Here’s a version of a short piece I wrote some time ago for congregation I serve. It’s probably more relevant now than later . . . .
Not long ago a group of churches and church leaders across the province signed a letter asking the premier to allow churches to reopen at the beginning of the month of June. I did not sign the letter. Continue reading “Why I’m Not in a Hurry to Re-open Church Doors” →
Some time ago a friend explained to me that he had baptized his children at home. This was in the context of an Anglican church, so it wasn’t the baptism of children that was the surprising part. The surprising part was the ‘at-home’ part. I forget exactly why the family chose to do this—it had something to do with work schedules, children not behaving well in public, and a general frustration with the ‘institutional’ church. A parent baptizing a child at home was (and still is) welcomed by some churches in extreme situations, but in our own situation it’s helpful to think a bit about why carrying out practices like baptism or Communion at home is not generally a good idea. Continue reading “Viral Theology #10 – Why We Shouldn’t Celebrate Communion at Home” →
Sunday, May 3 – Reading: Acts 2:42-47
The book of Acts tells us about the early church. Acts is intended to be read as an extension of the story told in the Gospel of Luke. If you would have asked an early Christian how to follow Jesus after the resurrection they would have said, “Come join us and see.” In the minds of those believers there was no such thing as lone-ranger Jesus following. The distinction we sometimes make between spirituality and religion would have made little sense to them. Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, May 3” →
‘Unity’ and ‘diversity’ can simply be words to us—vague values we hope somebody else puts into practice. Or these words can represent the pain of separation or forced uniformity. They can represent actual people and communities and the everyday struggle for connection. Diversity is natural enough. Pairing it with unity is the hard part, and it seems to me that unity is either hard or it is dangerous.
Continue reading “Unity and Diversity – Thoughts for a Church Newsletter Some Months Ago” →
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” →
I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve told someone that our situation seems ‘surreal’ or ‘strange.’ I doubt I’m the only one that finds it hard to shift back and forth between thinking about normal things and thinking about pandemic things. Part of what makes this pandemic so disturbing for many of us is that we don’t have anything comparable in our own experience. Some people have drawn parallels to wars or terrorist attacks. Continue reading “Viral Theology #4 – We haven’t been here before, but Cyprian has” →
I’ve spent the last several days at a national church conference in British Columbia. Sadly, given the location, I only managed to escape the conference centre a few times. One of the terms I heard repeatedly over the weekend (while not getting outside) was “institutional church.”
As in, “The institutional church would do things that way, but I’m different.”
Or, “The institutional church is dying, but thankfully my friends and I have our own thing going.”
Or, “Don’t blame me, I’m only on the fringe of the institutional church.”
What was curious was that this dismissal of the “institutional church” was happening at a gathering organized and funded by the “institutional church.” The justice work many of us celebrated was initiated by the “institutional church.” The place where we advocate for change was in the “institutional church.” The schools that educated many of the conference participants were sponsored by the “institutional church.” The collection of music from which we sang was created by the “institutional church.” The digital projector showing the pictures of the “non-institutional” initiatives was rented by the . . . wait for it . . . “institutional church.” Continue reading “We’re all in Debt – And it’s Not a Bad Thing” →
Last fall the British newspaper The Telegraph ran a piece that highlighted the jobs most at risk from new automation technologies. The news is not good if your livelihood involves data entry, processing photos, preparing taxes, sewing by hand, doing legal research or repairing watches. It isn’t much better if you are a model, credit analyst, insurance appraiser, sports umpire or a bridge/lock tender. What is safe? Well, the good bet seems to be on work like occupational therapy, mental health, audiology, managing disasters and doing front-line repairs and installation of mechanical equipment. I couldn’t find pastor on the list, so my own future is fuzzy. . . . .
[This essay has been published with Missio Alliance here.]
I’ve always liked the way some older translations of the Bible refer to the Holy Spirit as the ‘Holy Ghost’. Ghosts are unpredictable, at least that’s how they’re portrayed. They show up unannounced and unbidden and scare the bejeebers out of someone. Maybe something like that has happened to you–a mysterious bang or bump in the dark of night and suddenly you found yourself believing in ghosts and feeling like you just lost control of the situation. I had a housemate once who had an experience just like that. The trouble for him was that he didn’t believe in ghosts in the daylight. He later put his world back together by diagnosing himself with a vitamin deficiency. I don’t really care if you believe in ghosts or not. It’s this Holy Ghost that the scriptures bring to our attention. Theologically we say that the love of the first two members of the Trinity for each other is so real, so solid, so vibrant, that we can speak of it too as an acting agent, a member of the Triune God—the animating power of the cosmos and the divine Spirit. One of the essential elements to the Christian way of life is the belief that this Spirit dwells in us. That is, Christians believe the Spirit dwells in the community of Jesus’ disciples. Continue reading “Housing the Spirit (125)” →