Our World Belongs to God 54

I don't have to tell you that it was tough going back to worshipping online-only this past Sunday. Just when we were starting to get a bit of rhythm being together, we had to close again.  No church wants to close, and no church council wants to close the church.  But the collective uneasiness was building all through last week. By Friday morning people were saying they would not be coming.  Even though in Friday's press conferences we were not ordered to close, it was still the right thing to do to help keep our cities safe.

So here we are, still giving virtual elbow bumps after seven months.  In some ways, we've all gotten used to this. But in other ways, we are readjusting every day. And that is stressful.

Do everything you can to stay connected. Get outside while the weather is still cooperating.  Find excuses to call one another and say hello.  Reach out and help a stranger. And do join us on Sunday, online, as we share the Lord's Supper together.


We continue on this week with the "Contemporary Testimony: Our World Belongs to God." 

Paragraphs 1-6: Preamble (April 11-29)
Paragraphs 7-12: Creation (April 30-May 8)
Paragraphs 13-17: Fall (May 11-15)
Paragraphs 18-22: Redemption (May 18-22)
Paragraphs 23-27: Jesus Christ (May 25-29)
Paragraphs 28-30: Holy Spirit (June 1-2, 5)

Paragraphs 31-33: Revelation (June 8-10)
Paragraphs 34-40: God's New People
(June 11-19)

Paragraphs 41-54 The Mission of God's People (June 23-)

Paragraph 54 (Today)
Followers of the Prince of Peace
are called to be peacemakers,
promoting harmony and order
and restoring what is broken.
We call on our governments to work for peace
and to restore just relationships.
We deplore the spread of weapons
in our world and on our streets
with the risks they bring
and the horrors they threaten.
We call on all nations to reduce their arsenals
to what is needed
in the defense of justice and freedom.
We pledge to walk in ways of peace,
confessing that our world belongs to God;
he is our sure defense.

[Isaiah 2:1-4 expresses God’s will for peace, and Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers . . .” (Matthew 5:9).]

These are most certainly fine sounding words in this last paragraph of this weighty section of our Contemporary Testimony. But they are also dangerous words.  Peacekeeping is dangerous business, as our Canadian military troops who have been deployed in peacekeeping roles around the globe can testify. 

But Jesus did not come to establish a Pax Romana, Pax Britannica or Pax Americana.  He came to bring his shalom to hearts, relationships and nations. And most importantly, between humans and God.

I once knew a quiet, humble young Christian man who, using only gentle words, disarmed a machete-wielding man making threats from his porch.  I do not recommend you try this. But we may be called upon to bring peace to, say, the nasty arguments that arise after a parking lot fender-bender.  Even this is risky busness.

We are all dismayed by the flagrant rise of open hatred over the past four years.  It is now to the degree that we have to be prepared to verbally counter strangers on transit system or in the grocery store when verbal arrows are slung. 

We are often reminded that much more serious things are also going on in our city.  We received this item for prayer overnight from our regional denominational body, Classis Toronto: 

The Canadian Council of Churches as part of its dialogue and prayer for other faith groups has sent a message of support to the National Muslim Christian Liaison Committee in regards to the Toronto Mosque Threat. The NMCLC sent out a statement regarding the threat. In it it states “As people of faith we are deeply distressed that communities gathered for worship have become targets of violence and we share in the pain, outrage and grief of our Muslim siblings.” If you are able and willing to hold them and others in the community in prayer, please do so. In private or as a body of believers.

Today's song is recommended by Sandy, an ad hoc choir version Matisyahu's "One Day." It reminds me of an unforgetable pair I met in Israel. She was a Palestinian Muslim who had a brother killed by the Israeli army; he was an Israeli Jew who had a sister killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber; they were travelling around the country, speaking and organizing for forgiveness and peace.  It is possible.

Prayer, advocacy, and action. These are three ways of involving ourselves in peacemaking. 

Go with this blessing:

The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you shalom.

Pastor Mark

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