Rev. Merv Lanctot
St. Andrews on the Red St. Matthews
cell: 204- 880-7727
Friday, May 29, 2020
I love the story that we read this Sunday on The Feast of Pentecost.
It is an amazing story of the beginning of the church. It had been 50 days since the Resurrection, 10 days since Jesus had ascended into heaven and the disciples were waiting together in prayer for the promise of the comforter, the promise of the Holy Spirit.
They were in the upper room meeting together! Suddenly there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm in the skies above them and it filled the house where they were meeting. Then what looked like flames or tongues of fire settled on each of them. Everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance.
It really must have been something! They poured out of the Upper Room into the streets below. People thought the disciples were drunk; but it was only nine o’clock in the morning. The excitement, the joy, as they descended into the crowds below, ready to tell one and all what had happened. Peter preached the sermon of his life and 2000 people came into a relationship with Christ.
The meeting in the upper room may have started as a contemplative time of prayer but now there was excitement. There was joy and laughter and people thought it more like a party than a prayer meeting. God touched his people in a most unconventional, remarkable way. And the Church was born.
The beginning of the church was not about buildings, or liturgies or songs that were sung. It was about a message. The Church grew because of the message of Jesus Christ who lived among us. Who lived, and died and on the third day rose again. Who ascended to the right hand of the Father and sent the Holy Spirit to be with us. To comfort, to guide and direct His church: The people of God!
It was almost 300 years before Christian buildings became the norm for worship services. We love our buildings! But the church is much more than just the building we worship in.
We are getting closer to opening St. Andrews and St. Matthews. Bishop Geoff has sent us a directive that allows for a protocol to be put in place for church services for up to 25 people. He also recommends that anyone over 65 and those with vulnerable medical conditions should stay home at this time. So, even though we are getting closer to opening. We are not quite there yet! The Corporation meeting this week via the internet have decided that until we receive the go ahead from the Diocese and the Province where 50 people can meet together, we will not have public worship in the buildings. However, saying that, we are going to go ahead and put in place a protocol for reopening. So when the time comes we are ready to go! The Corporation along with Vestry will make that known to everyone at the appropriate time.
As I have been contemplating the whole idea of opening the buildings, especially as we approach the Feast of Pentecost, I came across a letter written to the Diocese of Missouri as they are contemplating opening worship services.
From the Bishop-elect of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Missouri, Deon K. Johnson:
“The work of the church is essential.
The work of caring for the lonely, the marginalized, and the oppressed is essential.
The work of speaking truth to power and seeking justice is essential.
The work of being a loving, liberating, and life giving presence in the world is essential.
The work of welcoming the stranger, the refugee and the undocumented is essential.
The work of reconciliation and healing and caring is essential.
The church does not need to “open” because the church never “closed”. We who make up the Body of Christ, the church, love God and our neighbours and ourselves so much that we will stay away from our buildings until it is safe. We are the church.”
If you have any thoughts, concerns or ideas about opening our buildings please call or email me. I would love to talk with you.
Be safe, be well!
Faith Grows in the Soil of Hope!