Kamloops Free Methodist Church

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  • “It is my right to sing in worship, as a Canadian!” Perhaps, but does it matter? What I mean, of course, is that you have Christian family all over the world living in closed states which do not offer this freedom. Take a moment to remember how our brothers and sisters in closed countries approach worship. Their worship isn't limited to singing, meeting in larger groups or comfortable seating, yet we know that the Church is thriving in those countries!
     
    In Quebec last week, a local Church (not FM) of about 200 people met defiantly without masks and sang. They were challenging the restrictions much like a BBQ-restaurant owner in Toronto did last week. Both had enthusiastic supporters and angry, concerned detractors, because our country is that kind of polarized. In fact, the Church’s neighbours held a protest against them! That means this local Church contributed to polarization, rather than bringing peace. It is also probable that a large number of people from the community will not be attending that Church in the near future. They made a choice to exercise their Canadian freedom, rather than live into their love-their-neighbour responsibility as Kingdom citizens. I hope that the word “community” is not in that Church’s name.
     
    Should Citizens of the Kingdom join an anti-mask rally in Quebec? Is this COVID season a government conspiracy to cripple the church? What about the great “re-set” - should we not be voicing our concerns? Do we not have a responsibility to speak the “truth” in all this? My response to us is this, “is a public declaration of our rights as Canadian citizens really the Church-voice that we want our community to hear?” Do we really want to be seen on the media, marching for our rights to worship? Do we want to contribute to the polarization, and the reckless use of confusing “facts” and “news”? There is One Truth that is not confusing, and this is where we need to be focused.
     
    I appreciate that as a Canadian I have rights and freedoms, but I am first of all a Citizen of the Kingdom and I choose to “seek Jesus’ Kingdom and His righteousness” above all! The Truth and Church-voice that I want my neighbours to hear and see is what we Free Methodists stand for. For instance:

    • Organizing peace initiatives between people groups, which will include: confession, repentance and reconciliation. Peace initiatives include hearing stories, joining righteous causes (i.e. clean water on reserves), community peace initiatives, lobbying government, etc. We have created an FMCIC task force to help us lean further into this;
    • Offering healing to those enslaved in sexual sin, educational campaigns about the evils connected to porn, and action against human trafficking. I mention this because 40 children were recently saved in Atlanta from sex traffickers (“Set Free Movement” can help you with this);
    • Celebrate and embrace the desire of so many to care for creation! Instead of forming strong opinions for or against climate change, chose to embrace every call to have a clean earth. Do you hear the difference? Less concerned with my opinion, and more concerned to find ways to care for creation.
    Let me suggest that fighting for our rights to sing publicly, or to not wear masks, or fighting to have a Sunday morning service just like we used to prior to COVID, is the Church flirting with being in the world and of the world. It is Canadian Christians being more concerned with their Canadian rights and freedoms, than with evangelism (1 Corinthians 9:9-13) and deference (1 Corinthians 8). We remember that in countries where there is no freedom to evangelize, still the Church thrives!
     
    FMCIC, please continue to be a shining community presence, work with your public health officer, so that every community nurse, delivery person, doctor, police officer or official would feel comfortable joining you for a Sunday service or a small group should you invite them to your church to hear and experience Gospel. Be a community presence where neighbourhood parents would be pleased to send their kids! Seems to me that the final word should belong to the One who will help make sense out of this disorienting, chaotic, polarizing season: JESUS.
     
    Time out:
    1. Take time with church family to consider expressions of worship beyond singing;
    2. Pray for the persecuted church.
    3. What are 2 primary responsibilities you have as a Kingdom citizen?
    4. Study 1 Corinthians 8. Paul had something to say about freedom and ministering to the “weaker brother”. Apply this passage to the situations addressed in this Cliff’s NotesWho is the weaker brother, and how should a mature Christian respond?”

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