In Brandon there is a marvelous website called ebrandon.ca This website is a community centre. It has local news, weather, jobs available, classifieds, houses for sale, and most importantly --discussion pages. The discussion pages have a huge range of topics. What I find fascinating about the discussion pages is people's passion on each topic. When it is a hot topic (for instance the woman that wanted to know what to do with her boyfriends dog as the dog was biting her kids.) the discussion flourishes and the debate swings wide and free. Frequently there is a "yes we agree" side and a "you've got to be kidding me" side with very few people sitting on the fence. What the discussion usually comes down to is belief and responsibility.
Is there this kind of discussion of beliefs and responsibility in the Church?
Our Presbyterian Church is ruled by Jesus as our head of the Church... and then the Bible and then the Living Faith (Creeds and Statement of Belief), and then somewhere down a step or two are the Governing Principles of the Church called "The Book of Forms". The Book of Forms is composed of rules and regulations. These rules and regulations were usually created after a Congregation - Minister went through a time of difficulty and never wanted to have any other Congregation or Minister go through this same time of trial. Yet, how many Elders have I heard saying, "But Jesus didn't want us to follow rules and regulations. Just look at how he denounced the Scribes and Pharisees for following the Law!" This is not the same thing at all! Jesus was concerned that the Scribes and Pharisees had gone overboard and were just looking at the Laws and not at God. They were totally focussed on following the Law first and God second or third.
What happens in a Church when the Book of Forms are not followed by the Minister and Elders and Board of Managers? Frustration, discontent, superiority from those Elders who say, "I don't follow the Book of Forms and in all discussions about Church rules - regulations we will have to agree to disagree". This is so sad. Especially as our Elders state when they are ordained that they will uphold the teachings of the Bible and follow the rules and regulations (Book of Forms) of the Church.
Any rules and regulations of a Church state what the Church believes and takes that responsibility into action. The same with God's love... we believe in God's love and out of our love for God, we take action to share God's love with the world.
Today during your time of retreating in God, ask yourself:
1. what your Church rules and regulations are all about
2. how does the Church you attend take these rules and regulations into action for God
3. how can you support those Elders and Ministers who think following the rules and regulations of the Church get in the way of doing the work of God
4. ask God to provide you with an eager attitude to serve God each day.
Prayer: Help us O Lord to keep ourselves attune to Your Word. When our foot stumbles, guide us back to Your path of righteousness. This we ask in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Read St. Matthew 16: 5 – 12
And across the lake went Jesus and the disciples. The disciples then all say, “Oh rats! We’ve forgotten the bread!!” They are thinking of their hungry stomachs.
Jesus says for them to be on their guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Can’t you see a very large question mark in each of the disciples mind’s? They are thinking physical bread and physical yeast which makes bread. Jesus is not talking about the yeast that sits and ferments but the “yeast” or teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees that are sitting and fermenting and becoming deadly. Their teachings have forgotten the love of God and of God’s redeeming love. Instead the Pharisees and Sadducees teach about Laws and only the Laws.
Prayer: Great God, may we never forgot Your love for us. May we remember Your redeeming love and keep Your love in our hearts with an ever eager attitude to serve You all of our days. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.