Wednesday Meditation (1 Peter 2:7-10)
To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner," and "A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. .
A phrase, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people,” carries a very deep responsibility. It is wonderful to know that we are God’s people. We often don’t think about all the responsibilities that go with statements like this. As good as this statement is in telling the world that we are God’s people, it is another thing altogether to live as God’s people as well as identified by others as God’s people.
We have known for a long time that people who do not know our God. They will come to learn about and experience God through us. They will gauge how welcoming our God is by seeing how welcoming we are. They will measure God’s love by the way they are loved by us. This does not mean that they cannot tell the difference between our God and us. It simply means that their first experience of our God is by observing, interacting and experiencing us.
We become God’s ambassadors or representatives in this world. Without us, our God does not get experienced by people. It is true that God will be God without us and God will do things without us. God will call others to God-self in spite of us. Yet, for whatever reason, God also chooses to reveal God-self to the world through what and how we do. What we come to learn is that in humility we try to present God in the best possible way we know. It is done through loving as Christ loves us.
Yes, we live life as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people by taking on the responsibility to love God and our neighbours as ourselves. In this way we welcome all, we share liberally with all and we do more than what we are asked to do by laying down our lives even for our enemies. It all begins by welcoming a stranger as if that person is Christ himself who comes to share life.
Already we are into May. On this coming Sunday, after the worship service, we will share the time of refreshment by throwing a party for everyone who has a birthday in May. This has been our staple for these difficult months following COVID. In other words we have an excuse to enjoy God’s blessings with one another.
As I have been insisting for a while, as Christians of earlier times have done, that the breaking of bread together is one of the most important spiritual events. Sharing meals together not only helps us to form a community, but also becomes the basis of Christian oneness. I repeat this in order to make a slightly different point today.
In most countries around the world, birthdays are not celebrated like we do in Canada or the United States. Birthdays are remembered in some countries. They, however, are not considered to be an essential part of life. This is not because life is not taken seriously in those countries. Rather, celebrating birthdays year after year was often seen as extravagant and not important.
Yet, in Canada we have trouble figuring out the importance of breaking bread together in the way many other people around the world do. That is because in Canada we are very family oriented and our hospitality is somewhat limited. As a country where cold weather keeps us in more than one-half of the year, we interact far less with neighbours or strangers than people of the warm countries. That is, we do not know too many neighbours. We keep to ourselves. Breaking bread is not part of our daily routine.
Birthdays are very private celebrations. We invite our family and friends. We do not invite people who are not close to us. Slowly, however, we are learning what it means to break bread together not only with people we like, but also with strangers. We are opening up in ways that we have never done before. To many people who are used to breaking bread even with strangers (we see this a lot when we travel abroad and we are invited into their homes and parties just for meeting them in a cafe or a bar) what we are saying is strange. However, this kind of open invitation to share meals or parties together is very familiar to many people around the world. We are catching up to what others are doing.
In sharing this celebration of May birthdays, we share in a very human way what it means to become one with each other in Christ. Strangers become friends at the Lord’s Table, for all tables that we sit are his table to which we are invited. This is why we invite everyone freely to participate in these festivities. Afterall, Sundays are known as Feast Days of the Lord where we are fed.
Before COVID, we were rethinking what our church should be. We had gathered a few people, both long time church members and some very new to our church to discuss what a future church might look like. Listening to everyone’s view, an idea began to emerge. Everyone seemed to be thinking that a church should be a community hub. We were thinking in terms of sharing our facilities with various community groups as well as providing many programs that would invite people to join and have fun.
It is fascinating how our church has become a community hub at the moment proactively. It is serving totally different communities of people than we have imagined. Before COVID, we were talking about programs for mothers and infants, health and nutrition programs, as well as social and spiritual programs for those who live nearby the church.
Today we have become a community hub for people from all over the world. Today I was taking names of people from South America, Middle East and Africa for English conversations. In the hall we had Ontario Works, Legal Aid Lawyers, District School Board of Niagara, French School Board, Service Canada, YMCA, and Welland Heritage Centre doing settlement work. On any given day, you can hear English, Spanish, Urdu, Arabic, Turkish as well as French in our church.
Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14
We will be celebrating Mother’s Day Sunday with lunch. Soup and Sandwiches will be on the menu. If you would like to invite your mom, feel free. Treat your mother on our account on Sunday.
Cinnamon Bun Tuesdays
We will be re-starting the Cinnamon Bun Tuesdays on Tuesday (of course) May 23 at 10 am. Please mark your calendars. Let others know. Come and join us.