Monday, March 27, 2006

WHy Do I Do This???

THis coming SUnday we reach the end of the sermon series on the church I have been doing during Lent. Some were really fun (the drama about different ways of serving communion). Some were challenging (the discussions about the meaning of Baptism and last weeks Worship --What is it Good For?). One was downright impossible (Membership has Its Privileges -- and Responsibilities -- one of the worst sermons I have preached, just couldn't find a way in to the topic). And for the last we have Do You United Church Folks Believe Anything?

Try to explain what the United Church believes? In one sermon? Apologetics has never really been my strongpoint. And believe me, people are waiting for this one -- at least 2 have said they really wished they could be here for it. Here are the opening comments I posted on the church blog, Riverview Rolls On:

The sermon title is a two-edged question. On the one hand, United Church people have been accused of having no set beliefs. On the other, we are sometimes accused of being the church where anything is acceptable. And neither is true.

A story. I was working one of my first shifts at a new job. My relief comes in and learns that I am a candidate for ministry. "What church?" she asks. "United." "Oh, the social club."

"The Social Club". Not really a church, in her estimation. Certainly not a proper one anyway. My hunch, after working with her a while, is that we didn't believe the "right" things.

It is difficult to condense what the United Church believes. We are such a diverse group that there is almost always someone who will disagree. But we have a belief system. We have a way of expressing ourselves. For more on that take a look at the national website (see the link in the sidebar), particularly this section and this page.

This SUnday come and share as I, who was born and raised in this church, who learned what it means to be church in this denomination, try to explain what the United Church belief system is and a bit about how it developed/is always developing. And maybe, just maybe, we will then have an answer to the question Do you folks believe anything?

NOw I look ahead to building this sermon and shudder. Is the task more than I am up to? And how do we define what we believe when we are as diverse a group as the United Church of Canada?

PS> THis is post #300 on this blog!


  1. The longer I am in the United Church, the more I tend to regard such comments as your former co-workers as a badge of honour. To be dissed by conservatives is maybe not such a bad thing.

  2. The way I tend to look at it is this way: if we cannot challenge and push our own edges as preachers, how can we expect to challenge and push our congregations in their Christian journey in the world.

    May God bless you with an understanding of how we as the United Church come together from diverse backgrounds in order to do His great work.

  3. This is a tough one Gord. I would be really interested to see what you arrive at for your sermon.

    I recently attended a lecture given by the leader of the Canadian Progressive Christianity movement (who is an ordained United Church type). During the Q&A session, I asked, "What happens to Jesus in Progressive Xnity?"

    Her response was that Jesus was welcome in that he was a man who followed God's way, in much the same way that you and I might.

    Then she clinched it -- "There is no room for Christ in Progressive Christianity"

    Huh? How is it Christianity then? In the Eight Point statement that the group proclaims, the name of Jesus is not included.

    I realize that my theology is a bit more traditional than most, but come on. It seems to me that in order to be United Church, one would at the very least need to recognize the uniqueness of Jesus.

    If we don't do that, how do we differ from the Unitarian Uversalists?

  4. According to one of the websites the 8 points have changed over time. There are 2 versions listed

    The Canadian website list uses words like "roots" but little more than that.

  5. The speaker explained that when the Canadian group was formed they changed the 8 points to suit the particular theology of the original board of directors.