"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

“…they may be one as we are one…” a Pentecost Reflection

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I penned this reflection after reviewing a case of the B.C. Court of Appeal, Bentley v. The Diocese of New Westminster. The case set out by the court, “…tests the ability of the members of four Anglican parishes to remove themselves from a diocese of the Anglican Church”. This desire for separation contrasts strongly with God’s Pentecost call to unity in the Spirit.

God’s people have a long history of taking extreme measures to protect the church. The Great Schism involved mutual separation to protect east from west, and west from east. The Reformation carved off portions of the western church to save it, for the sake of the Gospel. The modern era with some 38,000 Christian sects confirms the popularity of physical separation to protect. Even full communion with our Lutheran brethren has not changed us in a fundamental, structural way, as an undiminished compliment of overseers and church offices attests.

Does the mystical church, Christ’s body, require our intervention to safeguard it? Will Christ fall if we fail to carve out every hint of sickness through violent separation? Does our mystical consumption of the one bread in our divided “churches” undo the real physical fracture we have welcomed?

Acts 2 recalls a gathering of God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When the apostles speak each Jew hears not just their language, but their dialect. There is no sameness in this group, but unity in difference because of the one Spirit. When the gathered Jews ask what to do, Peter replies: “Repent and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…”

This membership test of the true church requires but two actions from those who answer: repent and be baptized. God’s response is the gift of the Holy Spirit. There is no further test of belief or creed required! God’s Pentecost reality is that church is not an institution and the Spirit is not poured out onto a building; but on every individual who responds to Peter’s call. With that image of unity, why do we insist on safeguarding the salvation of our church through physical division?

It is a powerful message of what is church: not an institution, a street address, a figurehead, but everyone who repents and is baptized. There is no Jew or Greek; no Anglican or Lutheran; no orthodox or liberal; or BCP or BAS in Peter’s call – so why is it so in our world? Could it be that we place such value on our corporate structures, working groups and reports that we are willing to divide Christ’s body to sustain what was never alive in Christ? Does the Holy Spirit reside within the Anglican Church of Canada? The Diocese? That church building on the corner? Or is it with all those who have answered Peter’s call, however they may gather? In Acts 2, the answer is clear.

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Written by sameo416

June 17, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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