does it say to discriminate against your neighbour. Jesus is about love. Plain and simple.

Except it’s not. Not even a little bit.

We can love our neighbour that looks like us, talks like us, thinks like us. But what about our drug-addicted neighbour? Our homeless neighbour? Our mentally or physically ill neighbour? What about the neighbour who hates us? What do we do about them?

We are entering the season of remembrance and the symbol of the poppy is one of the most poignant symbols around the world. It gives us a symbol to remind us of the horrors of war so we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. It gives us an opportunity to gather and remember those who laid down their lives, that we may know peace. It gives us the opportunity to give thanks to those who continue to fight for the voiceless, providing safety and security around the world.

I’m tired of denominational infighting. I’m tired of having to apologise for being a Christian because a few, radical, angry people have appropriated the word Christian and made it frightening.

It’s time to stand up, as Christians and say “Enough is enough”. It’s time for us to stand shoulder to shoulder, side by side and say Christianity is about love – first and foremost – it’s about love.

I truly believe THAT is what Jesus would do.

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I got back yesterday after two glorious weeks away.  I went to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, a small town called Tobermory. While I was there I visited places I had visited before, as a student 10 years ago.  I hiked trails, walked through town, ate in local eateries, cooked meals at the cottage where I stayed.

The first Sunday I was there I preached and celebrated at St. Edmund’s in Tobermory and then later that night I preached at St. Margaret’s at Cape Chin.  It was a remarkable experience and I enjoyed it immensely.  I walked to the lighthouse from the cottage.  It was an hour’s walk.  I hiked part of the Bruce Trail and part of the Lindsay Tract Trail.  Both challenging in their own way.

Two weeks away was just enough time to disengage from the frantic pace of parish life.  And driving home my phone started ringing.  Thankfully I have Bluetooth technology so was able to screen and answer calls hands-free.  And by the time I drove the four hours home, I felt immersed in Church life once again.

While I was away Canada elected a new Prime Minister.  The Blue Jays won their division.  The winds shifted and the temperatures were very mild.  Every day I walked in awe at the majesty of creation.  Truly God was with me, with every step I took, every place I stopped, every crisp breath I inhaled.  And it was good.

Tomorrow’s gospel is blind Bart.  He doesn’t ask Jesus to heal him, but to have mercy on him.  There is a lot to reflect on in that passage.  So much about our blindness.  About our faith, or lack thereof.

This week I’m heading to Walpole Island for an annual service of healing.  I’m looking forward to it.

Next week is our Annual All Soul’s Service.  A moving and emotional service, but also something I look forward to.

I’ve been remiss in writing lately as life has been crazy.  My plan is to journal more frequently, with  more observations of a crazy and awesome world.

Stay tuned!

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