News & Notes Vol 13 No. 13

Of Prayer and Many Other Things

Dear friends,
I had two very exciting experiences of public prayer in the last two weeks.  They were so poignant and meaningful to me that I thought I would share them.
The first was at the Provincial Leadership Prayer Breakfast in British Columbia.  I have experienced several Prayer Breakfasts in the past; the first at the age of 20 at the American National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC.  I’ve been to Ottawa at the National Prayer Breakfast in Canada and in Calgary at that Prayer Breakfast and this one in Vancouver.  The quite unplanned and seemingly spontaneous or spirit prompted (which might be more appropriate) theme of the Provincial Prayer Breakfast in Vancouver was that of hope and hopefulness. Many of the speakers spoke of being in desperate need to call out to God in times of personal need or comfort.  The theme was quite powerfully engaged.  It ran the gamut of people speaking of their conversion story of coming to Christ for the first time, and also of praying for the sick and the wounded, or the faraway, or just in moments, vocationally or personally, in which they were extremely anxious and worried.
There is a particular prayer that is used at the National Prayer Breakfast in Ottawa, and at other Breakfasts including the recent one in Vancouver.  It speaks of the “spirit of Jesus” but is not explicitly, or in a way I would prefer, clearly Christian yet, it is placed in the spirit of Jesus and the context of the Christian faith.  Regardless of that it is a powerful prayer in so many ways.  As a Christian I, both at the beginning and end of it, silently pray to myself these things in Christ’s name.  The first is that prayer.
The second prayer is one that was spoken by a young woman at Southwest Community Church in Kamloops which I found particularly gripping, relevant, and personally encouraging.  I thank Libby for her willingness to allow me to share this with you.
The final prayer is taken out of the “Gathering for Worship” book.  It talks about Christ coming to make things new.  I pray that as we continue in the Lenten series and season and as we pray for those who do not yet know Christ we will in fact be called to see that Christ is making all things new.
Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy
 
A Prayer for the Province (BC Leadership Prayer Breakfast):
Almighty God, we once before you in prayer, in the spirit of Jesus, for the leadership of British Columbia and Canada.  We declare our need of you and pause this morning to give you thanks.
We thank you for blessing us with a free country, a rich diversity of people, abundant natural resources and a beautiful environment.  We pray that as leaders we will be wise managers and good stewards of all that your hands have provided.
We pray for our nation and our world.  Lord, where there is division, conflict, bitterness and hatred, both in this country and abroad, may you bring your wisdom, justice and healing.  Where we have been party to this division, conflict, bitterness, and hatred, we ask for your forgiveness and reconciliation.
We pray that you might give wisdom and discernment to all those who govern and administer our country, our province, our towns and cities.  Give wisdom and discernment also to those who are in Opposition.  We pray that all may be men and women who, themselves, are led by you; who do not seek prestige but service, and set the good of the community above the good of any individual or group.
We pray for all people who work, study or volunteer in this province.  We pray that we might use our faith, skills and resources to correct iniquities, bring hope, and work toward justice and righteousness.
Help us to be worthy of the inheritance that we have received from you through our First Nations and ancestors.  May we protect all that we share, so that we may pass on an even finer province to those who will inherit it from us.
May we lay aside all private interests and prejudices.  Unite us in all our diversity under your sovereign rule, to love you and to love others.  May all who are called to serve as leaders throughout British Columbia have the courage to lead us in truth, peace, and humility.  Strengthen us all, we pray in the name of our Blessed Creator, Provider, and Sustainer.  Amen.
 
This is the prayer spoken at Southwest Community Church Sunday morning service on March 26th:
Beloved Lord and Saviour,
We bow our hearts to you, the one who is seated far above the rest, you are worthy of the praises we sing today and for the rest of eternity. Messiah, we want your kingdom come, we pray in earnest that your rule would be over all situations around the world. We lift up the attacks in the UK, may your peace be a healing and soothing balm over the many wounds, may your sovereignty reign in all forms of government and leadership, and may your sense of justice prevail over our own. It’s easy to see where your reign is necessary around the world, yet in our own hearts, we find it difficult to relinquish power, claiming we do a good enough job as leader of our lives. We have a prepared list of reasons why we’re good at being in control. We can be like the Israelites, wanting to go back to Egypt even after witnessing your divine guidance through the Red Sea. Father, you have shown us your worthiness, may we put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature since we have taken off the old self with its practices and put on a new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator. Jesus, you are described as the one who fulfills everything in everyway, and may we honour you as such, may we obey your teachings, and love our brothers and sisters. May we hold our control in open and joyful hands. We invite your will to be done, and we do so with hopeful hearts, knowing that you are the Good Shepard and will not lead us astray. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen. 
 
Gathering for Worship: Opening Sentences for the Lord’s Supper:
 
Among the poor,
among the proud,
among the persecuted,
among the privileged,
Christ is coming to make all things new.
 
In the private house,
in the public place,
in the wedding feast,
in the judgement hall,
Christ is coming to make all things new.
 
With a gentle touch,
with an angry word,
with a clear conscience,
with burning love,
Christ is coming to make all things new.
 
That the kingdom might come,
that the world might believe,
that the powerful might stumble,
that the hidden might be seen,
Christ is coming to make all things new.
 
Within us, without us,
behind us, before us,
in this place, in every place,
for this time, for all time,
Christ is coming to make all things new.

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 12

Transitions & Thankfulness.

Dear friends,
In the first newsletter of this month I outlined some major changes that were unfolding at the CBWC.  What I was not free to speak to at that time was that Bob Webber will be transitioning out of his role as Director of Ministries.  Bob and his wife Faye have been active and involved in Baptist family life for years.  Bob grew up in First Baptist Calgary, AB.  His first job after university was as Director of Gull lake Camp in Alberta.  I have worked with Bob for over 8 years and found him to be so committed to his Lord, his church, his family, and this larger CBWC family that he has given his energy, time, wisdom, and great good laughter as gifts to us all.  Personally, I am very appreciative of Bob’s commitment to the local church and the enrichment and energy he brought to the Executive Staff, the Camp Committee, the CBWC Foundation, the Finance Committee, and the CBWC Board.  Thank you, Bob, very much for your deep commitment and long service which will continue in a variety of forms for many years to come.
Related to the theme of roles, every 2 or 3 years we publish a set of Organizational Charts which help people put names to faces in the work we do together.  The leadership of the denomination is clearly from the Executive of our Board (shown below).

A final comment… I have heard some comment that yet again an Executive Minister is located on the West Coast  or “Left Coast” (unflatteringly and inaccurately called, given our Provincial Government).  I have heard a comment that the majority of staff are in the Lower Mainland in British Columbia.  5 out of 8 Executive Staff are in Alberta; 2 (including our new Executive Minister, Rob Ogilvie) are in British Columbia; and 1 (Mark Doerksen) is in the Heartland.  There is a considerable balance of influence and engagement given that the CBWC Foundation is based in Calgary as well as the Ambrose Undergraduate Initiative, and 2 of our camps.  All these things suggest a broad dispersal of resources and personnel.. We are striving to be very conscious that our governance, staff, and ministries are cognizant of geographic diversity and ministry experience.

Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy

News from the Family: Please pray for Louanne Haugan as we shift to a new benefits system and join with the other Canadian Baptist denominations in caring for our staff.

Quote of the Week: From a poem by August Wilson:
When the sins of our fathers visit us
We do not have to play host.
We can banish them with forgiveness
As God, in His Largeness and Laws.

 

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 11

Balancing Between Extremes

Dear friends,
Today’s newsletter is a devotional and reflection on contrasting choices we are faced with I trust that it is helpful and meaningful. It tends not to be a newsy newsletter but a more reflective and indeed theological and practical newsletter this week. Thanks for your patience. God be with you.

I am constantly being surprised and perplexed by the “either/or” thinking that is used to discuss complicated topics. Take for example the simple notions about evangelism. Charles Haddon Spurgeon once remarked that he was a Calvinist on his knees and an Armenian on his feet. That is to say he prayed God’s will in desiring that God would turn people’s hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet while he was preaching he believed that with passion he could persuade that the spirit had one part of the conversion narrative to accomplish and that his own willingness to share had the other part. What Spurgeon was practicing was not commonly referred to as a balanced approach but indeed holding two very different yet complementary things in tension. Life is very much like that. Jesus often spoke in metaphor and indeed hyperbole. His own disciples were often confused as to what his message or point was; particularly in the parables.

Charles Simeon, an Anglican Evangelical from the 19th century, was famous for his comment that the truth of any topic was not in the middle of two extremes but in fact in both extremes. That sounds awkward but it’s not. Think back to the comment we just made about Charles Haddon Spurgeon: a Calvinist on his knees and an Armenian on his feet. Simeon is right in far more areas of life that we would like to think. The practice of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the advice of Charles Simeon, and in fact our wisdom from the ages and from elders must give us pause to think. They are thinking. Indeed, the behavior that followed their thinking if you read their history and ministry has a great deal of application today: from the areas of church life, personal prayer, and devotional life to the public realm in good governance and to the political battles that are waged in all parts of the world.

Since we are so near the time of the inauguration in the United States it is interesting to note how Harry Truman chose scriptures from two parts of the Bible for his inauguration. He had in fact 2 Bibles open to him and laid his hands on each; 1 was open to the 10 Commandments and the other was open to the Beatitudes. I think it’s obvious on 1 level the contrast between those 2 passages. Yet there is this complementary nature of what God expects of us and how he also in his call to holiness and piety from the 10 Commandments calls us to that deeper meaning of life, compassion, and humility in the Beatitudes. I would draw us and our attention to that wonderful sermon in the final verses of the Beatitudes:

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:13-16
(And the 10 Commandments: Exodus 20:1-17)
 
We are all called to be salt and light. You know the depth and meaning of those phrases.  I indeed find that to be a prophetic and passionate call from Jesus to be that which preserves and gives flavor. Furthermore, without salt there is no long-term viability of life. In addition, without light, not simply in the natural order of things (the photosynthesis of the sun which gives us the basic building blocks for life itself) but in Jesus this gift of life and light that comes to us… without him there is indeed no life.

“All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” John 1:3-9
 
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”” John 14:6-7
 
Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy

Quote of the Week:  Martin Luther King Jr: “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk then by all means start moving.”

News from the Family: Please pray for Sam Breakey and team in the church health and renewal work, and for the renewal that they are seeking in the life of our churches. For those churches currently being encouraged by this process, pray especially that the Holy Spirit would help people discern where the church is presently at and what future steps they should be undertaking in the power of the Spirit to see new things happen and God’s powerful presence in their lives flourish.

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 10

Baptist World Alliance Statement on Refugees

Dear friends,

I am at the meetings of the Executive of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) held in Falls Church in Washington, DC.  What a tumultuous time to be meeting as the international Baptist family!  It is also so very much worth remembering that today is International Women’s Day (one day there should be an International Men’s Day although many believe that we have enough of those anyway…lol).  Coincidentally, the story of a young woman from Nigeria was shared this morning by Elijah Brown, the new General Secretary of the North American Baptist Fellowship.  Nigeria is home to 2 of the 5 most lethal terrorist groups in the world.  It is 2nd only to Syria in the number of internally displaced people.  The story of the young woman this morning was of her and her family being displaced by Boko Haram.  Her whole family was in a displaced persons camp.  Her parents decided to try and go back to the farm they had abandoned but they left this young woman of 16 in charge of her 3 younger brothers.  Elijah Brown asked her what she wanted to do when she grew up and what her name was.  She said she wanted to be a doctor.  She said she went to church because she knew only Jesus could save her.  She had the most difficult time caring for her 3 younger siblings with so few resources.  Her name, by the way, her name, she said, was Mighty.  “Would you spell your name for me?” said Elijah upon hearing it.  And she repeated, “Mighty”, to which Elijah said, and maybe all of us should say, “You have lived you name. Yes, mighty indeed.”

Please find below the BWA Declaration on Refugees released in February this year:

A Baptist World Alliance statement on refugees

Created: Friday, 03 February, 2017

“The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) reaffirms its biblical stance concerning refugees, vulnerable people who are oftentimes victimized for their faith.

In a resolution approved by its General Council in Vancouver, Canada, in July 2016, the BWA calls upon its “member bodies, affiliated churches, and individual believers to actively embrace opportunities for Christian ministry and witness that exemplify the biblical teaching to love the stranger (Lev. 19:18b) and Jesus’ teaching to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40), being salt and light in ways that bring the values of our Lord into our culture.”

The resolution further encourages Christian believers “to personally engage with all refugees and displaced persons, generously showing God’s love and care as we demonstrate the sufficiency of God made known through Jesus Christ.”

In light of this resolution passed a little more than six months ago and previous resolutions in 2011 and 2013, the BWA decries recent actions by the United States Government to issue a blanket travel ban on seven countries that specifically targets refugees and that seems to especially affect Muslims.

These actions are already having a negative impact on the lives of families. It has adversely affected service providers who work directly with refugees and has created unexpected difficulties for Baptist institutions in the United States, such as universities and seminaries, with students enrolled from the seven named countries.

While the BWA recognizes that a government has a right to create and maintain conditions that provide for the safety of its citizens, there is a temptation to give in to fear and to hastily pursue misguided policies that will have deleterious long-term effects and that undermine freedom of religion.

We accept this is not a situation that has emerged quickly and is in part a response to longstanding problems in these seven countries. We decry unjust actions that are too often left unaddressed and conditions that are allowed to deteriorate.

We note that in Iraq, Christians, Yazidis and others face genocide at the hands of the Islamic State. Over the last decade, the Christian population in Iraq has shrunk from 1.5 million to less than 200,000.

In Yemen, a Global Alert from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network indicates that Yemen is at risk of the highest level of food insecurity.

Syria is one of the most complex conflicts and humanitarian situations in our world that has devastated the country, which faces a future of trauma and rebuilding.

Baptists, fellow Christians and all people of goodwill should work to reverse conditions that lead to displacement in these and other countries and for peace, harmony and justice to prevail.

The BWA commends Baptists in countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Germany, Sweden, Croatia, Serbia and elsewhere, who have embodied the biblical mandate to stand with the vulnerable and to extend Christian hospitality. We support Baptists in the United States who offer welcome and provide assistance.”

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

Quote of the Week:  The European Baptist Federation represents about 825,000 people. Turkish Baptist churches are applying to be received into the BWA family and 1 of them is in a small town (for various reasons nameless for now) for which there is no other Christian church of any description within 2-3 hours drive, not 1 church.

News from the Family: Some of our camps are preparing for weeks that are already fully booked.  Pray to the Lord not just to bring campers but that the Holy Spirit might prepare them to meet Christ anew.

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 9

A time of prayer and transitions

Dear friends,

There is a well-known Chinese expression (or general expression from Asia) that says we live in interesting times. It is indeed true in the family of churches called the CBWC. It is often been said that change is seen as loss and that loss needs to be grieved. I would beg to differ for I feel that the changes we are engaged in in the CBWC are exciting, encouraging, and dynamically led by the Holy Spirit. I recall an annual meeting I once attended that began with a quote from Charles Dickens. The quote was the opening line of a Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times and it was the worst of times”…. I think that the current opportunities and challenges that are available to us as a family have given us the chance of a generation to see God’s activity amongst us and through us in the service of the Gospel in Western Canada.

Let’s begin our time together this week by recapping our 2 previous newsletters. We have been encouraging each other to ask two simple questions. First of all, Lord make yourself known to me and secondly, if it be your will make yourself known to others through me. We have also asked one another whether there are particular people to whom we could speak of this new life in Christ as the season of Lent begins and we all turn our hearts and minds towards Easter and the resurrection story. We pray and trust that this resurrection story might be personal and real for the many whom we are privileged and have the opportunity to pray for. I have reflected on whom I will pray for and have in my heart and mind 3 or 4 names, I trust you will find this experience meaningful to you as well.

  • Please pray for our new Executive Minister Mr. Rob Ogilvie as he prepares to transition well from the BCY regional position. He will probably end his work in BCY in May and pick up the orientation part of his new work in June. He will be overlapping with me for that month.
  • Please also pray for Dawn Johannesson, the BCY regional office administrator, and the BCY regional advisory group as they experience the transition of Rob and also anticipate a new BCY regional minister.
  • Please pray for Kayely Rich and the search committee looking for the new BC regional minister.
  • Please pray for Laura Nelson, our president, as she finishes her term and leads us, along with Kayely Rich and the organizing committee, for The Gathering at the end of May.
  • Pray for Louanne Haugan as she creates her own development team.
  • I would ask your prayers in my own transition and so that I might discern well how to use the break for reflection and Sabbath with my wife Kerry.

 Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 8

An Introduction to an Introduction to Easter – Part 2

Dear friends,

We have been looking at what it is like to prepare for Lent. We have explained the advantages of doing that both for our own sakes, our own way of remembering, and in preparing for Easter but, also very much so that we might share in this season with other Canadians who are familiar with the passages of Scripture, the Lenten readings, and the preparation for Easter in their own traditions. I think it most important and always possible to use what God has given us as entry points for discussion and prayer for ourselves and others.

In this vein, Jill Schuler and I recommend these resources: a short article and a video that lay out the Christian calendar and the place of Lent within it.

http://www.thirdrva.org/blog/telling-time-differently-as-christ-followers

https://vimeo.com/79923336

On another track, 1 of the passages and narratives that was most significant to me as a late teen was a simple correspondence between John Wesley, the great evangelist, and William Law, a theologian and Christian thinker of his day. John Wesley became a Christian in later life and was dismayed that many Christians that he knew had not, as he put it, “pressed upon him the Lordship of Christ.” He picked up this angst and concern with former mentor William Law. He asked Law why he had not introduced John Wesley to the person and work of Jesus Christ, and in a rather condemnatory and accusatory way suggested to William Law that maybe he had not pressed the Lordship of Christ because he did not know this relationship, this Christ, himself. I’m not suggesting that we should write or receive any such brutal admonishment ourselves but I am suggesting that there are many around us who either do not know Christ, or are interested in learning more about him, that would benefit from a conversation with us.

I would suggest 3 very simple things. The 1st is that we might say to the Lord, “Lord make yourself known to me so that in being filled up with your presence and in the moving of the Holy Spirit I may be open to others.” I’m also suggesting that we might have a 2nd prayer: “Lord if it be your will might you use me to share you with others.” I would suggest and request a 3rd thing; something that I am in the process of framing and practicing myself. The 3rd suggestion is after these 2 initial prayers that we would be prompted by the Spirit to write down 3 or 4 names of people that we believe we might be led to (or open to being led) to having conversations about Jesus. I would suggest that we begin praying for those people on a daily basis with an expectation that through this Lenten season and in preparation for Easter there might be an opportunity for us… there might be a hunger in them… there might be a passion for us that friends and family and those we know might be open to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, that this Lenten and Easter season might be a time when they come to know him. That we might pray these things in Christ’s powerful name. Amen.

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

Quote of the Week:  William Churchill regarding Sir Stafford Cripps, “There but for the grace of God goes God.”  Since we are on this topic I suspect that he also said to Sir Stafford “there is a self-made man who worships his creator.”  I know that many of you who are Churchill experts will find flaws in my quotes but there you go.

News from the Family: The Carey Board Meeting is coming up on March 11.  Please pray for the school.  In addition, please pray for Rod Olson as he prepares to teach classes at Ambrose this late Spring and develops relationships around the student body.

 

LaVerne Louise Waldock

The Reverend LaVerne Louise Waldock (nee Lofgren) passed away peacefully on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 in Calgary, AB. She was born September 30, 1932 in San Jose, California and lived a full life in the USA, Canada, India, France, Zaire, Kenya, and Sri Lanka. Her career included teaching, ministering, cataloguing an academic library, and establishing programs to assist women in developing countries. She is dearly loved and will be sorely missed by her husband (Ray Waldock of 65 years), her children (Elizabeth, Deborah, and David), her 8 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren. A Memorial Service was held at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Calgary on Monday, February 13, 2017.

 

Martha Agnes Easter

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Martha Agnes Easter (nee Worthy) on January 9, 2017. Martha was born in Shaunavon, SK on November 4, 1935 and was the youngest of 4 children. She is survived by her husband (John) and 3 children (Martha Jean, Ian, and Elizabeth). Martha and John ministered in Nigeria and later were posted as CBM missionaries to India where they lived for 19 years. She was involved in the international school as dorm parent, teacher, nurse, bible study leader, and musician. She also used her gifts to help transform the lives of women in local villages. They worked at First Baptist Church in Victoria before retiring and making Laurier Heights Baptist Church (Edmonton) their home.

 

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 7

An introduction to an introduction to Easter

Dear friends,

As many of you are aware from common conversation and recent studies a large number of people in this country claim they are Christian and affiliated with a particular church.  You may also be aware that very few attend or are part of a Christian community on a regular basis.  When the over 22 million Canadians do attend church, in Roman Catholic, Orthodox, United, Lutheran, and a variety of other denominations, they follow a regular set of Bible readings and what is referred to as “liturgical church year”.  This begins 4 Sundays before Christmas in Advent preparing for the birth of Jesus.  While it includes many other highlights the 1 celebration or season of the church year that is critically important is the preparation for Easter known as Lent.

Why is this important?

It is important for evangelicals who don’t celebrate Lent to get around to preparing for Easter. Because many of us are not conscious of either the lectionary or the church year our hymnody, worship, and teaching tend to alight on the Resurrection without fully embracing the whole Easter narrative found in the gospels and especially in the gospel of John.  To phrase it another way, from a conversation Jill Schuler and I had, we find ourselves rushing after Good Friday to put up the Easter decorations without ever truly embracing the fuller experience of Christ, his Passion, or indeed the historic and present Christian church.

The other advantage is that it is essentially the message of Easter that is the most appropriate and wonderful expression of the faith and opportunity to talk to others.  This is especially true for that very large group of people who profess a nominal or disengaged faith but may be open at Easter.  Christmas has become too sentimental for many; never mind too materialistic.  Easter has some of the common narratives of the culture: new birth, renewal, resurrection; all of which are the most powerful gift the Christian faith can offer.  So for many in our family of churches this is an outstanding opportunity to share and talk with others.  Those opportunities present themselves as gifts from the Holy Spirit when we ask the Lord 2 questions:

1. Lord, would you make yourself known to me?

2. If it be your will would you make yourself known to others through me?

Next week we will reflect together on who those people might be so that this Lent and this Easter might truly bring new birth and new faith not only to those we know but maybe to the perfect stranger that is known only to God but not yet to us.

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

Quote of the Week: To paraphrase Chesterton: When people start believing everything there comes a point when they no longer believe in anything.

News from the Family: I know of a pastor with young children who for 10 minutes immediately after the service the whole family gathers in this pastor’s office to celebrate the joys of the day together as a family before the pastor goes out to those who have attended the service.  I’m deeply moved by this pastor.

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 6

Do not go gently into this night because night never overcomes the light of Jesus (John 1:5)

Dear friends,

The picture that you see is from Trinity Baptist Church at 49thAve and Granville in Vancouver.  They have been placing a phrase, an inspirational thought, on their sign for what seems like decades now.  

I have rarely been more proud of the visible presence of one of our churches than I was 2 days ago when I came across this one.  The intersection where Trinity is located is one of the most travelled routes on the way to the airport.  Hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, see this sign every year.  That is true not only of visible signs from our churches but it is also true of many of you who are reading this letter.  You see the signs of Christ in lives prayerfully lived out to God’s glory.  To be blunt there is something more important in this message.  It isn’t just a popular, culturally-relevant platitude.  That second phrase “our Muslim friends” bears truth in the life of Layne Daggett who is on staff at Trinity who is a former Vancouver Airport chaplain.  He welcomes people of all backgrounds in Christ’s name and actually has Muslim friends.  Would that that be true of more of us.

In the mayhem and chaos of world politics… yes, everywhere… in the lack of public truth telling and in the tragedy of misplaced words and facts (I do mean at home and abroad)… in the place where the levelling of Aleppo was a political football and not the tragedy of dying children… and where looming famine in particular parts of the world are found in places too familiar (as we so well know, familiarity breeds contempt).  In that kind of world I get buoyed up and sing for joy when I drive past signs at Trinity Baptist Church knowing that they believe what they say and speak in the strength of Christ.  I shout out names of good and righteous folk, many of whom are my friends and yours… those who don’t need a microphone placed in front of them to speak God’s truth:

The folks at the Emerson Church who are navigating how to stand up for those who are fleeing their country of origin and the United States at the border in their town.

Catherine Morris from Emmanuel in Victoria who sees the necessity to address human rights in far away places but has the profound integrity to see the need to press those issues in Canada.  Note also she has helped to facilitate discussions on the Doctrine of Discovery.

To the church who will remain nameless for the confidentiality of the child involved, who remade a Sunday School context for an autistic child even to the point of bringing in the child’s community caregiver so that it was done well so the one child who Christ loves could be treated with respect and dignity and be part of a community that received them.

This is not to mention the countless acts of hospitality and welcome practiced by individuals and churches in our midst.  Thank you Lord.  I call out the wonderful multi-cultural ethnicity of our family of churches.  I see Christ’s “choir” as it were singing and sharing, celebrating and coming to faith in the Lord Jesus rather like in Gerard Manley Hopkins poem “Christ shines in ten thousand Places”.  And He does shine.  For if we claim the darkness to be our reality we deny the truth and eternal light of our Lord.  In the words of the Keats Camp house band referring to Jesus, “He told the night it was not the day.”  May we believe that.  May we trust that.  May we celebrate that and look for Jesus shining in ten thousand places.

Here is the full line of the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem from “Kingfishers Catch Fire”:

for Christ plays in ten thousand places,

 Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his

To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Mother Theresa claimed that she could see the face of Christ in those she served.  Might we not see her clarity as the whimsy of an Albanian/Indian nun or as an exception but indeed between Hopkins and Theresa find evidence of that in our own lives and all around us.

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

Quote of the Week: Under the topic of “alternative facts” and to paraphrase Bill Bryson:

Scientist #1 says, I need to tell God these facts.

Scientist #2 says, Don’t you think he already knows them?

Scientist #1 responds, He knows the facts he just doesn’t know this set of the facts.

News from the Family: Some of our camps have already filled up some sections for their summer program.  Please pray that we don’t just fill up the numbers but we also are praying for the preparation of those who are working towards facilitating the summer camping season and in their selection of counsellors.