Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The greatest of these is love

A Reflection on Transition

“The greatest of these is love” 
I Cor. 13 13.

            This week is filled with endings and beginnings as both my sons
will end a chapter in their life only to begin a new one in the fall. My youngest son completes Grade 8 and the older one finishes Grade 12. They will both move to new schools, new challenges and many new opportunities. But it is this week that has been challenging for me. My little boys are not so little anymore! Sure they like to take things apart and put them back together just as they did when they were little but it is also a time when they are preparing for what God has in store for them both. And I am grateful that they believe this too!
            This is what I believe- God is preparing them for what is to come and has been all along. My husband and I are merely coaches as they continue to grow up and find out their abilities and interests. And sometimes the coaching means pushing and sometimes it means just letting things be.
            I am feeling these transitions not because I am getting older, but because I see them taking on ideas for themselves and offering their opinions and their gifts for the sake of others and not needing my hand to shush them, push them or even encourage them. This too is because God showed me how to love others and I learned this from my family. I just pray that this kind of love will continue to be shared.
            Paul wrote in I Corinthians about the ‘most excellent way to live”.  This is a life filled with love. And as we read through this chapter so often shared a weddings and funerals, love is described in many ways and with many attributes—patient, kind, not envy, boast, not proud, not rude not self-seeking, not easily angered; rejoices in the truth, always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres; and never fails.
            Paul describes love in action as a child who talked and though and reasoned as a child. Yet when maturity set in he became a man and put childish ways behind. But the real person he was is but a poor reflection of the whole person he became. A person who loves.
            As the summer begins, I give thanks to God for His love shown to me in Jesus and the ability to share this love with my family and others. This time of transition will continue until the younger son goes to high school  and the older son starts university in September. It is almost like getting ready to start again and they are—new chapters in their life with God leading them.
            Let us remember all those who are graduating and preparing for something new. Let us remember them in prayer and with love and encouragement. Let us rejoice that God will lead them for they are His children.

Holy God we thank you for your love and your willingness to encourage us as we walk into challenges and changes. Show us your way and enable us to reach out to others as we grow and love others as Jesus taught. Be with us as we face these times of transition in this life and always. Amen.

PLEASE NOTE: There will not be a reflection for July 1 and 8. Watch for a new series beginning July 15. 

Friday, 19 June 2015

“The Way Ahead”

“The Way Ahead” 

            Where now is our authority? According to Phyllis Tickle’s
Great Emergence, there is no consensus even though the scriptures present an active, effectuating agent in every part of time and space but the Spirit teaches a believer in revelation and infusion must be honoured as a principal form or source of direction. God Himself cannot be confined to a very old book (p.146) Yet reflecting on this is where the emerging ideas exist. Tickle argues that there is something in between.
            Orthonomy is a kind of ‘correct harmoniousness’ or beauty which is a tool for discerning the truth and therefore the intent and authority. An example is that an emergent will be quick to say the Virgin birth is so beautiful that it has to be true whether it happened or not.
            Theonomy is what is used in contrast to name the priniciple that only God can be the soruce of perfection in action and thought. But how does one best pierce through to His meaning, the bible itself being the only source of authority. (p. 150) Tickle notes that neither of these ideas are sufficient. Yet when asking an emergent Christian where authority lies—in Scripture and the community. The duty, the challenge, the joy and excitement of the Church and for the Christians who are a part of this, is in the discovering what it means to believe that the kingdom of God is within one and in understanding that one is thereby a pulsating, vibrating bit in a much grander network.  The emergent church is- a conversation as it just can not ‘be’
            The theology of the great emergence comes from the revisiting of foundational assumptions of  Christian faith. This ‘revisiting’ will then lead to a theology of society’s reconfigured understanding of the self, the soul, the humanness of being made in the image of God.. Tickle states, “Regardless of what its theology eventually matures into, there is no question that the Great Emergence is the configuration of Christianity which is in ascendency (p.162)
Tickle presents the emerging Christianity as something relating to what is found significant and existing presented in balance with God. This seems simple enough but what if we were striving to go deeper into our feelings, would we dismiss the stories inspired by God or do we look elsewhere in our experiences? Just what do you think is the Great Emergence? How is Christianity changing for you and is this significant for your faith development?

Holy God, we praise you for you are the same no matter what we experience and know—we have faith in you. Help us to understand the role of ‘church’ for us and call us to serve you in this new way of being loved and loving others as Christ taught. Hear these things we ask and we ask that you would answer our prayers in faith and with hope. Amen.

Phyllis Tickle The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books,2008. Chapter 7.

This concludes this series on the Great Emergence. Watch for a new series next week!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

“Behold I make all things New” Rev 21:5

“Behold I make all things New”  Rev 21:5

            ON this date in 1925 a unique event occurred in Mutual Street Arena,
Toronto. The United Church of Canada was born through much work, prayer and an Act of Canadian Parliament. Discussions across the country through the three founding denominations raised unique concerns which led to the formation of a truly Canadian church. The Presbyterian, Congregational and Methodists joined together amidst uncertain times and out of the desire to share the Social Gospel and keep the Good News of Jesus Christ alive in the country which was emerging on its own after World War I.
            Ninety years later we are called to celebrate the Good News of Jesus Christ as a recognized and changing church. We are known for our welcoming of all people, facing difficult issues head on and looking at who Jesus is in light of how we reach out to others.  We are the United Church of Canada and we are facing a time of challenge and change as the support for international ministries declines and the ongoing question of who we are and how we govern/structure ourselves is questioned. Our national gathering will take place in August 2015 where decisions of organizational structures will take place and we will move forward as we work with the Spirit’s guidance.
            As we read of the challenges facing the UCC and in light of Phyllis Tickle’s ideas of an emerging church, we acknowledge that this is what is occurring. A new church which instead of having its unique perspective based on its name, to a gathering of people who like to take on special challenges as they grow in Christ’s Spirit. But how does the emerging church relate to what was done before? How do we know and grow today? What is emerging for us as people of the United Church? These are questions which are not easily answered but through faith we will learn and grow together as a community who loves God and reaches out to others with Christ’s love.

God is calling us to look at who we are in 2015 and into the future. Where we will be 10 years from now is in His hands and His Spirit will lead us to this ‘something new” What emotions or thoughts do you experience as you read about the challenges facing Christian churches today? Are you needing to reflect on your connection to the church today? How might today’s church be made more relevant to you?

Holy God bless our United Church of Canada this day as we celebrate 90 years of being your church focused on Christ and committed to serving you. Guide us into our future through your Spirit’s grace and hope. We ask in the name of  Christ. Amen.

Phyllis Tickle The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books,2008. Chapter 6