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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Basics of Faith 9 - Live Love

Live Love

Basics of Faith 9 – August 27, 2017
 A Sermon by Rev. M. Gayle MacDonald

Texts read on August 27The Tough Love ~Paraphrase of Psalm 82 by James Taylor (printed below; Epistle: 1 Peter 2:2-10; *Gospel: Luke 10:25-37

Psalm 82 ~ Tough Love

God sits at the head of the table.
          "How long," God demands, will you keep
          making wrong choices?
How long will your policies favour injustice?
          I expect you to be fair to everyone,
          including those with no economic weight;
to defend the rights of those who have no voice,
and no one to speak for them.
          to protect the weak and the struggling from exploitation.
Of all people, they need your protection most.
          They do not have education or money,
          or friends in high places.
They have suffered devastating losses in their lives."
          God says:  "You think you have taken over
          my responsibilities.
          But you are not God.
When your time comes, you will die like everyone else."
          Come, Lord.
Come Judge the earth.
          We are yours to judge.         

by James Taylor ~ Everyday Psalms

          Since June, we have covered, in the Basics of Faith Sermon, nine topics normally covered in classes for Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows   - for confirmation. This week the topic is living our faith in the world – Live Love.
          Before I move into this week’s topic, I am very aware that there are two areas that I have not covered explicitly. One is the Holy Spirit – for we are a church that baptizes using the traditional words recognized by our partner denominations in the Canadian Council of Churches; that is "Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Also, we regularly speak of the Spirit in our discussions, in sermons and in prayer. If we follow the lectionary church calendar when preaching, we specifically address the importance of the Holy Spirit to the Church on Pentecost Sunday and often on Trinity Sunday.  More importantly, the General Council of the United Church is increasingly looking to the movement of the Spirit as it continues to be relevant in a Post-modern world calling its present work "Engaging the Spirit".
          Also not covered in the nine topics is the denominational specific topic of the polity of the church – that is, the way the church works; the difference between being a member, an adherent and a full member; as well as how the church makes decisions on all levels; and where to find the by-laws that govern the denomination of the United Church of Canada as a whole. That topic is best covered in small groups or as an evening discussion group of any size and may need a review in light of the impending changes to the structure of the United Church.  In fact, the Council of this Pastoral Charge will be looking at structure as it works, this fall, to improve the effectiveness and communication of your current governance model.
          Today, with those two notable exceptions – the Holy Spirit and Church Structure and Governance, I will wrap up the series which I began in June as I talk about living our faith in the world.
          I think it is relevant that the United Church of Canada puts the words mission and service together, inseparable parts of a whole. Perhaps that is because in the United Church of Canada, we do not use the word mission to mean to proselytize or evangelize or convert others to Christianity or to the United Church of Canada. This does not mean that we, who call the United Church of Canada our home, do not hold our Christian faith dear – but it does mean that our focus is not to get others to agree with us in our beliefs, but rather to live what we believe. Mission in the United Church means providing a way to serve the needs of others in the world; a way to respond to disaster-like crises in the world; to promote peace and justice and address everyday injustices such as poverty, mental or physical challenges, innovations in ministry, environmental crises, and so on.  Mission and Service is the United Church's way of facilitating living with compassion – of living love.   If we are doing mission and service well, if we are living what we believe, then we may be following the advice of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel always; use words only when necessary.” I grew up on the words, “They will know we are Christians by our love”, and I like to think this is true of us, even if we are not always seen that way.
          I am fascinated by the fact that the very first members of the communities we refer to as the Early Church were not commonly referred to as ‘Christians’ or ‘Christ followers’, but as ‘people of the way’, because they followed a particular way of living – and that way, is of course, the way taught by Jesus, whom we call the Christ; the anointed one.
          The United Church of Canada became a denomination in the hay-day of the Social Gospel. There was so much work to be done for outreach and justice that this work was one of the compelling reasons the three founding denominations got together:  it was easier to do the work of the Social Gospel if they combined their efforts, rather than compete with one another for resources to do the same work with the same people. And the twenty articles of faith, now referred to as the twenty articles of doctrine, which are in the Basis of Union came about by consensus – that is, while the founding members of the United Church of Canada might not be able to agree on everything, at that point in time, at our coming together in 1925 after 14 years of deliberation, the founding denominations could agree on the things which were written into the Basis of Union.
          The United Church has historically been outspoken on issues of justice, often taking unpopular stands. What is sometimes overlooked is that other denominations were struggling with the same issues of justice at the same time and coming to similar conclusions, but other denominations often lagged in making public statements or in having the will to act radically. Is this strength on our part, or a weakness? That depends, I think on the person with whom you are speaking – but outspoken and justice-oriented is who we are as a denomination. I believe this outspokenness comes from a deeply spiritual place. I have noticed, over the years as the United Church continues its radical journey forward, it is also increasing its emphasis of spiritual practices. These are not easy issues we undertake, and, it should be noted that while the General Council encourages congregations to follow suit on its decisions; it does not demand it and remains open to criticism and change.
          Mission and Service are not separated in the United Church, nor are they for most people in the congregations. By that I mean, our Mission is to help, not to convert. We are, for the most part, not a people who go about debating our faith with others. We are a people who live it – and we live it by struggling regularly with issues of justice and integrity and compassion. We believe firmly in a God who loves us and who is with us in our struggles. We believe that Jesus taught us the way to live in the world and that the Gospels help us to understand that way.  We continue to read and study the Bible, but always with an eye to the world as it is; with an openness to the Word as something living and changing as we and the world in which we live change.  Our one constant is that our understanding is rooted in Love – Love of God, of Jesus, and of the people who struggle with these concepts.
          The result of years of worshipping and learning together is that the United Church as a uniting church has  come to believe that the way of Jesus is one of compassion. One of the central teachings which helps us to struggle with living the love that Jesus taught is found in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 10. It is these words: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."  This was the answer the young lawyer gave to Jesus in response to his own question: “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus tells him that his answer is correct. Then Jesus continues the lesson with the parable of the good Samaritan.
          To most practicing devout Jews at the time in which Jesus lived the phrase “good Samaritan” was an oxymoron. They would not have put good and Samaritan in the same sentence – it just didn’t make sense. The lesson for the young lawyer, and for us, is that everyone is our neighbor; and the one who lives with compassion; that is, the one who shows mercy, is the good neighbor and has fulfilled the greatest commandment. To be a good neighbor is a life-long challenge. To realize that often those we fear as enemy might be our good neighbor is even more challenging.
          Live love: love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. This statement, these two commands are a summary of the intention of all the other commandments. These two are simple and complex at the same time. Do we begin with us – that is by learning to love ourselves properly and then “love our neighbours as ourselves” and come to God in that way to because by loving our neighbor as ourselves we are filling the commandment to love God with all of our being. Or is it the other way around: do we love God, who loves both us and our neighbor? And by loving God with all of our being, we unavoidably love our neighbor as ourselves because we love what God loves – all our neighbours:  the ones we are happy to greet and the ones who vex us.  These two commandments together offer a lifetime of learning and living.
          We are not called to separate or to judge.  We are called to be a Holy people, called to be people of the way, called to be followers of the Christ. We are called to Live Love.
May it always be so.  Amen.

United Church of Canada Statements and Creeds on Communion
Note:  Article XX in the Basis of Union is the closest to Mission in the founding documents of the United Church, though the reason for uniting in the first place was the Social Gospel.  Over time, the church in the world has come to understand mission more as aiding others to wholeness than converting people to our own way of thinking.  The church has struggled, since that time, to consider how to live the Gospel among all people rather than preach at people.  As the United Church of Canada and its people grow in understanding.  It has chosen to lament the injustices of colonialism and to strive to live in a more open and equitable relationship with all peoples.  Our understanding of Christian Service has dramatically changed as will be seen in subsequent Creeds and Statements.  The progression of our understanding of how to live as the church in the world is addressed in the Preamble to the Song of Faith (2006), so it is printed first and then the sections of the various statements, beginning in 1925, which might be relevant to our topic:  Live Love.

(Song of Faith)
          This statement of faith seeks to provide a verbal picture of what The United Church of Canada understands its faith to be in its current historical, political, social, and theological context at the beginning of the 21st century. It is also a means of ongoing reflection and an invitation for the church to live out its convictions in relation to the world in which we live.
The church’s faith is grounded in truths that are timeless. These truths, however, must be embraced anew by Christians of each generation and stated “in terms of the thoughts of their own age and with the emphasis their age needs” (Statement of Faith, 1940).
This is not the first time the United Church has formally expressed its collective faith. In the Basis of Union (1925), in the Statement of Faith (1940), and in A New Creed (1968), the United Church stated its faith in words appropriate to its time. This current statement of faith is offered within that tradition, and in response to the request of the 37th General Council (2000) for a “timely and contextual statement of faith” that especially engages “the church in conversation on the nature of the church (ecclesiology), ministry and the sacraments.”
This statement of faith attempts to reflect the spirit of The United Church of Canada and to respond to various defining elements in our social, political, and historical context, including the place of the church in society, the cultural and intellectual setting in which we find ourselves, the meaning of “truth,” the impact of the market economy on our daily lives, and the growing issue of the meaning of “security.” These contextual elements are further explored in the appendices to this document.
This is not a statement for all time but for our time. In as much as the Spirit keeps faith with us, we can express our understanding of the Holy with confidence. And in as much as the Spirit is vast and wild, we recognize that our understanding of the Holy is always partial and limited. Nonetheless we have faith, and this statement collects the meaning of our song.

1925 – Basis of Union 
Article XX. Of Christian Service and the Final Triumph. We believe that it is our duty, as disciples and servants of Christ, to further the extension of His Kingdom, to do good unto all men, to maintain the public and private worship of God, to hallow the Lord’s Day, to preserve the inviolability of marriage and the sanctity of the family, to uphold the just authority of the State, and so to live in all honesty, purity, and charity, that our lives shall testify of Christ. We joyfully receive the word of Christ, bidding His people go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, declaring unto them that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, and that He will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. We confidently believe that by His power and grace all His enemies shall finally be overcome, and the kingdoms of this world be made the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ.
1940 – Statement of Faith
XI. Christian Life and Duty We believe that the Christian life is the life lived in fellowship with Christ and His Church. It begins with repentance and faith. In repentance men turn from sin to serve the holy and forgiving God with new and glad obedience. In faith they entrust themselves to Christ and rest upon Him alone for salvation. We believe that by the teaching and example of Jesus the Holy Spirit shows men the way and the end of the Christian life, what it means to love God with all the heart and soul and mind and strength, and to love their neighbour as themselves. We believe that Christian men are called to abide within the fellowship of the Church, to maintain its peace and unity, and to give diligent heed to prayer, to the reading of Scripture, to common worship and the sacraments. We believe that they are likewise called to live as those who are of the Kingdom of God, and to seek His righteousness both in individual and social life, serving their fellow-men in love for Christ’s sake, and striving and waiting in prayer for an ordered common life where the will of God for the well-being and peace of men shall be done over all the earth. We believe that in denying themselves and in following Christ men are enabled by the Spirit of God more and more to die unto sin and live unto righteousness; that they are, under the hand of a faithful Father, in labour, love, and duty, in suffering, sorrow and defeat, renewed in the inner man after the image of the crucified and victorious Christ; and that they receive in this life a foretaste of the final redemption, assurance of the divine favour, peace and joy, and the confidence that He is able to keep them to the end. So we acknowledge the Christian life as the life lived within the family of God, with the graces and privileges, the duties and discipline, through which the Christian man grows up in all things into Christ.
1968 (Rev. 1980, 1995) - A New Creed
We are called to be the Church:
    to celebrate God’s presence,
    to live with respect in Creation,
    to love and serve others,
    to seek justice and resist evil,
    to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
       our judge and our hope.

2006 – A Song of Faith
We sing of the Creator,
          who made humans to live and move
          and have their being in God.
In and with God,
          we can direct our lives toward right relationship
          with each other and with God.
We can discover our place as one strand in the web of life.
We can grow in wisdom and compassion.
We can recognize all people as kin.
We can accept our mortality and finitude, not as a curse,
          but as a challenge to make our lives and choices matter.
. . . . . . .

God reconciles,
          and calls us to repent the part we have played
          in damaging our world, ourselves, and each other.
God transforms,
          and calls us to protect the vulnerable,
          to pray for deliverance from evil,
          to work with God for the healing of the world,
          that all might have abundant life.
We sing of grace.
. . . . . . .

The fullness of life includes
          moments of unexpected inspiration and courage lived out,
          experiences of beauty, truth, and goodness,
          blessings of seeds and harvest,
                    friendship and family, intellect and sexuality,
          the reconciliation of persons through justice
                    and communities living in righteousness,
                    and the articulation of meaning.
And so we sing of God the Spirit,
          who from the beginning has swept over the face of creation,
          animating all energy and matter
          and moving in the human heart.
. . . . . . .

Jesus announced the coming of God’s reign—
          a commonwealth not of domination
          but of peace, justice, and reconciliation.
He healed the sick and fed the hungry.
He forgave sins and freed those held captive
          by all manner of demonic powers.
He crossed barriers of race, class, culture, and gender.
He preached and practised unconditional love—
          love of God, love of neighbour,
          love of friend, love of enemy—
and he commanded his followers to love one another
          as he had loved them.
. . . . . . .
We sing of God’s good news lived out,
a church with purpose:
          faith nurtured and hearts comforted,
          gifts shared for the good of all,
          resistance to the forces that exploit and marginalize,
          fierce love in the face of violence,
          human dignity defended,
          members of a community held and inspired by God,
                    corrected and comforted,
          instrument of the loving Spirit of Christ,
          creation’s mending.
We sing of God’s mission.
. . . . . . .
In grateful response to God’s abundant love,
          we bear in mind our integral connection
          to the earth and one another;
we participate in God’s work of healing and mending creation.
. . . . . . .
Divine creation does not cease
          until all things have found wholeness, union, and integration
          with the common ground of all being.
As children of the Timeless One,
          our time-bound lives will find completion
          in the all-embracing Creator.
In the meantime, we embrace the present,
          embodying hope, loving our enemies,
          caring for the earth,
choosing life.

Grateful for God’s loving action,
          we cannot keep from singing.
Creating and seeking relationship,
          in awe and trust,
we witness to Holy Mystery who is Wholly Love. 


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Basics of Faith 8 - Why Church?

Why Church?

Basics of Faith 8 – August 20, 2017
 A Sermon by Rev. M. Gayle MacDonald

Texts read on August 20:  Deuteronomy 31:12-23; The Universal Pilgrimage ~Paraphrase of Psalm 122 by James Taylor (printed below); Acts 2:42-47; Luke 6:1-12

The Universal Pilgrimage
Paraphrase of Psalm 122 by James Taylor

God calls people everywhere to a pilgrimage. 
From all over the world,
many feet beat a path to God’s holy places. 
They struggle over high mountain passes;
they shuffle across dusty deserts;
they crawl along the walls of river canyons. 
Straggling lines of searchers
converge in a fertile valley;
a great shout of joy goes up to the heavens. 
Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus
—in common cause
the great religions rise above
doctrinal differences.
Pray for their unity;
pray for their commitment
May they not threaten each other;
may they generate peace among their peoples. 
God, watching over them, says,
“They do not all call themselves my followers.
Yet because they are brothers and sisters,
meeting in harmony, I will treat them as my own.” 
Because they do God’s will, God welcomes them.

This morning’s topic is “Why Church?”  I have been re-thinking this topic in light of the events of the past two week:  the gathering of a white supremacist in Charlottesville, Virginia and the terrorist bombings in Spain.  I have heard some liken the white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups who claim to be Christian as not much different from members of Isis who claim to be Muslim. 
The events of this week highlight the need to really understand why we gather and what we are about?  My understanding of church and its place in the world is no different now than it was some four years ago when I last preached on this topic.  At that time it was Mother's Day and the news that dominated the television reporting was that Boko Haram had just kidnapped some 376 school girls.   Most of the world was outraged then, as most of the world is outraged now by the White Supremacists and neo-Nazi's and wonder how they can still consider their cause legitimate in light of the holocaust of World War II. 
          Arnold Schwarzenegger posted an excellent talk on the Internet calling out white supremacist groups, and calling out President Trump for not speaking out against them more decisively.  He spoke in light having been born in 1947 in Austria.  Growing up, he saw and felt the guilt and remorse and shame of the generation before him who blindly followed Hitler; who returned home defeated and, in their defeat, came to a realization of just exactly what they had done.  Schwarzenegger admonished people to speak out loudly and quickly; that it is important not to be silent in the face of such groups.
Considering all that has been happening and in the news, I went back and began re-reading a classic:  Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "Life Together".  Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran Pastor who taught at seminary.  He was in the United States teaching when the World War II broke out.  His colleagues wanted him to stay in the U.S. where he was safe, but he insisted on returning to Germany.  His twin sister was married to a Jew. 
Bonhoeffer and his brother-in-law were part of a German resistance.  He was arrested and continued his ministry while in prison.  His "Letters from Prison" is another well-known book of his.  Bonhoeffer was hanged by the Nazi's for treason just before the end of the war.
In his book "Life Together", Bonhoeffer talks of the Christian community, what it is and what it isn't.  He warns that if one comes into the Christian community with a dream or a vision of what it should look like, the best thing that can happen is that that dream be shattered quickly.  The Christian community is not an ideal we can think of and create; it is simply a gathering of people under the grace of the Christ.  This is what the community has in common.  That one who is lonely, sick, or in prison and is visited by a fellow Christian, or those who are denied the opportunity to gather understand the joy of such a fellowship; whereas those who gather regularly may not realize such a gift and forget to be thankful for the small things and start complaining about the community or about one another.  If this is the case, Bonhoeffer suggests that they do not yet understand the nature of the fellowship, but maybe are still expecting some ideal that doesn't exist.
He warns Pastors who desire to create a community to fit some ideal or vision that they have that the vision will soon be shattered and they will become disillusioned.  And as far as Bonhoeffer is concerned, the sooner this happens the betters.  A Christian community is not an ideal but a reality, it is not a psychic (i.e., not of the mind) community, but a spiritual community.  It is faith and love that bonds its members. 
We are all on a journey through life and we have chosen to travel that journey as a spiritual path.  We have chosen, as our teacher and spiritual guide, Jesus of Nazareth.  I agree with Bonhoeffer in that Jesus is what binds us together in community.  This does not make our community superior to other faith communities, but it is our centre and it is our faith and it is our identity. 
We are on a human journey and ours is a human community as is the journey and community of other faiths who seek to grown in love and compassion.  Our scriptures teach us that God is love; and perhaps that, in the end, will be what binds us as humans – love that transcends boundaries, race, colour, gender, creed or belief systems – but we learn that love by gathering in community;  gathering with the humility to know that without each other our understanding in partial; gathering knowing that each one of us learns from the othe, that none of us is perfect.  As a Christian church,  we gather in the name of Jesus whose love knew no boundaries.   
There is hope for us in the events in Charlottesville in that people, prominent people and everyday ordinary folk are speaking out against racism and violence.  One of the photographs shown frequently is of a long line of clergy marching together in protest to what the white supremacists stand for – clergy of all faiths walking arm in arm against exclusion and violence.  At least we have come this far, far enough to agree that discrimination based on the colour of one's skin should not exist in the civilized world. 
These things cannot be separated: the outrage of the world against violence, against discrimination, against kidnapping, against acts of terrorism and the need to gather and reflect as a people of faith living in such a world.   The common thread in all of this is the radical and incessant demand for justice; the respect and value for of all life; and the need to support one another in these pursuits as we struggle with issues of morality, and the place of faith and of God in the midst of the reality of living.
So, in the light of all that is happening, in the world in this time and in this place, I ask the question:  "Why Church?"  Why do we continue to gather?  What is the Christian church, and is it relevant today? 
Whether or not the church is relevant depends on what you consider the church to be.  If we are not “being the church” in the world then we are irrelevant. And you get to decide, as the gathered people what the church in your time and your place will be.  Can you live together as brothers and sisters with one love – sometimes broken and in need of healing, sometimes in disagreement and in need of reconciliation, but always bound together with the one love that calls us to live with compassion, respect and humility in our life together.
For too many years, the church was too comfortable.  It had a dominant place in society.  If you wanted to get ahead, if you wanted respect, that came with attending your local Christian Church.  The church was the norm and, while it was a good place to be, it was also, at times easy to forget it roots in radical transformation; too easy to forget that at its root the church was never envisioned as a middle or upper-class institution where the comfortable feel comfortable.  Rather the gathered community of the followers of "the Christ" was a place that turned the world on its ear; because it was the opposite of groups like the white supremacists.  I don’t want to lead you astray; because the early church did have arguments about “inclusion” rules – i.e., certain foods, circumscion, etc. – but in the end these were cast aside as unnecessary for inclusion in the community.  The Christian community was and is intended to be a place where everyone should feel welcomed and accepted and cared for – especially those who normally aren’t: a place where none are hungry and all are valued.
If the church is living true to its roots, then church is not just a place to belong, but a place to question the very act of belonging; and a lens through which to look at the world.
            Listen to this description of the earliest of gatherings of the community of the followers of the teachings of Jesus from the book of Acts (NRSV). 
Acts 2:42-47
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. . . .   All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.  Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people.

One sentence in there caught my attention as I read it this week:
“Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts,”
It is their gathering together which seems to have provided them the ability to break bread at home and eat with glad and generous hearts.  Gathering and remembering are acts of the community – along with feeding and supporting.  Breaking bread is reminiscent of the command of Jesus to remember him at the table; and that memory, that assurance that telling of the stories in community and the prayers they shared in community, was spiritual sustenance to carry them into their lives.
The first century gatherings were places of hope, places to be fed and cared for, places of learning or re-learning what it meant to be followers of the one called Christ.  They were places of fellowship, and places that provided the strength, the courage, and the insight to live what they experienced and learned when they returned to their homes.
Though their lives could, at times, be a life of unjust suffering; they were people of God; they were followers of the one they saw as the Christ; they belonged to a community who cared; they were loved and treated as worthy; they could choose to feed one another and share with generous hearts and know in their hearts that their suffering was unjust – that God did not cause their suffering, but humans. 
        When they gathered they learned that they, together, created and made real the vision of God’s way of living here is this life, despite, maybe even because of, their own circumstances.  In the gathered community, there was hope and love and freedom. 
This gathered community is as important now as it was then, perhaps more so when there are so many opportunities for gathering, but few opportunities to recall that your life is lived within a greater whole and has importance and meaning beyond our own likes and dislikes.  We call our gathered community ‘church’.
It is true that church as we imagined it was/is changing, but maybe that is a good thing.  The church is not about what we imagine, but what God imagines.  It is not there to make us feel good, but to support us be a microcosm of the Kin-dom of God. 
We, the gathered community are still the church, and we will be quite alright if we remember that church is wherever people gather to hear the story of God’s people; to study and live what it means to be part of an invisible country where all are equal, where love is the motivating principle for seeking justice and for action; it is the place where we seek together a way to express the ineffable experience of faith; it is the place that provides us with a framework for the rest of our living.
 Here we share our concerns in this life and struggle together to understand our deeper life in the spirit.  Yet even as the people, the church, gather and draw closer to God, we are challenged to bring love and hope into the world.  We gather and then we scatter, bringing a kingdom or kin-dom sensibility of love and justice to the world; for what is the church if not a microcosm of the kin-dom of God?  And how could we do all this if we don’t  first meet to learn, to challenge, to grow, to do?
It is not an easy task to be the church in the world.  And so, we gather regularly:  for a refresher course in Christian spirituality, or simply to absorb the nurturing and strengthening gift of being in fellowship with one another – because, after all, we are the church.
            So Why Church?  Because the church is people; because the church is not a building but is everywhere that we live our radical, life-altering, transformative faith; because the church is who we are everyday; and we gather as a church community so that we can be the church together in the world. 

United Church of Canada Statements and Creeds on Communion
1925 – Basis of Union 
Article XV. Of the Church. We acknowledge one Holy Catholic Church, the innumerable company of saints of every age and nation, who being united by the Holy Spirit to Christ their Head are one body in Him and have communion with their Lord and with one another. Further, we receive it as the will of Christ that His Church on earth should exist as a visible and sacred brotherhood, consisting of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to Him, together with their children and other baptized children, and organized for the confession of His name, for the public worship of God, for the administration of the sacraments, for the upbuilding of the saints, and for the universal propagation of the Gospel; and we acknowledge as a part, more or less pure, of this universal brotherhood, every particular church throughout the world which professes this faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to Him as divine Lord and Saviour.

1940 – Statement of Faith
VII. The Church We believe that the Church, the society of the redeemed, was brought into existence by God Himself through the work and risen power of Christ, Who in calling men into fellowship with Himself calls them by the same act into fellowship with one another in Him.

We believe that the Church is the organ of Christ’s mind and redemptive will, the body of which He is the Head. Under Him the Church is called to the proclamation of the everlasting Gospel with its offer of salvation, to the worship of God, Creator and Redeemer, to the loving service of mankind, and to the care and nurture of the flock.
We believe that all members of the Church are one in Him, and that the life of the Church in every age is continuous with that of the first apostolic company. The groups commonly known as “churches” are called to share in the life of the whole Church, of all ages and of all lands, entering freely into the full heritage of thought, worship, and discipline, and living together in mutual confidence.

We believe that for the fulfillment of her mission in the world God has given to the Church the Ministry, the Scriptures and the Sacraments. So we acknowledge one holy, catholic, apostolic Church, the Body of Christ, the household and family of God.

1968 (Rev. 1980, 1995) - A New Creed
We are called to be the Church:
    to celebrate God’s presence,
    to live with respect in Creation,
    to love and serve others,
    to seek justice and resist evil,
    to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
       our judge and our hope.

2006 – A Song of Faith
We sing of a church
   seeking to continue the story of Jesus
   by embodying Christ’s presence in the world.
We are called together by Christ
   as a community of broken but hopeful believers,
   loving what he loved,
   living what he taught,
   striving to be faithful servants of God
   in our time and place.
Our ancestors in faith
   bequeath to us experiences of their faithful living;
   upon their lives our lives are built.
Our living of the gospel makes us a part of this communion of saints,
   experiencing the fulfilment of God’s reign
   even as we actively anticipate a new heaven and a new earth.

The church has not always lived up to its vision.
It requires the Spirit to reorient it,
   helping it to live an emerging faith while honouring tradition,
   challenging it to live by grace rather than entitlement,
for we are called to be a blessing to the earth.

We sing of God’s good news lived out,
a church with purpose:
   faith nurtured and hearts comforted,
   gifts shared for the good of all,
   resistance to the forces that exploit and marginalize,
   fierce love in the face of violence,
   human dignity defended,
   members of a community held and inspired by God,
      corrected and comforted,
   instrument of the loving Spirit of Christ,
   creation’s mending.
We sing of God’s mission.

We are each given particular gifts of the Spirit.
For the sake of the world,
   God calls all followers of Jesus to Christian ministry.
In the church,
   some are called to specific ministries of leadership,
   both lay and ordered;
   some witness to the good news;
   some uphold the art of worship;
   some comfort the grieving and guide the wandering;
   some build up the community of wisdom;
   some stand with the oppressed and work for justice.
To embody God’s love in the world,
   the work of the church requires the ministry and discipleship
   of all believers.

In grateful response to God’s abundant love,
   we bear in mind our integral connection
   to the earth and one another;
we participate in God’s work of healing and mending creation.
To point to the presence of the holy in the world,
   the church receives, consecrates, and shares
   visible signs of the grace of God.
In company with the churches
   of the Reformed and Methodist traditions,
we celebrate two sacraments as gifts of Christ:
  baptism and holy communion.
In these sacraments the ordinary things of life
—water, bread, wine—
point beyond themselves to God and God’s love,
   teaching us to be alert
   to the sacred in the midst of life.

Basics of Faith 9 - Live Love

Live Love Basics of Faith 9 – August 27, 2017  A Sermon by Rev. M. Gayle MacDonald Texts read on August 27 :  The Tough Love ~ Pa...