Archive

Archive for January, 2010

How wonderful, how pleasant!

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment

There were a lot of people in Church on January 10th. About 8,000.

No, FireLight Christian Fellowship didn’t experience a slight spike in attendance that Sunday. Actually, that was the estimated attendance at the One Heart City Church service that we were part of at the MTS Centre. As you may recall, it was an event where on that Sunday, twenty-six Churches decided to meet together instead of in our own local venues. Stepping out of our parochial comfort zones to worship the Lord together is risky business. We (the leaders who had planned and participated in it) expected maybe up to 4,000 people to show up. Boy, were we wrong.

The place was comfortably full by 10:30, and uncomfortably full by 11:00. Although, it didn’t seem to matter, and the MTS Centre was abuzz with activity and anticipation as the starting time drew near. That’s when the wave started. Really. The Wave. The whole place erupted spontaneously into a loud and joyful expression of wavy corporate unity that would rival any crowd at a sports event. This wave offering wasn’t what they were referring to in the Old Testament, but I’m sure it put a smile on the Lord’s face nonetheless. And it was only the beginning.

A children’s choir from the Churches began (Emmaus from FireLight and Nassia from LivingStones were in the choir), then pastors from the Churches shared the reading of scripture from the book of Revelation Chapter 5, verses 6-14 (I got to read verse 6). The next thing was an entry of the nations – Christians in cultural dress carrying the flags of 50 nations. Our very own George Balaktsis looked very Greek and in his traditional outfit and very proud as he hoisted the flag of his forbears. Ron MacLean greeted the people, and then a worship team put together from all the Churches led the giant congregation in songs of worship to our Lord Jesus (Brad Warkentin from LivingStones led one of the songs). Then there was communion (LivingStones’ Krishna and Konner were part of the usher team supervising that gargantuan task), a clever puppet show, and a great message about evangelism courtesy of David MacFarlane. We then gathered as pastors and gave the benediction to the people together. Wow!

I was moved to tears several times during the service. Even after more than a week of reflection, I can only get a glimpse of why. I think I was feeling something that was bigger than my mindset or my perception could intellectually process. In the end, I believe I may have been feeling a bit of what the Father would feel in seeing His children trying to get along, a bit of His pleasure at seeing the Church cooperating with Jesus’ prayer from John 17, that we His people would be brought to complete unity in Christ, a bit of the blessing that follows an action on our part that is near to the heart of God. What we did as Churches gathering together and sowing into the unity of the Body of Christ is, after all, biblical. And so is the blessing we experienced:

“How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God’s people to live together in harmony!  It is like the precious anointing oil running down from Aaron’s head and beard, down to the collar of his robes. It is like the dew on Mount Hermon, falling on the hills of Zion. That is where the LORD has promised his blessing— life that never ends.” – Psalm 133:1-3

We hope to do this again next year, with even more Churches participating. Will there be enough room? Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

May the Lord bless you,

Rob (www.weccwinnipeg.ca)

One Heart

January 7, 2010 1 comment

We live in a funny country. Somewhere along the way, our nation picked up on the concept of cultural diversity – the importance of recognizing the uniqueness and individuality of the cultures forming the social fabric of Canada, which we proudly characterize as “a nation of nations”.

That’s not the funny part. The funny part is that, in our zeal to emphasize the unique distinction of the many cultural communities in our country, we have all but forgotten that we actually form one nation – Canada. An easy demonstration of this national half-blindness is found in simply asking Canadians who they are. Invariably they will answer, “I am Dutch” “I am Irish” or “I am Ukrainian”, even if their family has been in Canada for over a century, and their knowledge of their culture of “origin” doesn’t go much beyond perogies. And if one is asked what it means to be Canadian, the frozen stare that results is like a moose in the headlights. The truth is, our obsession with individualism has damaged our self-awareness as a nation. So while it is good to recognize the fact that many cultural “parts” form our country, it becomes a liability to a nation to limp along with an awareness of only half the truth about itself. Many cultural communities, yes. But one nation, no less.

This national overemphasis on uniqueness and diversity has affected our minds, and in some ways this thinking has even leaked into the Church in Canada. As the Body of Christ in our nation, we have gotten really good at identifying, separating and categorizing ourselves as local fellowships, according to minor doctrinal quirks, preferences in musical styles, Sunday dress codes…even (surprise, surprise) cultural backgrounds. In other words, we excel at seeing the differences in the body of Christ, and we have become experts at distinguishing ourselves as many diverse parts – hands, eyes, feet, spleens, anterior cruciate ligaments, etc.

So what? Having only half a revelation about who we are as the Church amounts to no more than a gruesome pile of disconnected body parts. Paul lays out the whole truth in 1 Corinthians 12:20. In reference to the Church, he says, “As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”  And in Ephesians 4:4-5, in his plea for unity in the Church, he says, “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” Our Lord Jesus Himself, as he prayed for us as His future Church, said, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:23b). As much as it is important to work at understanding that the Church is made up of diverse parts, it is just as important to work at understanding that the Church is one connected body. Jesus thinks so. That must count.

So what have we done lately to recognize the other half of the truth about us as the Church – that our various local fellowships form one connected body? If we are honest with ourselves, our answer would probably be “not much”. Why? I suppose because it’s more work to join ourselves together than to separate ourselves. But at the same time, it is work that the Head of the Church – Jesus – wants us to do.

Here in Winnipeg, the Lord has been speaking to many Churches in the city about the importance of practically recognizing the fact that, although we are many parts, we are one body – so much so that on this Sunday, January 10th, a significant number of our fellowships in Winnipeg will be closing their local doors and gathering at the MTS Centre to worship TOGETHER, in a city-wide service called “One Heart”.

It has been a wonderful challenge to put this celebration service together, but why would it be easy? First, we’re not used to this kind of thing. All the Tin Man could do when he met Dorothy was to plead for oil through clenched teeth. But once his joints were loosened and exercised, he could sing and dance (and beat up bad guys)! As we get together and exercise the connections that have been established, we too will be able to move together more smoothly. Also, getting together is challenging because the Church has an Enemy who does not want us to realize who we are – a large, powerful body of believers in Jesus in this city. Satan has been comfortable in “divide and conquer” mode for a long time, and our awakening to the fact that we are one Body of Christ amounts to the waking of a sleeping giant in the eyes of the Enemy.

So FireLight Christian Fellowship, LivingStones Christian Fellowship, and many other local fellowships will be at the MTS Centre this Sunday, presenting ourselves together to the Lord Jesus, and pleading for oil.

The “One Heart” service is at 11. Doors open at 10. We hope to see you there.

May the Lord bless you,

Rob (www.weccwinnipeg.ca)