HAPPY NEW YEAR! The Church Year begins today, the first Sunday of Advent.
All religions have a sacred calendar, a means to remind us that we are not circumscribed by merely earthly things, that something bigger and more real is going on than what the eyes may behold.
The Christian Church Year is built upon and around Jesus – His first coming, his earthly ministry, his death, burial, and resurrection, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the promise that he will come again. Built into the Church Year is the constant reminder that the Name of our God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The flourishing abundance that is in our faith is rooted in the overflowing life of the Trinity, where in eternal love and mutual interdependency the three Persons of the Trinity invite us into their fellowship and joy.
The Scripture readings during Advent focus on the Second Coming of the Messiah, not the prophecies of his first coming. It is a reminder that as he came in fulfillment of prophecy so he will come again as the prophets have foretold.
For some years now I have ordered the Church Year Calendar published by University Hill Congregation of Vancouver, BC. All of its artwork is commissioned by the church explicitly for the calendar. The artwork is suitable for framing after the Church Year has been completed.
Founders Ministries posts ‘Only Men May be Pastors,’ and Instagram deletes it as ‘Hate Speech.’ Christians number over 2 1/2 billion. Two billion of them practice the belief that pastoring is male specific – Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and the majority of Evangelicals.
Make me hate evil and cling to that which is good. Take from me my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh. Deliver me from my idols. Take from me the love of sin. Put your Spirit within me, and cause me to walk in your way. – F.B. Meyer
I think this assertion by Yoram Hazony is true – nationalism is an effective counterweight to toxic ideological extremism. The 20th century saw the globe swept by waves of the ideology of fascism and marxism. These ideologies destroyed place, traditions, and rich culture. Trying to turn a nation into simply an idea before which all must give way offers a utopia that soon turns into a hell. Capitalism, too, must give room to civilizational cultures and traditions, even with its powers of creative destruction. People will not become “universal men.” They have tribal structures in their DNA. To belong to no place, no tongue, no religion, no culture is anti-human. It can’t be done.
Thus we see the uprising of nationalisms across the globe that build seawalls against the forces of homogenization. Some automatically claim this is racist and xenophobic. This is not a thoughtful response. And some claim the name of Christ in trying to trample down these boundary markers in the mistaken notion, I believe, that all such markers are anti-Christ.
The fact is that people cannot become placeless, tongueless, cultureless, religionless. To ask them to do so is cruel and a form of gnosticism which denies the reality of a “this worldness.” It was gnosticism which was the primary adversary of true Christianity in its beginnings, and it took a heroic effort to defeat it. But through church history it constantly reappears, as it is doing today.
Large swaths of the Evangelical world are falling under its influence. Common sense Evangelicals are resisting it, though they are criticized by their elites as neanderthals and xenophobes. It has created a division and a intrusive distrust that is so deep that the difficult to build Evangelical institutions are showing signs of cracks that are unrepairable.
We are a rather diffuse lot anyway and it is in our DNA to innately distrust hierarchies. Such hierarchies as we have now have overreached and are attacking their host body, Evangelical Pew Guy. This apparently is a time for redefining and building new networks. It won’t be long before formerly trusted Evangelical denominations become a new version of the mainline denominations, which forsook their confidence in supernatural Christianity rooted in an inspired Word from God in the Bible and were battered by the isms of their day.
Evangelicals always prided themselves that they stood fast. But not so fast! Spend enough time at an Evangelical Christian College today and you will see the cracks opened up in spades. Once Evangelical Pew Guy figures out how to connect with others of his ilk apart from the institutions that have been built since the early 1900s and they (we) will have ignition. Just sayin’.
All life is the management of risk, not its elimination. Walter Wriston