January 18, 2013

We Are Here To Be Signs of God’s Glory in the World

The Readings (Isaiah 62.1-5), John 2.1-11 and 1 Corinthians 12.1-11) all talk about signs. God blessing His people Israel, Jesus turning water into wine and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are all signs or evidence of the glory of God.  They are teaching us to be signs of that glory. Everyone needs some personal experience or sign of God’s love in their lives to help them believe in God and be a sign of His glory.

1    1.  Isaiah prophecies that God will bless Israel as a sign of His love
This prophecy was probably received either during or just after the Exile of the Hebrew people in Babylon (586-538 BC) when national pride was very low and people felt abandoned by God:
·         Isaiah prophesied  their Loyalty will be “vindicated” in history
·         Other nations  will see their blessing & glory
·         Shame and disgrace turned to national honour and respect
·         Chosen people – “married” to their “builder”
·         Israel will be a sign of God’s love and glory to the world
·         God would ‘delight’ in His people

January 9, 2013

Transforming the Anglican Church of Canada - A Proposal

The Anglican Primate’s consultation on Church transformation to deal with declining finances comes at a time when most people can finally agree that something is not working – and that continuing in the present direction and expecting a different outcome is by definition insane. Let me propose that the current problem of declining attendance and funding goes way back to decisions made in the 1970’s to move away from the traditional sin / redemption emphasis and judgementalism of evangelicals; and make the church more relevant and appealing to the culture – the famous ‘comfortable pew’ of Pierre Berton. This was a good idea but it was taken too far and resulted in us caving in to non-Biblical political values and 40 years of conflict over theological changes in liturgy, the ordination of women, the blessing of same-sex unions and downplaying the importance of forgiveness and personal reconciliation. To put it simply and bluntly, paralleling the Prophecy of Isaiah adopted by Jesus as His mission (Luke 4.18), the Anglican Church of Canada needs to change from being politically anointed to being anointed by the Holy Spirit; from changing the Good News to proclaiming the Good News; from blinding people with political agendas to opening their eyes to God’s spiritual agenda and from imprisoning people in false teachings to freeing them Biblical spiritual teachings.

1.     Change from being politically anointed to Holy Spirit Anointed
The process of de-emphasizing the importance of really being guided by the Holy Spirit probably goes back to the Day of Pentecost, when some people felt missed and left out. Being human they would naturally propose alternative, more predictable and tangible sources of authority. So it was that our forefathers, very unwisely and un-Biblically, allied themselves with political authorities and pushed our charismatic brother, Rev. John Wesley and many others, out of the Anglican fold and substituted Scripture, Tradition and Reason (i.e. politics) as our sources of doctrinal authority. In our time Anglican and other churches that make a serious effort to be led by the Holy Spirit, as opposed to the current political agenda, are growing. The most dramatic example of this potential change is the New Wine Anglican churches in England which are filled to capacity right next door in some case to almost empty traditional Anglican churches.