May 31, 2010

Looking Forward to June 6, 2010 -- 2nd Sunday After Pentecost

This Sunday we will be celebrating the 85th Anniversary of the United Church of Canada. As part of this Communion will be celebrated using the "Common Loaf" of the National Church.

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • From the Gospel: John 17:1-2, 6, 17-23
  • From the Gospel: Luke 10:1-12

The Hymns this week are:
  • 578 As a Fire is Meant for Burning (tune #374)
  • 331 The Church’s One Foundation
  • 601 The Church of Christ in Every Age (tune #20)
  • 481 Sent Forth by God’s Blessing

The Sermon Title is 85 and Going?????

Early Thoughts: From Hockey Arena in Toronto to the internet wired church. Where do we go from here? Where are we headed?

June 10, 1925. Representatives from the Presbyterian, Methodist, Congregationalist and Local Union Churches gathered in a Toronto Hockey Arena to mark the formation of a new, distinctly Canadian, denomination. Supported by an Act of Parliament (and various pieces of Provincial legislation), and after many years of negotiation, the United Church of Canada became a reality. At the time there were high hopes that this was but a beginning of becoming United. The hope was that more of the Protestant community would come to join in the Union.

85 years later, where do we find ourselves? Is there still a sense of hope for the future? I there still a sense of who we are as a denomination and what we have to share/offer?

To be honest, I am not really sure. There is a great deal of despair and pessimism in our midst. There are hard numerical realities that people have tried to avoid or ignore for decades that are becoming elephants in our midst. And there have been various responses, both by local congregations and by the national offices, that sometimes seem to be grasping at straws, even if the straws seem to have a good foundation.

The passage from Luke we read this Sunday tells of Jesus sending out the disciples. I think that there is a message for the Church in this. We need to become missional, we need to be more outward-focussed and do less navel gazing. But above all, it is my fear that we have lost our sense of identity and mission. We have lost our focus and raison d'etre. Unless we find that again, any changes (big or small) that we make will merely be shuffling deck chairs.

I do believe there is hope for the United Church. I do believe we have something vital to offer to our world. I also believe that it is time to look to a new way of being, not just re-organizing old ways. Where will we be in 2025 when we celebrate our centennial?

PS> Click here for some information about where General COuncil Executive is steering this ship

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