And as I long for God’s people from all nations to gather peacefully in praise of the Lamb (Rev. 7), I can have a foretaste of that glory by gathering with our newest members from Iran, along with our charter members from the Netherlands and everybody in between. Not just each nation but each individual has “peculiar treasures” that reflect the glory of the Lord.
October 2017 will bring the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. I suggest we commemorate the occasion by celebrating our Catholicism.
In the 1930s a group of friends called “the Inklings” began to gather for drinks, conversation and mutual encouragement. Led by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, the group consisted mostly of Oxford dons but included members from other fields as well. Eighty years after their formation, the group continues to fascinate millions. Together, they testify to the powers of imagination and friendship, and they hold out hope for anyone seeking to overcome evil with good.
As Reformed Christians in Canada make ministry plans for 2020 and beyond, we can learn much from a Reformed denomination founded in 1925, namely the United Church of Canada. More specifically, we can learn from Phyllis D. Airhart’s book, A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking the United Church of Canada.
To love these Roman Catholic writers who help us to love God does not mean we deny serious theological differences with them or the sad divisions that continue to dismember the body of Christ. Instead, such love moves us to expand our friendships in ways that could, in God’s time, serve the cause of Christian union and therefore mission.
James K.A. Smith believes that Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor offers compelling guidance for people trying to find their way amid “the malaise and cross-pressures and furtive wonder that characterize our secular age.” Yet Taylor’s book, A Secular Age, is so long and dense that many potential readers need assistance to benefit from it. In his award winning, How (Not) to Be Secular, Smith successfully orients us to both Taylor and the secular age he describes. Smith presents Taylor as offering us a map, a narrative and a lexicon for fruitful conversations that hold out our best hope for communion with one another and conversions to Christ.
Like many churches around the world, Willowdale Christian Reformed Church in Toronto baptized some new believers on Easter Sunday, 2015. By incorporating our friends into the body of Christ, we at Willowdale participated simultaneously in a long tradition of Christian mission and in the “new thing” God promises to do among his people in every age, including our own. We pass on the story of conversion and celebration as a sharing of joy and as an encouragement to congregations.
As adult children befriend their parents, so, too, can mature children of God become friends with God.