“The Church in Exile”

I just read an article in the latest Faith Today magazine that was very interesting.  (See the January/February issue, pp. 32-35.) It talked about the Canadian church being in exile.  At one time, the church of Canada held a prominent place in Canadian culture.  Many people belonged to a local church, and the church extended considerable influence in the community.  But according to Lee Beach, those days are largely over.  Now we are a minority in Canada.  So, how should we respond?  Some have chosen to isolate themselves from the larger culture.  They have decided that it would be best to protect themselves and their children from the “evils” of the world.  I suppose their intent is to be a city on a hill like Jesus talked about in Matthew 5. And there is some validity to this view. But others have chosen to try and engage the culture in meaningful ways, all the while seeking to remain holy and set apart, which I believe is a more fruitful approach.  Actually, when you think about it, we are sort of going back to the early church era in terms of being a minority group in a large pagan (secular) world.  So, we would do well to remember how the early church responded in this time and place.  What did they do?  They gathered regularly for prayer and worship.  They carefully studied God’s Word and received the Sacraments.  They gave generously to those in need.  (See Acts 2.)  And the church grew and extended considerable influence in the world.  Yes, the Canadian church may be in exile, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference in this world as we love God and our neighbors with all of our hearts.  So, let us not hide in fear in these challenging times.  Instead, let us consider ways that we can extend hospitality to our community and world, so they will receive the love of Christ that they so desperately need.

“Principles for Worship from Leviticus 1”

On May 10 I had the privilege of attending the Forge Axiom conference in Red Deer.  The guest teacher, Pastor Cam Roxburgh, spoke about what it means to be missional.  The framework for his discussion was Deuteronomy 6:4-9, where God commands us to love Him with all our hearts, soul and strength.  When it comes to loving God with our hearts, worship surely plays a part.  But interestingly, Pastor Cam took us to Leviticus 1 to discuss worship.  So, here are some of the principles for (missional) worship that we learned about: Worship is about what we bring, including stories of God’s faithfulness.  Worship is about bringing our best to God—whatever that looks like.  Worship is a messy business—things don’t always turn out the way we want.  Worship is multi-sensory and participatory—engagement is important.  Worship is costly—there’s a personal sacrifice involved.  Worship is a drama—the reenactment of God’s story.  Worship is communal.  I found this conversation on missional worship timely, as we’re currently making a few technical changes to our worship ministry.  As we do so, I encourage you all to focus on what’s really important: to keep worshiping the Lord in spirit and in truth, and to keep the mission of Christ central to our being.