Monday, 18 December 2017

Church and Culture

Yesterday's service concluded our exploration of characters from the Christmas story with a focus on the wise men/magi.  These three travelers were star gazers from Persia who through a combination of astrology and Jewish legend seemed to find their way to the stable.  They represented for me those who come from outside of the Christian community and caused me to think about those in the wider Canadian culture.  We acknowledged that the current culture is increasingly secular, most of whom are neither intrigued nor reactive to the life of church and faith - they are simply indifferent.  We noted that there are a few in our culture, represented by the threatening King Herod, who want to challenge anything Christian and that, in a variety of places around the world, Christians face significant persecution.  The Magi represent the curious and the seekers who show up at our door.  As I explored with folks within the congregation about what draws them to faith and church two answers appeared.  Many are seeking a meaningful community to be a part of and the church has provided a warm welcome.  The other response pointed to the mystical - a sense of something holy, something intuitive, something emotional - that still calls to the human heart.  Church and faith respond to that innate human need.  What draws you to church and faith?  Or perhaps, what keeps you away?  I look forward to your responses.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Well, it's Monday morning and two weeks from today will be Christmas.  Yesterday we continued our look at characters from the Christmas story.  The lesser known  character of Zechariah was chosen because in hearing good news he was struck "mute".  The idea of being made "mute" resonated with me when I considered all the grief, worries and hardships that seem to get pushed under the rug at Christmas time.  Christmas is a time for hope and joy to be sure, but something about the modern Christmas seems to mitigate against people acknowledging their struggles.  Our service was deeply enriched by the words of Dianne Young, a local writer and a member of our church, who spoke about learning the language of grief after her husband's death.  It was a very important message and it is contained in the video from Sunday and elsewhere on the website.  Together we acknowledged that the God of love is different than the idea that God intervenes with good and bad in our lives.  Recognizing God as the Source of Love allows us to see God incarnated amidst our joys and griefs as a gentle tear, a good memory or the hug of a friend.  With these resources we are able to live in the midst of both the celebrations and struggles of the season.  What supports you in the more difficult moments of Christmas?  How do you understand God's presence in those times?  I would love to hear from you.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Yesterday was the second Sunday in which we examined characters from the Christmas story.  It seemed early in the season to be speaking about Mary, but since the focus was on hectic lives Mary stood out as one whose life must have surely been hectic.  Her strong commitment to align herself with God's way gave some insight for our own hectic lives. First was her attitude, which was to see the blessing amidst the busyness.  Attitude can certainly shape life's experience.  It is interesting to note that the Buddha observed that one source of suffering was an endless longing for things to be different.  If we can accept reality but shape our attitude to bring hope out of chaos than we will have transformed the chaos.  The other perspective I discerned was the need to have purpose in life.  Too often we drift through life.  Even the busiest of people can simply be caught up in the flow without being intentional about their choices and activities.  Being clear about one's purpose may be another way to bring order to hectic lives.  I suggested that Jesus had defined a broad purpose - namely to love God, neighbour and self.  While I think this maxim is foundational for Christians, we still have to discern how to implement it in our specific life situations.  I am curious to know if you find life hectic ... and more so at this time of year.  What are your strategies for surviving?  How do you shape your attitude?  Do you have a clear sense of purpose in your life that guides you?  I'd love to hear your response.