Monday, April 30, 2012

Living in Community

Hey everyone!

So, tonight I am sleeping in my own apartment for the first time ever!- sort of!

For the months of May and June I will be living in intentional Christian community with a bunch of really cool people from Emmaus Anglican Church! For the last two years, a group of about six young adults from our congregation have been living together in community in Pointe St-Charles, a poorer area of Montreal, with the goal of growing together in their faith and reaching out to the people in that neighborhood. I am super excited to be living with them for the next two months as a member of their community!

I don't have a whole lot to say right now, but I felt I should keep in tradition and write something on a Monday night, and figured this was as good a thing to write about as any! So, I will end this here for now but you can rest assured that as I adjust to the madness of morning prayers and community dinners and independence from my parents I will have lots of things to talk about and lots of prayers to request!

For those of you who feel so inclined, here is how you can pray for me this week:
- Pray that I can easily make the switch between living at home with my parents and living at home with my friends
- Pray that I can adjust to the new lifestyle that comes with living on my own
- Pray that I am able to build tighter relationships with the people I'm living with
- Pray especially that God uses this to stretch me and bring me closer to Him!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Touch the Leper

I've been thinking a lot recently about social justice- oppressed people groups, equality, and all that jazz. It occurs to me that, as a Christian, it's my duty to show love to people, especially people who are marginalized and really need it.

This post is inspired at least a little by conversations I've had over the last few days, and by Keith Ganzer's sermon preached this morning at Emmaus Anglican Church.

In Jesus' day, people with leprosy had it really rough. They were outcast from society because of their condition- not only because it was contagious, but also because they believed it was caused by their sins. If you had leprosy, you had to walk around shouting "Unclean! Unclean!" so that people would know to keep their distance. You were literally as far removed and ostracised as you possibly could be.

When I try to think about what the modern equivalent of a leper would be- that is, a people group that is marginalized and gets a lot of hate- the first groups that come to mind are the homeless and the gay community. Too many people in the world have negative attitudes toward homeless people, and homosexuals get treated poorly all over the world (granted, less in recent years than before, but still more than they should)

Speaking on a more confessional, personal level, I think I've definitely been guilty of not showing enough love to these two groups- and maybe that's why I'm focusing on them tonight. I've always claimed to have compassion for the homeless, and yet I never make any effort to make them feel loved. I've always claimed to love homosexuals (because their sin is really no worse than mine) but I've never made an effort to reach out to them or support them in any way. I've been pretty lousy at showing love to these two groups, and Christ's example shows us that we need to reach out to the world's pariahs.

In Luke 5:13, Jesus "reaches out and touches" a man "full of leprosy" and heals him. Keith pointed out this morning that Jesus really didn't need to touch the leper to heal him. There's instances where He simply says the word and people are healed and get up and walk. Jesus touches the leper to show compassion and love to this poor outcast. He doesn't just heal the leper- he forgives him, and shows that by His actions! Similarly, we as Christians need to reach out and touch the marginalized people in our society!

In May and June, I will be living in community with a few other members of Emmaus Anglican Church- one of whom is currently homeless, and is super excited to be moving into an apartment with Christian roommates who can help support him in prayer and help him get back on track with things! This guy is super cool, and we've had a lot of good conversations, and yet I know that in my heart there's still some kind of barrier there, so I am excited to see how God uses this to grow me in my ability to feel compassion to people who are different from me, and to reach out to them in love!

All this being said, I'm pretty tired and have to be functional tomorrow- I am taking a three day trip to Ottawa this week, and have to cram 5 days of work into 2 days. Should be fun.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Post-Easter Catching Up

Hey everyone!

Sorry it's been such a long time since my last post. Easter is always the busiest season of the year for me because of all the church services and family get-togethers and whatnot. I was going to do another post today about my daily Bible readings but I have actually fallen behind a fair bit- I am still on April 1st! So that will be my goal for this week, to catch up on two weeks' worth of readings.

In this pascal season of the church calendar, we are reminded of what is, essentially, the formative story of our faith- that is, Christ's sacrifice and resurrection, and the weight of sin that is lifted off of us through that. There's heaps of church services full of rich liturgy and lots of Scripture, and it's just such a beautiful time of year, weather-wise as well! We've had sun and mild temperatures here in Montreal for the last couple of weeks, and that is just excellent.

This year, pastor Keith decided to plan a Maundy Thursday service at Emmaus. I had never even heard of Maundy Thursday, let alone gone to a service for one, so I didn't really know what to expect. But he asked me to lead the music, so I got to take a look at the liturgy in advance and that gave me a better idea. It's a pretty neat service actually- it basically focuses on the Last Supper and has a sort of joyous but sombre feel to it, if that makes sense? We had the privilege of having Bishop-moderator Don Harvey join us for this service to help Keith give communion to the congregation.

The next day, for Good Friday, Emmaus members were encouraged to drive out to Lennoxville for a joint service with a new ANiC congregation there. So a bunch of the young adults from our church hopped in a van together and made a party out of it. One of our good friends is living out there to study at Champlain College on the Bishop's U campus, so we picked her up after the service and brought her home to surprise her family.

Saturday night, after a long evening of dinner and walking around, my girlfriend and I joined a bunch of our friends at the Newman Centre, a catholic church group on McGill's campus, for an overnight reading of the Gospel of John. There was something really awesome about a big group of young adults hanging out all night and reading the Word together in preparation for Easter Sunday. In the morning (super early) we all walked up to (theoretically) watch the sunrise on Mount Royal, where there were a few other groups already there worshipping and just having a lot of fun!

Sadly, the sun didn't quite rise this year, as it was super cloudy and threatening rain that morning. So, up there is a photo from last year, when I went up with Victory Heights, and we joined up with the Newman crowd and a few other churches that had headed up.

What I find really amazing about Easter is that it's not just a day, but a full-on season in the church calendar. So, while the secular celebrators have had their chocolate and eggs and have moved on, Christians everywhere get to keep celebrating the joy of Christ's resurrection for a few more weeks before Ascension (which is also super exciting, but we'll get to that in May)!

That's it for today. I am currently reading a lot of stuff about penal substitution, so I will probably end up writing something about that fairly soon. It's seasonally appropriate I think :P


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Bible in a Year: Week 13

Whoo! Sorry this is a day late, I was fairly busy yesterday (and by that I mean I watched hours and hours of TV and completely forgot about my blog, gasp!)

So, my Bible readings have finally brought me into Deuteronomy, and I must say I am pretty stoked to get out of the Pentateuch sometime soon. Jokes aside, it has been a really interesting read, if a bit heavy.

One thing that kind of struck me this week while reading Deuteronomy was the whole idea of Moses not being allowed to enter the promised land. As a person involved in leading ministry, that hit me really hard. I thought about how much Moses must have connected with the people he was leading, the deep bonds and relationships he built along the way, and the love he must have felt for them. I thought about how intensely sorrowful it must have been for him and for all of them when he told them that he would not be with them forever. Then I thought about how painful it would be for me, if I was in a similar situation. I wept a little, reflecting on Moses' leadership and on the humility it must have taken to stop before reaching the place he had worked so hard to get people to, and to just let all the glory go to God as His people were brought into the land He had promised them.

I pray that I would keep that in perspective while doing His work, that I would be able to understand that sometimes we can't be there for the beautifully fulfilling moments, but that we have to trust His glory and mercy to see things through to the end when we can't.