Knox 16 Monthly News Bulletin – January 2023
- On January 14, 2023
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My hope is that you have had a good beginning to this new year!
As part of our desire to keep everyone informed and up to speed with what is happening at the church, Session has requested that I send out a monthly bulletin. In it I’ll include some important announcements, dates to remember and an update on our financial position.
This week I have also attached the Reflection from last Sunday. If you missed worship last week, I encourage you to read it before Sunday as it links with the reflection that we have this week as part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
If you have questions as you read over the bulletin, please send me an e-mail or speak to me on Sunday.
With Gratitude & Blessing,
Announcements & Updates
- Scottish Themed Meet-n-Eat: Sunday January 22nd
- Wearing of kilts is encouraged!
- The Haggis will be addressed!
- Knox 16 – Annual Meeting: Sunday, March 26th
- Please plan to attend this very important congregational meeting
- Garage Sale: Saturday May 13th
- Plans are underway for a garage sale for the spring … so hold your stuff.
- If you have “good items” we will be selling them on-line – see Rev. Pat or Chris McLaughlin to arrange for their sale
- Your help in planning the event or working on the day would be greatly appreciated!
- 190th Anniversary Celebration Committee
- This year Knox PC Sixteen will celebrate its 190thAnniversary and would like to celebrate in a special way. If you would like to be part of the team that is planning the celebration, please let Rev. Pat or a member of Session know that you are interested.
- Total Income$ 80,452
- Total Expenses$ 88,317
- Excess Income/Expenses($ 7,863)
WINTER CANCELLATION POLICY
In the event of inclement winter weather, where it may be treacherous to be driving, the Knox Sixteen cancellation policy with take effect.
Cancellation of church service is the joint responsibility of the Minister and the Clerk of Session. The decision to cancel the worship service will be made by 8:00 am on the morning of church service.
All congregation members will be advised of the cancellation by email by the Clerk of Session. If we do not have your email address, you will be contacted by telephone by your assigned Elder, as soon as possible as to the cancellation.
The Cancellation Notice will also be posted on the Knox 16 website.
Please check your email and the website on Sunday morning for the Notice of Cancellation.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact either the Minister, or the Clerk of Session, or your assigned Elder.
- Minister – Rev. Patrick Gushue905-466-0027
- Clerk – Brenda Connell905-516-1534
- Bryce McBain905-827-8455
- Cathie Best905-878-7409
- Gord Petrie905-878-6150
Reflection – January 8, 2023, Taking Stock
Today we celebrate the Epiphany. We commemorate this event by remembering the visitation of the Magi and the revelation of the incarnation of God as Jesus. For the Magi the encounter with the living God occurred following an arduous physical journey. And I fully expect that it was also a difficult spiritual journey as well – one filled with questions and wrong turns as well as doubts and expectations.
For us, the modern-day seekers of God, the epiphany provides an opportunity to take a few moments to pause and take stock of who we are and where we are upon our spiritual journey. And, as such, that is what I propose that we will do: take stock of who we are as Christians with-in this Christian community and wrestle with some of the questions, doubts and expectations that we have as we engage in our spiritual journey – in the hope of deepening our relationship with the living God and engaging the world as Christian disciples who model the teaching of Jesus.
So here is the plan for the next 3 weeks:
So let’s begin by raising some questions that may create some discord. What does the world think about Christianity? We can begin by acknowledging the fact that for the last 6-or 7-decades Christianity has been in decline in the Western World. While most countries in the Western world were historically almost exclusively Christian, over the past number of decades we have seen a shift away from religious institutions holding a central place of power and influence over society. And we need to look no further that the white-hair and the empty pews to conclude that interest in how the mission of Jesus Christ has manifested itself is waning and that many people are critical of how they see the church engaging the world.
Let’s face it, criticism of Christianity has a long history which stretches back to the initial formation of our religion during the Roman Empire. Critics have challenged Christian beliefs and teachings as well as Christian actions, from the Crusades, through the Inquisitions, to the discovery of new lands and the subjugation of indigenous peoples. When we take an honest look at the Christian church through the perspective of those who do not hold Christian beliefs – and even through the lens of many of us who do – it is not difficult to conclude that somewhere, somehow the fundamental teachings of Jesus have gotten lost. (pause)
It is poignant for us to remember that it was the Doctrine of Discovery that was the foundation on which the relationship between the Christian European nations and the indigenous peoples who inhabited, what has become to be known as North and South America, was founded. Beginning in the mid-fifteenth century, the Doctrine of Discovery was used by European monarchies, as a means of legitimizing the colonization of lands outside of Europe. It was issued in 1493, the year after Christopher Columbus made his historic voyage across the Atlantic and continues to impact Indigenous Peoples throughout the world.
The primary purpose of the Doctrine of Discovery was to provide a framework for Christian explorers, in the name of the King and Queen under whose banner they sailed, to lay claim to territories uninhabited by Christians. If the lands were vacant, then they could be defined as “discovered” and sovereignty claimed. Thus the presumption was that lands inhabited by beings other than European Christians were vacant and were there for the taking … and by extension within the framework of this doctrine of the church, Indigenous Peoples in the Americas were considered non-human.
The words of Sir John A. MacDonald, a Protestant Christian and Canada’s first Prime Minister, chilling amplify how the doctrines of the church have influenced how society operates, when, in defense of the Residential School System, he proclaimed that the schools were intended to take the Indian out of the child. And we must not forget that it was the mainline churches that operated the schools and who were responsible for what occurred within their walls in the name of the Gospel. (pause)
And there are other church doctrines that we could consider as well. The Doctrine of Original Sin, for example, which was first formulated by St. Augustine of Hippo sometime in the 3rdcentury and became central to the faith and teaching of the early Protestant reformers including Luther and Calvin. The words of Paul to the Romans that articulate that “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23) were, and continue to be interpreted in many Christian circles, in a way that teaches that humans live in a state of total depravity. That sin has corrupted us to the core – that humans are sinners through and through and that given the choice human beings will always choose to sin rather than not to sin. As the noted reformed theologian R.C. Sproul was known to say, “We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners.” However, through this interpretation, original sin is not just this inherited spiritual disease or defect in human nature; it also includes the ‘condemnation’ that goes with that fault ….and proports that humanity is in a state of being that requires salvation.
Which brings us to how many Christians understand the saving work of Jesus. The Reformers, specifically Calvin and Luther, articulated a theory of atonement which focused on Jesus’s death on the cross as the central act of his mission. The result was a teaching that Jesus died to satisfy God’s wrath against human sin. Jesus is punished in the place of sinners in order to satisfy the justice of God and the legal demand of God to punish sin. In the light of Jesus’ death, God can now forgive the sinner because Jesus has been punished in the place of the sinner, in this way meeting the retributive requirements of God’s justice.
As a note, today, this basic theory of the atonement, with slight variation, is perhaps the most dominant understanding of Jesus’ mission especially among Roman Catholics as well as Reformed and Evangelical Protestants. And when coupled with the Doctrine of Original Sin these theories of Jesus mission have created, I believe, an incorrect understanding of human nature, an inaccurate understanding of God’s reconciling justice and a misleading understanding of the life and mission of Jesus that has distorted what Jesus was all about. (pause)
I expect that some of the things that I have suggested may ring true. And I also expect that some of the things that I have said may be challenging to some of the beliefs that you have been taught and have held for a long time. And if this is the case … good. As I mentioned my objective this morning was to create discord and raise questions that will allow us to take stock of where we are and who we are as a Christian community. (pause)
Now something else to consider. Not long ago, I came across a statement that was a self-critique of Christianity and the ways that Christians have historically, as well as in modern times, been unable to be accepting of the diversity and different ways of expressing our faith and engaging the world. The statement went like this: “Our founder was focused on love, but we have instead, been focused on our founder. When will we realize that the best way to honor our founder is not to be about him, but, rather, to be about what he was about?
There is no question about what Jesus was about. He didn’t say, “by this will all people know that you are my disciples – by your doctrinal purity.” Rather, Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13: 35)
Nor did Jesus say, “This is the first and greatest commandment: to carry out the liturgy faithfully every Sunday … and sing lots of hymns and say “Praise Jesus” a lot! No, when asked which commandment in the law is the greatest Jesus replied, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22: 36-40)
Nor do we find Paul writing, “Now these three things remain: liturgy, polity and inerrancy (papal or Biblical), and the greatest of these is inerrancy.” No in his letter to the Christian community in Corinth Paul wrote these words …11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see only a reflection, as in a mirror, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love remain, these three, and the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13: 11-13)
If … If love is the core of the Jesus teaching, then perhaps this is the lens that we should use as we reflect upon who we are and where we are as a Christian community as well as the how we will engage the world in a way that models the teachings of Jesus. (pause)
I will give the final word this morning to the Rev. Dr. Charles Fensham, who is Professor of Theology at Knox College. He taught me that the Presbyterian Church in Canada is a Reformed Church that is still reforming. It is still reforming because it must, because the world continues to change and our understanding of the world and the God who created it continues to change as well. My hope is that this has given us something to think about and consider as we take stock of who we are as a Christian Community who are disciples of Jesus. Amen