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.


  1. Your sermon last Sunday has struck a cord Brian. Why am I drawn to a church versus, for instance, a service club where I could also fulfill that desire to get involved in a new community. Your sermon mentions the "mystical" as a difference maker in that draw to a church community. This is totally applicable to my situation. But I am now trying to grapple with defining "mystical" as it applies to my situation. This will take some work on my part though.......I have the time now !

  2. I, too, found nuggets to chew on from your well crafted sermon on Sunday. And, we at St. Martin's DO KNOW we have "the golden tongued orator of the UCC" among us :o))

    Anyway - back to my point, I would like to have heard you say more about the contemporary Herods, who are trying to Christ out of Christmas. I've regarded the replacement of Merry Christmas on buses and such to Happy Holidays as a weak but well meaning way of moving toward inclusivity. The numbers of non-Christians are growing in Canada and we see this happening in our fair city as well. I have not regarded this move as a way to denounce or repress Christ but an acknowledgement that other faiths, though forced to "rejoice" in Christian holidays (systemic through employment, civic celebrations, etc) do not share the same Holy stories. I take it that you view this as a challenge to Christianity - a way to silence those who would align with the radical views Christ preached and demonstrated? This is such good fodder for discussion!! Whoever though of you starting a blog must have been brilliant LOL! Bette Brazier

  3. Thanks for your comments Doug for you are an inspiration to me. I live with my own questions and doubts about things mystical yet I cannot turn away from this pull in my life. When others find their way into the church it suggests that there is something "more" in life to pursue and that we might cautiously journey together in our explorations. Glad you can join the Conversations group.

    Bette - good for you in catching my little grumpiness about the anti-Christian sentiment in the current culture. As I acknowledge, there is lots that the church has done wrong over the centuries but there are also things the church has done right and some of the 'nay-sayers' seem to negate the latter. I fully support diversity and pluralism and certainly see the "imperial" danger of forcing our religious views on others. In fact it is interesting to think how we would celebrate our traditions if they didn't have implied cultural endorsements. I don't know if we would arrange work so we could worship the way most Muslims do on Fridays or persist with Sabbath observance the way devout Jews do each Saturday. Ironically cultural endorsement might weaken our commitment! Lots more to discuss in this area.