Category Archives: Blog

Where are we going? (Maj (Padre) Kenneth MacRae)

Some would call it fun. I called it slightly terrifying. I just finished taking my LOSV course. (Light over snow vehicle…in other words a snowmobile course). I have heard people bragging about going 100km over the snow, jumping ditches, skidding around turns and having a blast on the machines. For me 50-60km was fast enough. Side hill driving is not fun for it always felt that the machine would tip over. The worst part was wearing glasses. They kept fogging up which really doesn’t help me to see where I was going while driving a death machine. So I had to crack my visor a bit to get cool air in. Thankfully it was only -20 or less. (Strange how after living in -50 degree weather -20 feels warm!) Unfortunately the cool air drifting in would start to cause frostbite on my face. If I sat on the machine the windshield blocked the wind. But over bumpy ground you are supposed to stand up for better control. I was constantly fighting the elements and trying to stay alive. Fun is not the word I would use to describe the course.

The good news is that I got a lot of prayer time in. Mostly it was, “Lord…keep me alive!” I was also praying for the group with me, and for the wonderful people I minister to in Yellowknife. At the beginning of the year people would say that this is the year for clear vision 20/20. As I literally fought to see the path I was taking on the snowmobile, I also wondered what path Christ wants us to take in this world. Think about Philippians 3: 15 “So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision – you’ll see it yet!”

Sadly I think a lot of people in our churches just go along for the ride. We may have an official vision statement that sounds wonderful but then we can ignore it. We tend not to think about the direction we are going. We tend to react to situations. Finances are low. We must give more, hold more fund raisers, etc. A Sunday school teacher quit. We must find a new one. I believe it is much better to truly reflect on where we are going and how each of us (not just the session) plays a part in God’s plan for the world. Who knows how the journey will fair. It may be fun. It may be terrifying. As long as the hand is on the throttle we are going somewhere.

Maj (Padre) Kenneth MacRae
Joint Task Forth North – Yellowknife, NWT.

God loves us just the way we are and … (Janet Taylor)

Close your eyes, and think for a minute about someone you love. A relative. A friend. Picture their face, hear their voice in your mind…imagine yourself sitting with them. Maybe you’re sharing a cup of tea in front of the fireplace, your feet up on an ottoman and your lap covered with a cozy blanket. Or maybe you’re dreaming of summer – it will come, I promise! – and you and your beloved are sitting in the shade of a spreading tree, sipping lemonade and watching the butterflies hover lazily over the grass. Have you got the image solidly in your mind?

Now I want you to imagine telling that person how you feel about them. Tell your beloved all that happens in your heart when you’re around them, how they fill your life with joy and laughter, or how you know that with that special person you always feel at peace. Share in your mind what you’d say…

Did you want anything about your beloved to change? If anything did change, would it matter? Would it matter if your beloved lost a limb, or was transfigured by tragedy? Would you still love that person?

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Would your love for those you hold dear bear and believe, hope and endure all things?

I appreciate the expression, “God loves you exactly the way you are – and has no intentions of leaving you that way!” And it’s true – every bit as true as it is of us. When we think of those we love, we want them to grow. We want them to experience new things and gain a deeper understanding of both themselves and the world around them, of their relationship with God and their relationships with others. We don’t wish for stagnancy. We don’t want them to be like a prairie slough, so still that algae forms on the surface and the depths turn murky. No! We want those we love to be living water – water that moves and tumbles, gurgles with laughter and reshapes the shoreline wherever it passes.

Jesus was baptized in living water – a moving river. When we baptize, if we don’t have a river to baptize in, we pour the water into the font…we splash it around and move it…it’s living water. We are invited into a life of change and growth, of renewal and rebirth. We are invited to move and tumble, laugh, and reshape the world around us through the love and grace of God which live inside us.

God loves us just the way we are  – and has no intentions of leaving us this way! Life in the living water of God will always draw us in to be reshaped, to grow, to be renewed and reborn. Life with God, who bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things is always an adventure!

The Rev Janet Taylor
Interim Moderator, Sherwood Park Presbyterian Church

MY FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS STORY (Steve Haughland)

He was born in a small village in a far-flung corner of the Roman Empire. He was the child of a peasant-girl – barely out of her teens and with little to commend her, except an obedient heart. His father, a man with rough edges and rougher hands, had equally little to commend him – except the hint of a wonderful pedigree and a willingness to do right by his kin.

When the time came for him to enter the world, a borrowed cattle stall at the end of a hard journey, was the only place they could find for him. In the middle of the night. In a place unfamiliar.  Surrounded by the smell and the sweat of beasts of burden. The object of curiosity for shepherds and locals and travelers alike.

He was only days old when his family became refugees. Forced to flee to a foreign country and dependent upon the kindness of strangers, his first months were spent in a place not his home. Upon returning, his lot would be the obscurity of village life and wielding the simple tools of a carpenter’s mallet and hammer.

When he was thirty years of age, he left his home and became a preacher, walking the dusty roads of Palestine with a message and a vision all his own. For a little while people became curious, believed,  listened, watched, and then waited for the inevitable to happen.

He was only thirty-three when public opinion, finally, turned, and highest and mightiest in the land plotted against him for the lowest and basest of motives. Abandoned by his friends, turned over to his enemies, he was forced to endure the mockery of a trial. Silent before his accusers, he offered no word in his own defense, but bowed his head until he was reduced, finally, to an object of scorn and pity.

Forced to carry the instrument of his own execution, he was nailed to a cross between two thieves.

While he lay dying, his executioners gambled for his only possessions – his clothing. After he was dead, only the pity of a wealthy man secured for him a borrowed grave.

Twenty one centuries have passed since many thought him gone forever. Yet today, the world has never escaped his words, his deeds, or his vision. He never wrote a book.  But all the libraries in the world could not contain the books written about him. He was neither a politician, nor a professor, and never attended a college or university. Yet, many looked to him for wisdom, and many called him Rabbi, and Teacher.

He never had a wife or children. Yet for 2000 years the Church that bears his name has proudly called herself his bride, and millions more gladly claim him as their brother and sibling.

He had neither wealth nor prestige. Yet, with only a few loaves and fishes he fed thousands. He never traveled more than two hundred miles from where he was born.  But he knew the deepest depths of the human soul, and the highest aspirations of the human spirit.  He was not a counselor, yet his words, and his touch, could bring joy and freedom to the most troubled heart.

He was not a warrior. And yet, at the mere mention of his name demons trembled, and the mighty feared to ask him even the slightest question. He did not demand to be worshiped or adored. But without his command to be silent, even the stones beneath his feet could not be kept from singing.

He did none of the things that one associates with greatness. And yet, in his presence sinners found forgiveness. The lame walked. The blind received sight. The deaf heard. The dumb spoke. Lepers were cleansed. The weak given courage. The poor given hope. The broken-hearted given joy. And the self-righteous and the unforgiving received their come-uppance.

Twenty one centuries later, and the world tries still in vain to find a category in which to place him, and a box in which to lock him away. And no wonder. Even today, no philosophy, religion, no theologian, no personality….has touched the lives of human beings on this earth as deeply, as profoundly, as his. His “One Solitary Life.”

This holy season, as we honour the birth of the one who was “so wonderfully, completely human He was divine,” may faith, hope and love unite us to him once more. May our lives be joined to his, and may his life and ours be “solitary” no longer….!

Adapted and expanded from: “ONE SOLITARY LIFE”

Rev. Steve (Haughland), Westminster Church, Chauvin, AB

Salt & Light (Janet Taylor)

Jesus say that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world; like the disciples, we having grabbed hold of Christ, determined to follow, and Jesus is telling us who we are – we are salt and light – and he’s telling us what we are to do.[1]

We are the salt of the earth. It’s not that someday, in some perfect future, we will be salt. It’s now. It’s here. We are the salt. And it’s not just in our congregations. Not just for ourselves. We are the salt of the earth. That’s a big mission field. That’s why we support churches struggling in Africa, and inner city missions. We are salt for the whole earth.

In Ancient Israel, salt was an important preservative. It was a symbol of covenant[2] in Leviticus Chapter 2 when God tells the Hebrews “Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings.” It’s used to purify sacrifices in Exodus and Ezekiel. It’s used by orthodox Jews as part of the process for preparing meat under dietary laws to this day.[3]

Laying aside contemporary concerns about high blood pressure and salt intake, it’s the flavour of salt – it’s saltiness – that gives it identity and purpose.[4] Without the saltiness it really isn’t useful for anything.

Only one thing can make salt lose its saltiness, and that’s dilution.[5] If I put four tablespoons of salt into a glass of water and dissolve it, it becomes undrinkable. If I put three grains of salt in a glass of water, I won’t even know it’s there.

How do we, as Christians, dilute the Gospel, and in so doing, render ourselves flavourless? Doug Hare offers this warning: “Any church that adapts itself so completely to the (unchurched) world that it’s distinctive calling is forgotten has rendered itself useless.”[6] When do we fail to bring our zest to situations? Equally importantly, why? Jesus knew why, and he addresses it in his very next sentence.

Jesus goes on to say that we are the light of the world. What stops light? Solid objects. Bushels. Bowls. Walls. Barriers. Our unique flavour and zest, given to us by the Gospel, not only gets diluted – we hide it.

Just as Christ said we are salt, we are light, and again, the mission field is global. We shine in our small corners and Christ gives us a brightness in our daily interactions with others. Light. Science tells us that light moves the fastest of anything on earth, and even in a vacuum, it doesn’t dissipate….its waves and particles keep on traveling.[7]

Light is the energy which helps plants grow. It can be focused for specific uses.[8] It gives everything in the world colour. All the colours of the rainbow are contained within white light, which bounces off or is absorbed by different objects in specific ways. Then the human eye and brain together translate the bouncing light into colour.[9]

In this place, and definitely in this time, it might be tempting to dilute our saltiness or dim our light. Identifying as a Christian can be uncomfortable for us and for our congregations. It’s not easy to choose the way of light in the workplace. We risk judgement, or attack, or insult. It’s challenging to maintain our distinctive zest by being ethical consumers. When we shine light on injustice or pain or greed there can be backlash. That’s frightening.

And yet…. it is salt that stimulates thirst.[10] God will use our flavour and zest to stimulate thirst in those around us. “Where are these living waters that you speak of?” asked the Samaritan Woman, and was given Jesus Christ.

And it’s light that turns the seasons, changing trees from bare, vulnerable emptiness to vibrant and life-giving abundance. God will use our light to fill barren places with hope, and bring lost people home to him.

As we travel toward Advent, preparing for the coming of Jesus into the waiting world, may our proclamation be made through our saltiness and our light.

The Rev. Janet Taylor
Braeside Church, St Albert, Alberta


[1] Ronald Allen. Feasting on the Word.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Isaac Klein. A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice.

[4] Craddock, Fred et al. Preaching the New Common Lectionary.

[5] W. F. Albright & C. S. Mann. Anchor Bible Commentary – Matthew.

[6] Douglas Hare. Interpretation – Matthew. (I have replaced the word “secular” with the word “unchurched”

[7] http://study.com/academy/lesson/how-does-light-travel-lesson-for-kids.html

[8] Marcia Riggs. Feasting on the Word.

[9] http://www.zmescience.com/science/physics/what-gives-colour/

[10] Charles Cook. Feasting on the Word.

Remembrance (Charlie McNeil)

Shannon and I were on the main street of Vermilion.  We’d had coffee in a really neat bistro.  Coming out of the bistro we noticed a sandwich sign.

The sign wished everyone a happy Remembrance Day!

Both Shannon and I felt that was a rather odd way of relating to Remembrance Day!  Happy and remembrance of war, conflict, death, injury seems incongruent.  Although, as with life in all its challenges, there is happiness in the midst of all that contradicts happiness!  Perhaps happiness and love can weigh in against things like conflict and war to help those involved overcome as they move through the valley of the shadow of death.

In contemplating remembrance I wondered what the word remembrance calls for – especially when we consider the word and action(s) it represents around the time of November 11?

There is another reference and experience in being called to remembrance.  This comes in the celebration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  Jesus is remembered as calling upon His people to embrace the Sacrament in remembrance of Him!

As I pondered the meaning of the word remembrance it struck me that it would be helpful to check out the Greek word which the English word remembrance represents.  So I went on line and did some digging into the Biblical Greek language.

I looked at a variety of sources and one that really caught my attention talked about remembrance in terms of process and journey.  The Greek word for remembrance can be unpacked as indicating that we are to get … up, participate in completing a process, turn the mind towards whatever it is we are remembering.  Apparently most properly, remembrance means to recollect by going through a process – i.e. to journey where the remembrance leads (extends) to. (Bible Hub)

This sense of journey struck me as important.  Clearly its not a journey we do in one day or for an hour or so on a day designated for remembrance.  The journey is one which is concurrent with our lives.  Where we go. What we do.  How we get there. By what ways and means we live life, practice faith, and interact one with another.

I am not a pacifist by any stretch of the imagination.  I am not one who can easily turn the other cheek.  I have never been called to serve in the Canadian Armed forces, either in times of war or times of peace making and peace keeping.  I do not know how I would relate under fire, and am thankful that I probably will never be tested in that way!

The journey of remembrance is one that is very different here in Canada than say in Syria, Burkina Faso, eastern Ukraine, and even a place like Hong Kong.  People who have borne the burden of violence, hatred, persecution, and death have journeyed a life time in what was really a few months or years.

I wonder if people who are refugees (those seeking refuge) are consciously more thankful for a country like Canada than native born and raised Canadians?  I wonder if people who were denied the gift of voting in free and fair elections, and whose friends and neighbours were killed trying to do so in their homelands relish with wonder and awe walking into a polling station and voting with fear of reprisal?  I wonder if people from war ravished areas of the world can hardly believe walking into a doctor’s office, a hospital, or a drug store – all of which are fully functioning?  I wonder if people who were starved physically and spiritually see the abundance hereabouts and literally give thanks to God?!

I walked into a grocery store the other day and literally had my eyes opened!  Usually I wander around he grocery store and fill the cart from the list I’ve been given.  The other day, for some odd reason, I was floored by the incredible abundance laid out before the shoppers!  And in one aisle only!

That can be a metaphor for the incredible abundance that this society generally enjoys. Or some in our society enjoy better put!  I realize I have journeyed the path of the privileged in more ways than I can imagine or express.  Whatever the specifics of our journeys we are to learn from them, to remember them, and be put to work making a better, more fruitful, more just world for everyone!

Whether it is the Communion Table or the Remembrance Day service we are to take what we’ve been given, appreciate it, and learn from it!  We are to live something of the spirit of the table and of the service. Our lives are to be different because of the remembering that reshapes the journey.

In both peace and in war and in the many other places of life Christians are to be reflecting something of Christ Jesus into the world.  We are to witness to something of Jesus so that the love, grace, and forgiveness of God is like a leaven for the loaf of life!

I hope that God granted us all a significant Remembrance Day and that the journey is made better because of it!

Charlie McNeil
For Knox and Ganton Presbyterian Churches

Can we be saints? (Heinrich Grosskopf)

At this time of the year, we celebrate “All Saints’ Day.”

For many people the word “saint” could barely be understood, simply because the word isn’t used that regularly anymore. When it is used, it refers to something of the religious sphere. Churches still bear names like St. Andrew’s, or St. Luke’s. But what does it refer to?

It does indeed refer to “holy ones”, people that are set apart by God to be sanctified.

Frank Logue asks, “How do you define a person that is a saint? Would you know a real-life saint if you met one?”

Try this definition: “A saint is a dead sinner, revised and edited.” This comes from the early 20th-century satirist Ambrose Bierce in his 1906 work, The Cynic’s Word Book, where he defined saints as revised and edited sinners presumably because if we knew the truth of the saint’s life, we would find a truth more complicated and less holy than the legend.

Indeed, as human beings, we would never be able to be identified as saints on our own. From a divine perspective, things get turned around.

The miracle of it all is that a Christian is not made a saint by their actions.

Perhaps this is why the snarky definition offered by Ambrose Bierce proves oddly accurate and soundly scriptural. Bierce defined a saint as “A dead sinner, revised and edited.” We find the same in scripture and our own lives. All of us are sinners. Not one of us is pure.

What makes someone a saint is not that they are holy, but that God is holy. Everyone of us in baptism is buried with Christ in his death to rise with him in the resurrection. We are all called to be dead to sin and alive to God.

We don’t do any actions to earn or deserve God’s grace and love, which have already been given to us freely. Instead, we love our neighbours as ourselves in response to that love from God, expecting nothing in return as God has given us everything.

Many other dead sinners need to know that God loves them just as they are but wishes to work on revising and editing.

We don’t define saints. God does. God, three-in-one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit wishes that all would gather around God’s heavenly throne in that saintly chorus, singing “Holy, holy, holy”, even you and me.

(The Rev) Heinrich Grosskopf
Dayspring Presbyterian Church, Edmonton

Helping the most vulnerable: Ride For Refuge 2019 (William & Christine Ball)

We had participated in Ride for Refuge once before when William was minister at Westminster, Ottawa.  Knowing how positive the experience was, we wanted to be involved again here in Edmonton

We knew that Mill Woods Church in Edmonton was generous supporter of PWS&D but didn’t know whether they would be interested in this project.  So, we put it out there and just asked.  We invited others to join us, and they did!

Those who responded to our invitation to join the team were of all ages, from 12 to 88 years old.  Half of us walked, the other half rode 10 or 25 km.  As we walked, we talked and learned more about each other.  Not only were we raising money for a great cause, we were enjoying our time together and strengthening our relationships with each other.

The team found they had great support from the congregation of Mill Woods PC and the support extended out to their neighbours, friends and family members.  Ride for Refuge allowed the congregation to reach out beyond ourselves, opening up conversations about maternal, newborn and child health.

Ride for Refuge is a wonderful family friendly community event and the team enjoyed being a part of it.   Our participation made MWPC a little more visible in the community and allowed us to share the work of PWS&D.   We were also able to connect with other teams and hear about other ministries and services in our city.

We even reconnected with a number of children who had attended our summer Kids Kamp in August but were not part of our congregation.

At the end of the walk and ride our team gathered to enjoy lunch and celebrate the meeting of our fundraising goal.   The Mill Wood PC team had 9 members and raised $2,500.  Not bad for a first year.   We agreed that this was a wonderful day and that we look forward to participating next year.   Our goal for 2020 is set: 20 participants and $5,000.

It was a delight to sense the hand of God at work among us, in our conversations, in the support of people far and wide for those who are vulnerable and have the least.

To learn more about what Presbyterians are supporting around the world, go to:  www.presbyterian.ca/pwsd. To access an infosheet specifically about Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, click here.

Blessings to one and all as we share the love of Jesus in concrete, practical ways.
Christine and William Ball

The Clay Pot Boy – A Russian Parable (Harry Currie)

Once there was an old couple who were childless. They had longed for a child for many years. One day it came to them to stop waiting and to shape a child for themselves out of what was available to them. The old woman looked around their house. The first thing she spied was a clay pot. That gave her an idea! Quickly she went to the riverbed and found the best clay in all the area. She brought it home. That night she and her husband loving fashioned a boy in the shape of a clay pot. They left it to dry overnight. Then it was fired in the oven the next day. And lo and behold, out of the oven came a delightful little boy! 

Like any newborn, the little clay pot boy was very hungry. He ate and ate and ate and ate. When the old woman and the old man had fed him all the food in the house, he began to eat their possessions. He ate the old woman’s weaving loom and the old man’s axe. Finally, he even swallowed up his parents, the old woman and the old man! Then he headed out into the world. 

And there his eating grew even larger. First, he met the neighbors. “I’m hungry!” cried the clay pot boy! The neighbors quickly offered him bread and milk. They had heard how he had literally eaten his parents our of house and home. He drank down ten tubs of milk and ate five baskets of bread. He met a bull in the next field and ate it horns and all. At the next farm he didn’t even as politely. He swallowed the farmer and his plough, the farmer’s wife and her hoe, their rooster and their hens sitting on their eggs. Finally, he swallowed the whole barn! 

Then he headed toward the billy goat with curly horns who was grazing in the next field over. When he reached the billy goat with the curly horns, the clay pot boy cried, “I’m hungry!” The billy goat saw all that the clay pot boy had eaten and he decided to the boy needed a lesson! When the clay pot boy headed toward the billy goat with his mouth open wide to eat him, the billy goat put down his head with the curly horns and charged. Bang! Boom! Smash!

The billy goat hit the clay pot boy smack in the middle and he burst into many, many pieces! Out tumbled the old woman and the old man and all their possessions. Out tumbled ten tubs of milk and five baskets of bread. Out tumbled the bull, horns and all. Out tumbled the farmer and his plough, the farmer’s wife and her hoe, the rooster and the hens and their eggs. And even the farmer’s barn! And…that was the end of the clay pot boy. The old woman and the old man never made a clay pot boy again. And the billy goat with the curly horns was always much beloved by all. 

The clay pot boy story is a story that speaks to our time specifically of consumerism, but to any time and to much larger issues when nations, cultures, empires, groups, or individuals consume others.

The Me Too movement is a backlash against men, sometimes powerful men who have consumed women… taken what was not theirs. The growth of the Western World, or the First World and Capitalism was growth often at the expense of poorer countries who were exploited. We can tell of the terrible consumption of the Holocaust, or Residential Schools, or the Inquisition, or of war, or of Colonialism, or other events where larger powers ate up smaller powers. And we have to look at our own lives and think about where we are more interested in taking, having, gaining and/or consuming. Things like goods, emotional leverage, position, perks, money, favours, sex, food, or other things we want.

Jesus offers a different narrative. In a world that often has a slogaon of “Eat or be eaten,” Jesus offers himself to be food. He is bread. He is water. He is wine.

Instead of taking from others, Jesus offers himself to others. He is food to a person’s soul. To those who hunger for justice, to those who thirst for love and acceptance, to those who want the bread of equality and the wine of peace, Jesus offers himself. To those who want to taste inner healing, Jesus is a balm. To those who are starving for forgiveness and reconciliation, Jesus feeds their souls.

So, the question we can ask ourselves. In what we can we be food to souls. Instead of taking, what can we give?

The Rev. Harry Currie
First Presbyterian Church, Edmonton

Moving to Yellowknife! (Kenneth MacRae)

2 Corinthians 5:1 “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”

Twelve! That is the current number of times I have moved in my life. This is not counting six months in Kuwait, nor the months living in a field in Wainwright, nor the 14 weeks on basic training. 12 represents the number of times I have had to pack up my worldly belongings and move to another home. Over the summer I had to move, curtesy of the military, from St Albert to Yellowknife. I hate to quote George Carlin the comedian but he is very accurate when he said, “That’s all I want, that’s all you need in life, is a little place for your stuff, ya know? …., everybody’s got a little place for their stuff. This is my stuff, that’s your stuff, that’ll be his stuff over there. That’s all you need in life, a little place for your stuff. That’s all your house is: a place to keep your stuff.”

The good news about moving is that you have to sort through your “stuff” to figure out if you need to take it with you. When we arrived in Yellowknife the movers put our 32’ tube TV in the basement. We sort of forgot we even had one. The basement of our home was basically our son’s domain, so we never went downstairs to relax. When that heavy TV was being lifted downstairs, my wife and I looked at each other and said that it was time to get rid of it. Thankfully there is an eco-center in Yellowknife so it is not just in a dump…I hope.

Government housing is usually old so that means smaller rooms. When we arrived in Yellowknife we had a “march – in” to our duplex. That happened from 1030 -1150 hrs. The moving van arrived at 1155hrs. We were still trying to figure out what rooms were in the house that we hadn’t seen before, to tell the movers where to put everything.

This move however was a little unique. As a Presbyterian minister and military chaplain I usually don’t have to worry about finding a home church. I’m usually called to a church or to a base chapel. Here in Yellowknife there is no chapel and no Presbyterian Church. For the first time in my life my wife and I went “church shopping”. Every church says that they are a welcoming church. Not every church embodies that phrase. People get use to their “cliques”. They want to spend time with their friends. Some churches welcomes the strangers in their midst. Others just look at the strangers.

We think we found a church home. We have visited 4 different churches but a local Baptist church was very friendly to us and introduced us to various people in the church. They were not putting too much pressure on us and had various groups to join which sound interesting. The music is great. The preacher is not too bad either…for a Baptist!

While every community that we have moved to is unique in their own way, one of the blessings that we have as Christians is that we can usually find brothers and sisters in Christ in every community around the world. Home for me is not really about my “stuff”. It is finding people to love and to be loved by. It is finding people who like to laugh, to share your concerns, to pray with. It is a bonus if I find people who like to golf, or fish, or play games with. No matter where we live, as long as God is present with us, we are never alone. Let the adventure begin.

Padre Kenneth and Cathy MacRae

The Cost of Unity (Rodger McEachern)

20 ‘My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.’  (John 17.20-21, New International Version, NIV, 2011)

Jesus prayed that those persons who “believe in me” after hearing the apostolic message from Jesus’ original twelve disciples (“their message”) “may be one”. This being “one” speaks to a unity that is not less but is more than a unity based on external factors. Jesus is praying that his followers would have a oneness that is grounded in the oneness that Jesus has with his Father, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” Further, the oneness that Jesus’ followers have through believing in him is a unity that is to be experienced and lived out “so that the world may believe” that the Father have sent Jesus.

How are we to experience and live out being “one”? Three basic ways are:

  1. We need to repent for our prejudices and preferences that divide and not bring together the followers of Jesus. Too often our words and actions are means of criticism of other believers; they drive away other Christians. I am not referring to upholding biblical truth and the apostolic testimony that has been held by most Christians during all times in all places. Yet even this truth is to be spoken and lived out in love so that our oneness is a lived reality.
  2. We must come to the cross. We come to the cross of Christ as sinners, we receive forgiveness for our sins and are reconciled to the Father and to one another as God’s children (Romans 8.14-16). So, we come together, not as Presbyterians or Pentecostals, conservative or progressive, white or indigenous, male or female, young or old, but as the people of God ransomed and redeemed through the work of the cross of Jesus.
  3. We are to open our lives to the Holy Spirit and spiritual renewal. Someone has said, “Christian unity…was inaugurated on the cross, is given by God and wrought by the Spirit in the hearts of people. History teaches us that when revival comes, the Spirit takes virtually no notice of denominational labels….” As we open our lives to the Holy Spirit we are brought into the presence of Jesus and the Father (Ephesians 2.6); we come closer to God and we come closer to one another.

Yesterday close to a hundred of us gathered for worship. Coming from different racial, ethnic, and demographic backgrounds we came together as followers of Jesus. There was no delusion that our coming together reflected the perfect “oneness” Jesus prayed for. Yet as we praised the Name of the Lord, repented of prejudices and preferences, and called upon the Spirit to enliven us to the love of the Father, we drew closer to the cross and to one another.

The Rev Dr Rodger McEachern
Callingwood Road Presbyterian Church