By Archbishop Colin Johnson
“The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us. We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father’s only Son… Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another.” (John 1:14, 16 – Good News Bible)
I am conscious of how very fortunate we are and have been when I consider our place in our world both here and abroad. A quick scan of the daily news bears that out. In the world today, we hear echoes of apocalyptic proportions reminiscent of ancient biblical prophecies: wars and rumours of war; earthquake, fire and flood; domestic violence and societal discord; murders of innocents. These are current. They are real. They always have been: current and real.
Yet, even in the face of this, we are called not to lose heart or hope but to stand with confidence and to engage with compassion. It is because of something else, someone else, who is current and real.
In the midst of such chaos, the Word of God comes into human life in the birth of a child, creating space for a different world – a world built not on fear but love, not on violence but peace, not on inequity but justice tempered with mercy. In the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, life does trump death. Although we all too often fall short in practise, we are bearers of this hope. In the faces of people we have met this past year, in every conceivable circumstance of life, we have glimpsed the face of Christ quietly and compellingly revealed. And we are thankful.
May you in some way, large or small, find grace to remain “steadfast in faith, joyful in hope and untiring in love” this year and all the days of your life.
(The Most Rev’d) Colin R. Johnson,
Archbishop of Toronto and of Moosonee,
Metropolitan of Ontario
A hard, honest look at why people are really walking away from church.
By John Pavlovitz
Being on the other side of the Exodus sucks, don’t it?
I see the panic on your face, Church.
I know the internal terror as you see the statistics and hear the stories and scan the exit polls.
I see you desperately scrambling to do damage control for the fence-sitters, and manufacture passion from the shrinking faithful, and I want to help you.
You may think you know why people are leaving you, but I’m not sure you do.
You think it’s because “the culture” is so lost, so perverse, so beyond help that they are all walking away.
You believe that they’ve turned a deaf ear to the voice of God; chasing money, and sex, and material things.
You think that the gays and the Muslims and the Atheists and the pop stars have so screwed up the morality of the world that everyone is abandoning faith in droves.
But those aren’t the reasons people are leaving you.
They aren’t the problem, Church.
You are the problem.
Let me elaborate in five ways …
“We don’t need to do inclusive language any more,” some of the young women tell Isabel Docampo in her intern classes at Perkins School of Theology. “That was important when you were going through seminary because there were all men. Inclusive language isn’t important anymore because now women can be leaders in church and are in the workplace big time.” Isabel says that when they go out into churches, these students discover that gender discrimination, although often more subtle now than in the past, is still all too prevalent.
The Church of England is actually holding up pretty well in an adverse market
It is perfectly understandable that an organisation that believes in resurrection ought to be generally less anxious about the prospect of its own impending death. Or perhaps this lack of anxiety is a form of denial. Whatever the explanation, it seems that the Church of England continues to slip quietly into non-existence; at present it’s on the gentle downward gradient of a 1% loss in membership a year.
Three things a Baptist learnt from the Anglican ChurchPublished 14 November 2014 | Sophia Sinclair – Press Service International Columnist
Eight years ago I attended an Anglican church for the first time. As a Baptist pastor’s daughter I was suddenly transplanted into a church community where men sometimes wear dresses, people sprinkle water on babies’ heads, drink real wine at communion, and recite familiar phrases aloud together during their services.
Despite growing up in church pews there was still so much that was mysterious: who were the Vestry and what did they do? Would I ever know the words to The Grace off by heart? Would they still give me communion if I didn’t cup my hands just right? Continue reading
Study Shows Millennials Turned Off by Trendy Church Buildings, Prefer a Classic Sanctuary
By Stephanie Samuel November 14, 2014
Millennials gravitate toward classic, quiet church spaces that feel authentic and provide a break from the busyness of a fast-paced, technological world, revealed a study commissioned by church architectural firms.
Online surveys administered to 843 young adults ages 18 to 29 by Christian research firm Barna Group and Cornerstone Knowledge Network, the market research organization created by church design firms Aspen Group and Cogun, found 67 percent chose the word “classic” to describe their ideal church. By contrast, 33 percent prefer a trendy church as their ideal. Continue reading
God and Taco Bell
by Austin Thomas
If you ever want to feel really good about yourself, go spend $100 at Taco Bell. It is magic. The people working behind the counter go bonkers. I am not joking. They will do things that fast-food employees never do, at least in my neighborhood. They will call you sir, and give you free drinks — as many as you want! When they address you they will lower their eyes to the floor like they are approaching a king. True story! If you are observant, you will catch the burrito-wrappers stealing glances at you and whispering about you with their taco-making friends. I have tested this theory, too. It works everywhere I’ve done it: Jack in the Box, multiple Taco Bells. It works so well that I have considered doing it for therapy — medicine for heartache or low-self esteem. I only did that once though; the bums who got the tacos loved me more than the taco bell employees. All the other times were for the high school kids I work with. Promise.
Here are 3 quotes reflective of Brigg’s thought:
- “Church and Bible are means not ends; they are avenues to God, but are not God.”
- “The Bible has been treated as if it were a baby, to be wrapped in swaddling clothes, nursed, and carefully guarded, lest it should be injured by heretics and sceptics.”
- “Criticism is at work with knife and fire. Let us cut down everything that is dead and harmful, every kind of dead orthodoxy, every species of effete ecclesiasticism, all those dry and brittle fences that constitution denominationalism and are the barriers of Church Unity. Let us remove every encumbrance out of the way for a new life: the life of God is moving throughout Christendom, and the springtime of a new age is about to come upon us.”
I find myself in agreement with Briggs. I wonder do you? And I find it amazing that he was thinking these things outloud better than 100 years ago!
There are passages, events and people in the Bible that I think are best understood by woman. Mary is certainly a case in point. So this morning I’ve turned to a woman, Joan Chittister, a gifted writer of theology and her book, “In Search of Belief” which is a primer on the Creed. She writes this of the Virgin Mary and I think it’s worth sharing…
“The question of Mary’s place in the history of salvation has ebbed and flowed throughout the centuries. Mary raises many questions. What does God really want from woman? What kind of sign is Mary to us all? What, if anything, do we see in her that has any meaning for women today?” I remember, writes Chittister, “that as a young child, despite the efforts of the nuns who taught me, the parish that formed me, and the example of other girls my own age, I developed little affinity to Mary. She was they taught me, docile and passive, submissive and unquestioning. She was not the strong, self-directing, thinking woman my mother was. What could I possibly find in Mary to respect, to imitate?