Viral Theology # 11 – We are Not Pixelated Figments

There is a strange thought floating about in the ether. It’s the idea that the current upsurge in online work and online connection means that physical proximity and embodied being are a thing of the past. In church circles a few lines from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians have gotten a lot of attention on this account. Paul writes “[W]e were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face. For we wanted to come to you . . . but Satan blocked our way” (I Thess. 1:17). The letter of I Thessalonians is the result of that inability to be together, so separation is a good thing, right? It prompts technological ‘innovation’ and, in the biblical case, even an addition to the Bible. Isn’t it great that every little faith community is now doing church online! Surely they are following Paul’s example. Continue reading “Viral Theology # 11 – We are Not Pixelated Figments”

Viral Theology #7 – Still Connected

The news from Canadian sources today is that young people have been a key vector for the spread of COVID-19. In this case that means those under 40. That’s troubling. The other bit of significant news is that some government models suggest the social isolation requirements might need to be in place until July. Exactly which requirements is not clear, but it would seem likely that corporate church gatherings are off the table for not just weeks but months. This has lots of implications, but one is that we need to recover the Christian teaching about the “communion of saints.”

Continue reading “Viral Theology #7 – Still Connected”

Viral Theology #6 – Hoping We Don’t Return to ‘Normal’

My boys and I went for a walk today. It was ‘recess’ for them and a break from posture-killing laptop work for me. As we passed another family on a narrow path, all of us did the awkward slalom/edge-to-the-side maneuver to preserve those essential two meters. Will we ever get back to normal? Normal is no longer underrated. Most of us would like a bit of normal. Continue reading “Viral Theology #6 – Hoping We Don’t Return to ‘Normal’”

Worship for Sunday, March 22 – A Liturgy for Households

Worship is not something we watch or consume. It is something we do. What follows is a worship guide for use on your own or with a household. Here are a few pro tips as you begin:

  • Load the music links before you start to get the commercials out of the way.
  • Turn off your phone and close the news tabs you have open on your laptop.
  • Light a candle as a symbol of God’s presence.
  • Observe a few moments of silence before you begin.

Continue reading “Worship for Sunday, March 22 – A Liturgy for Households”

Viral Theology #3 – Finding Space for Prayer (brought to you this week by ‘social distancing’)

Like many people around the globe I’m trying to use this period of social distancing to get some things done around the house. Today the task was getting my son’s winter glove off the roof. Please don’t ask for details. The details aren’t helpful. With that safely done (and the neighbours properly puzzled), it’s time to turn once again to viral theology. Continue reading “Viral Theology #3 – Finding Space for Prayer (brought to you this week by ‘social distancing’)”

Ecotheology and the Burning of the Earth with Steven Bouma-Prediger

It is surprising to look inside the cover of the first edition of For the Beauty of the Earth, and see a publication date of 2001.* The book, written by Steven Bouma-Prediger, is almost twenty years old, yet it reads like a fresh and relevant treatment of the subject. It’s particularly well-pitched to engage those interested in what the Bible has to say about environmental ethics. The writing here is clear and direct, intended to persuade and teach. Continue reading “Ecotheology and the Burning of the Earth with Steven Bouma-Prediger”

Division, Wisdom, Christ Crucified—A February Sermon

Paul wrote the letter we know as I Corinthians to deal with divisions in that community. There were many sources of division there. One was related to leadership. Some said they followed Paul. Some said they followed Peter. Some said they followed Apollos. And some tried to trump everyone else, by saying “I just follow Jesus.”

Paul responds to them all by saying something like: “Come on. Get it together. Was I crucified for you? Was Apollos? Where you baptized in my name? I’m glad I didn’t baptize any of you, so you can’t get confused about where your loyalties lie.”

Then Paul seems to think for a moment before continuing. “Well, okay, I did baptize Crispus and Gaius. But still, it’s Jesus who is your true leader.” Continue reading “Division, Wisdom, Christ Crucified—A February Sermon”

What Makes an Anabaptist an Anabaptist?

There was a time when various Christian networks or denominations liked to talk about what distinguished them from others. Arguments were had over minutia of doctrine and practice. This still happens in some places, but for many of us it has now become much more important to look at commonalities than differences. In that earlier era, though, Anabaptist writers published a flurry of books and articles trying to sum up an Anabaptist approach to the Christian faith in nice, easy lists. The push was to develop the shortest set of teachable points that somehow could speak to core issues that distinguished this segment of the Christian family from others. You can probably tell that I’m not much taken with these projects anymore. Having said that, I do know we all like lists, so below is an extract from a sermon that is my cut at listing Anabaptist distinctives. Or, put another way, these are gifts Anabaptist Christians bring to the larger family of faith: Continue reading “What Makes an Anabaptist an Anabaptist?”

Churches, Forests, Restoration

One of the places my family and I like to go on a Saturday is a nearby ‘natural’ area known as Forêt Larose. At 11,000 hectares, this is one of the largest community-managed forests in Ontario. We enjoy the trails; skiing and snowshoeing them when there’s snow, hiking and biking them when there isn’t. What I appreciate most about this forest, though, is its story. In the nineteenth century, this part of the province was aggressively logged. Then it was farmed—or at least farming was attempted.

The sandy soil wasn’t productive and by the beginning of the twentieth century, the area became known locally as the Bourget Desert. In the 1920s, a local agricultural representative named Ferdinand Larose began a campaign to have the area replanted with trees. One of the goals was to create sustainable, local jobs. Today the place is forested well enough to draw hikers, mountain bikers, and hunters. On winter weekends, visitors can even hear the rowdy barks of sled dogs. And yes, the forest can now support some careful logging. Continue reading “Churches, Forests, Restoration”