Sex and Marriage
Sex and Marriage 3 Names of Jesus: Son of Man 16 Our Stories: My Seminary Life 20
Departments Discipleship Ministries 11 Resource Centre 14
Information Contact Information 28 Community Corner 30 Calendar 33 Cover & Design: Clement Lee Contributors: Karen Cassel Sam Lee Barrie Porter Ben Reynolds Gene Tempelmeyer Copy Editors: Suzanna Lai Gene Tempelmeyer
Delve submissions are due on the LAST MONDAY of each month. To submit for the next issue of Delve, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org 2
Rod and Elizabeth were part of a “Jesus People” church I belonged to back in the days of platform boots and bell bottoms. As young couples do, Rod and Elizabeth fell in love. We were happy to see them together until one day they shared with us the exciting news that the Lord had led them to get married in His Presence. They had promised themselves to each other before God and were now considering themselves a married couple. This confused the rest of us. “Can you actually do that?” was the question we asked them – and each other. Don’t you need a ceremony? And a license? And a minister? A few decades later another couple approached me about becoming church members. Both had been active Christians and then walked away from faith. While they away they moved in together and had a couple of kids. They had never felt the need nor the desire to have a formal wedding or marriage ceremony. 3
When I asked if we could discuss a wedding before discussing membership they wondered, “Why?” “So you can be legally married,” was my answer. “But we are legally married,” said the husband/male half of the equation. “We file income tax as a married couple. The government has recognised us as married for years. We are married! We just didn’t have a wedding.” I’ve been writing about the demise of Christendom: living in a culture that assumes Christianity as the operative guide for the morals and values of the community around us. As Canada and Toronto become more diverse and secular the assumptions of Christendom become increasingly irrelevant. This new context invites and requires us to rethink many issues considering what parts of our belief are cultural and what parts actually come from following Jesus and thinking biblically. I have long thought that moving beyond Christendom is healthy for the church precisely because we are forced to reread the Bible and perhaps discover things we did not think were there and things not there we had always been taught were. It seems to me that weddings are one of the few places where Christendom is still largely operational. In every wedding I conduct I, as an ordained pastor, act as a legal representative of the state hearing contractual promises and providing a documentary record of those promises. Despite the availability of nonreligious “Wedding Officiants” I would estimate that well over the half the weddings I have officiated have been between people who were not religious at all, were not active in a church, but nevertheless felt it important to have a church wedding conducted by clergy. Most, if not all, European nations require a civil ceremony for a legal marriage and a church ceremony for a spiritual marriage. Which is required for the church to recognise a couple as married with all of the rights and responsibilities that come along with it? The church ceremony alone? The legal ceremony? Both? In my mind the two 4
are so tangled together I find it hard to separate them. But from the standpoint of offering pastoral advice and biblical clarity it is necessary to separate them and ask, “Does the Bible clearly identify at what point a couple is married?” Or to ask the question many couples headed for the altar but not there yet are asking: “When are we allowed to have sex?” I am frankly uncomfortable acting as an agent for the state when I marry a couple. I would prefer to speak with a voice that is purely pastoral and let the state make whatever legal arrangements are required by a democratic society. In post Christendom it is only to be expected that the state’s definition of marriage and the church’s definition of marriage may not be the same thing. In light of the two couples at the start of this musing the church needs to have a serious conversation about the questions: “How is a marriage formed?” and “What actually is ‘sex’?” This is a conversation often avoided because (a) we think we already know the biblical definition of both although as I have thought about these questions and discussed them with thoughtful Christians I find that most of us have very little biblical support we can cite to support what we feel is right; and (b) unhealthy attitudes towards sex and sexuality in the Christian community have left many of us deeply embarrassed by any open conversation about the subject. Searching the Bible to research this article I could only find one biblical principle of the wedding ceremony: it is apparently biblical for the guests to drink a lot of wine. For all the conversation around a “biblical view of marriage” I expected to find more than that! There is no recitation of vows so couples wanting a biblical vow are left with Ruth’s vow to her mother-in-law. There is certainly a recognition of marriage and the importance of marital faithfulness in the Bible, but no clear definition what defines a couple as truly married. The marriage ceremony seems to have consisted of the bride’s father and family or an agent of the family taking the bride to the 5
groom’s tent. A contemporary Jewish wedding still takes place under a canopy representing the groom’s tent. Interestingly, there is no mention of a marriage certificate in the Bible, but the Old Testament does require the husband to write a certificate of divorce. The definition of marriage becomes intertwined with the definition of sex in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. “Do you not know that anyone joined to a prostitute is one body with her? For it says, ‘the two will become one flesh.’” (1 Cor 7:16) This is the same language Paul used elsewhere to describe a husband and wife being joined in marriage, becoming one flesh with each other. Paul seems to suggest that it is “joining” in sex that makes the two into one. This might further suggest that “premarital sex” is an oxymoron: that all sex is a marital act uniting us in a mysterious, intimate way to another. Could it be that my common-law friends actually were married by their sexual relationship? Some Christian traditions consider that a marriage is promised in a ceremony but only completed in the act of sex: if sex never takes places there was never a real marriage regardless the vows made to one another. Most of our youth know that God expects them to save sex for marriage. Speaking with both youth and parents, however, it is apparent to me that Christian youth do not consider many sexual activities to be “having sex.” There is a long continuum between holding hands and genital intercourse. Christian youth often give more and more of themselves away considering that as long as they avoid full and complete genital intercourse they are “not having sex.” Requiring strict genital virginity without openly discussing that continuum of sexual activity leaves our youth with the definition of sex held by one American president gazing sincerely into the news camera while proclaiming, “I did not have sex with that woman.” Further revelations indicated that he was defining sex too narrowly. As I said to a youth group at the time: if you are engaging in an activity that ends in the word “sex”, you are probably having sex. Our questions about intimacy prior to marriage are confounded by the realization that biblical people did not experience what we now know as adolescence and the period of post-adolescence when a 6
young adult no longer lives with their parents but also is not yet married. These are life stages New Testament writers and readers did not have to endure. Nor did they have to find “the right one.” They did not date as a way of learning how to navigate romantic relationships. Marriage was a social arrangement: a group decision in which the fathers of bride and groom had the strongest voice. Rebekah did not meet her husband, Isaac, until the moment she was brought to his tent to become his wife. Most human experience has consisted of defining people as single, betrothed or married. The 20th century seems to have added a number of interim stages including: “dating”, “seeing each other”, “going steady”, and “living together.” As a teen I knew what all these meant, but by the time my kids were in their teens and early 20’s, I had a difficult time understanding the difference between “my boyfriend” and “not my boyfriend.” We search the Bible in vain for clear sexual boundaries in these stages because these stages did not exist in the culture of the Bible. Drawing conclusions from the marriage of Mary and Joseph while retaining 21st century cultural assumptions about young relationships is destined to failure. Some Christians respond to this dilemma by “Kissing Dating Goodbye.” This would be fine if we did not expect our young people to find “the right one.” As a parent, I would have often preferred to simply arrange spouses for my kids. Both have ended up making good choices which was only learned by the bad choices that so distressed me when they were younger. Unless we are willing to return to arranged marriages (which continues in several cultures represented in our congregation and has much greater biblical precedent the current alternatives) we need to teach kids how to date, learning from each heartbreak what is most important in their future spouse. Part of the conversation must be how to manage the sexual component of dating. As we do so it is important to acknowledge that we have no biblical commandments about the interim stages and appropriate intimacies of dating and engagement to point 7
toward; we only have biblical principles about relationships and how they work. I do not have answers for several dilemmas raised by these musings! All I can suggest is that the Church have a serious conversation about how we will regard marriage and sex in this postChristendom era. Here are some of the questions we need to talk about: • For the purposes of church life (for example, who would we accept into membership or as a church leader), who defines what constitutes a marriage? The Church? The state? Both? A number of Christian writers argue that a Christian couple needs a civil marriage license because we are to obey “the law of the land.” Do we define marriage by “the law of the land”? Most of these same Christians reject common-law and same-sex marriages despite their recognition by “the law of the land.” • Do we want our pastors to continue to operate as agents of the state when officiating a wedding? If so, should our pastors be willing to officiate any wedding sanctioned by the state and should the church recognise common-law couples as married at the time the state gives that recognition? • For the purposes of church life, should the church recognise as married a couple that has had a civil marriage without reference to God or church? For the purposes of church life, should some sort of spiritual exchange of vows before God take place before a marriage is recognised? • In the vacuum of specific biblical example or instruction related to the actual formation of a marriage in some sort of wedding, how will we make these decisions? A generation ago we could refer to “cultural norms.” How have changing cultural norms changed this discussion? • At what point is an adult Christian couple entitle to share sexual intercourse? When they have a legal document? When they have a spiritual ceremony? When they are publicly committed to a lifelong monogamous relationship? • What is “having sex”? Is virginity an “On/Off” switch or more like a “Dimmer switch”? If it can’t make a baby, is it “sex”? On the continuum between holding hands and having full genital 8
intercourse, what is appropriate when? • More importantly, how do we decide this? How and where do we talk about it? • How do we get over our embarrassment around such a fundamentally human issue so that we can have conversation about sex in the church? What are the consequences of delaying that conversation while we get comfortable? We might want to start with a gathering on January 15 (advertised on the next page) to discuss “Talking With Kids and Youth About Sex.” This workshop is aimed at anyone involved in the lives of kids and youth – but the invitation is to everyone. I began to research and write this article long before the above workshop was planned. Perhaps it was planned by God before we knew about it. In any event, it is time for the Church as a whole to consider how we will address questions related to marriage and sex as the Church of Jesus becomes more and more a counter-cultural presence in Canada.
Workshop for Caregivers & Parents: Talking with Kids & Youth about Sex Event Date: Sunday January 15, 2017 Event Time: 11:45 - 2pm Lunch provided in Multipurpose Room Childcare provided in Children's Theatre Youth Workshop in the Youth Lounge Mentor Workshop in the Meeting Room Cost: $10 per family or $5 per participant
Discipleship Ministries Partnering with Families Marianne Deeks A Heart For Young People Marianne Deeks is passionate about this generation of young people. In a world where the emphasis is primarily on our looks, our ability to achieve, and the pressure to perform, she unpacks some of the biggest issues teens face today. From sexual pressure, self-esteem, anxiety, the complexity of friendships and bullying, Marianne has an honest and candid way of both bringing the information and presenting ideas to help combat the problems. On January 15, after worship, Marianne will give us a workshop around the issues of sexuality that teens face today. Please register on our website by January 8th so that we can prepare the right amount of food and child care. At the same time, we will be providing a workshop for teens on mentoring.
Please register by Jan 8th at www.springgardenchurch.ca Please contact Sam Lee (email@example.com) or Jesse James (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details. For a bio of Marianne Deeks, please visit http://www.mariannedeeks.ca/index.php/about
Life Groups: Life groups this month will only be on January 27th from 7pm-9pm. Boys will continue to meet at Clem and Koon Lee’s house, while the girls will meet at Jim and Anja Turner’s house. For more information please email Sam or Jeremy
Save the Date! Summer VBS, July 24-July 28 Registration will be available on our website by the end of the month.
Spring Youth Sunday Morning Worship Gatherings: January 8th, 15th and 29th - We will be having regular worship gatherings for youth in grades 6-12, after the musical portion of worship in the main sanctuary. Children and youth will continue their programs and worship gathering in their classrooms following the children’s blessing. Youth will meet in the youth lounge.
January 3rd - Movie and BBQ We will meet at Spring Garden, and then head over to Chako Barbecue for all you can eat meat. Afterwards we will be watching Star Wars: Rogue One at Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk. If youth don’t want to watch the movie, they are more than welcome to hang out and have lunch with us before hand at a reduced price. Due to rides, please reserve your youth’s spot by emailing Jeremy. Cost: $25(with movie), $15(without movie) Time: 10:30am-6:30pm January 13th - TBM Youth: Pre-Retreat Party We will be having a pre-retreat event with other baptist churches in Toronto to connect with each other as we get ready for the winter retreats Avalanche and Blizzard. There will be food, games, worship and testimonies. Time: 6:30pm-10:00pm - Meet at SGC first, then join the party at Yorkminister Park January 20th-22nd - Avalanche Youth Retreat Please pray for safety, fun and life transformation as students and leaders spend a weekend up at Muskoka.
**Please be aware there will be no worship gatherings on January 1st and 22nd. Youth are encouraged to join the upstairs gathering** 12
Recomendations From The Resource Centre
Spring Garden’s online library catalog can be accessed at springgardenchurch.ca/library
If you know of books or DVDs that you’d like to recommend to the resource centre, please contact Karen Cassel email@example.com
Books The Prayer saturated family: how to change the atmosphere in your home through prayer, by Cheryl Sacks As we experience an unprecedented cultural attack on biblical values, it has never been more important for families to pray together. But busy schedules, digital distractions, and a general lack of enthusiasm make this vital goal difficult. How do we change the focus of our families from the world to the Lord, and the mood of our households from one of frustration to one of peace and joy? In The Prayer-Saturated Family, Cheryl Sacks gives you step-by-step guidance and real-world tips on how to experience the atmosphere of heaven in your home by praying together regularly as a family. Sacks helps you navigate the challenges--like getting everyone involved!--and experience the benefits of family prayer, such as unity, spiritual growth, 14
and precious bonding time. Discover how a family that prays together becomes an unstoppable force for good, bringing God's answers to impossible situations. And it can start with you! You have the power not only to change the atmosphere of your home but also to be part of changing the spiritual atmosphere wherever you go.
Burdens to blessings: discover the power of your story, by Kim Crabill In her transparent story, Burdens to Blessings, Kim invites you along her journey from shame and sadness toward healing and hope. In the process you will encounter the upside-down truth that God uses you because of your hurt and uncertainty. The very things you regret the most - the things you hope no one ever discovers about you are what God wants to use to enrich your life and the lives of others around you.
Names of Jesus: Son of Man Ben Reynolds
One name of Jesus that is quite different from the other three names we have already examined – Messiah, Son of God, and Son of David – is “the Son of Man.” The main reason that “Son of Man” differs from these other names is that Jesus never directly uses Messiah, Son of God, or Son of David of himself, but he is the only person to use the phrase “the Son of Man” in the over eighty times it is found in the four Gospels. Most of us usually assume that “the Son of Man” is a reference to Jesus’ humanity, since that seems the obvious explanation of what it means to be the son of a man. While “humanity” or “human being” are related meanings to the phrase, I will argue below that “the Son of Man” was used by Jesus as a veiled reference to his divinity and messiahship. I have spent countless hours studying this topic, but “the Son of Man” still remains more mysterious to me than any other title. The name’s mysteriousness involves the manner of its use and lack of use, its awkwardness (in the original it is literally: “the Son of the Man”), and its elusive meaning. “The Son of Man” is found in all four Gospels, and as I mentioned above, Jesus is the only one who speaks the phrase (Luke 24:7; John 12:32 being the only two partial 16
exceptions). Jesus uses the phrase to refer to himself, yet we do not find the name anywhere else in the New Testament apart from Stephen’s statement just before he is killed in Acts 7:56 (Hebrews 2:6; Revelation 1:13; 14:14 are slightly different instances). Further, “the Son of Man” did not become part of the early Christian proclamation of the Gospel (for example, Acts 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved…”) nor was it used in early Christian worship. The name essentially disappears from early Christian texts. Even today we rarely, if ever, worship or speak of Jesus as the Son of Man, but we do speak of him as Lord, Messiah, and Son of God. In the Old Testament, we often find phrases like “sons of men” or “son of man.” What is meant by these phrases is essentially a human being, one who is a son of Adam. The Hebrew word for “man” or “human” is adam. This same meaning is what C. S. Lewis intends in the Chronicles of Narnia when he refers to the Pevensie children – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy – as “sons of Adam” and “daughters of Eve.” Often the “son of man” language in the Old Testament is found in poetic contexts where it is used in parallel with other words for human beings. For example, in Psalm 8:4, the Psalmist says, “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” or again in Psalm 146:3, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.“ In both examples, a “son of man” is another way of speaking about a human being. Quite a few scholars think that Jesus intended to speak of himself as a human being or “the” human being. Other possible meanings of the phrase “the Son of Man” include: “the human one,” “the man,” or “one like me.” Such a meaning makes sense in a statement like Matthew 8:20: “The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have their nests, but the Son of Man (or “the human one, in other words, I mean me”) has no place to lay his (my) head.” It may also make sense in Luke 12:8-9: “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man (“the human one, that is me”) also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the 17
angels of God.” Or again in Mark 14:21 (also Matthew 26:24; Luke 22:22), “For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!” In each of these instances, there would be little difference in meaning if we replaced “the Son of Man” with “I.” A comparison of Son of Man sayings in Matthew, Mark, and Luke shows that these terms are interchangeable in the same saying. For example, Mark and Luke record Jesus saying “the Son of Man” but Matthew has “I” instead (see Matthew 16:21 with Mark 8:31 and Luke 9:21). This interchangeability highlights the way in which Jesus used the name as a way to refer to himself and the way the Gospel authors understood it as Jesus’ typical way to refer to himself. However, there are some sayings that I think cannot merely be replaced with the pronoun “I” without some loss of meaning. Two sayings where I think something is clearly lost are Mark 13:26-27 and 14:62 (see the parallels in Matthew and Luke). Mark 13:26-27 reads: “And then you will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.” And Mark 14:62: “I am and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” These statements still make some sense if we replace “the Son of Man” with “I” because Jesus does use “the Son of Man” to speak of himself; however, each of these statements includes a quotation from Daniel 7:13-14. In Daniel 7, Daniel sees a vision of four beasts rising out of the sea. The Ancient of Days (God) sits on his throne and judges the beasts. After this judgment takes place, Daniel says: “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (7:1314). In the interpretation of Daniel’s vision, the beasts are described as kings of nations. The “one like a son of man” that Daniel sees 18
looks like a human being but is most likely not a human figure. As is typical of visions and dreams, the beast-like figures are human and the human-like figure is not human. The key is that these visionary figures are “like” beasts and a human being as far as Daniel can tell. The “one like a son of man” is given glory, a kingdom, and everlasting dominion, yet no explicit interpretation of this figure is given. At the risk of oversimplifying, I think that this figure that Daniel sees is the ruler of the people of God and thus a messianic/ Davidic figure that has some divine implications in the way he comes with the clouds, is served by the nations, and is presented to the Ancient of Days by the angels. Thus, when Jesus refers to himself as “the Son of Man,” I believe that he is declaring himself to be the figure Daniel saw in his vision. This is why in Mark 13:26 and 14:62 Jesus can quote Daniel 7:13 about the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven in order to speak about his future vindication. When Jesus heals the man who is lowered through the roof in Mark 2, Jesus says, “so that [all of] you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…I say to you [the paralyzed man], rise, pick up your mat, and go home” (Mark 2:10). If Jesus is calling himself the Son of Man from Daniel’s vision, the figure’s coming with the clouds of heaven and the appearance with the angelic beings suggests a heavenly scene. Judgment of the beasts is part of the context, and therefore it would make perfect sense for Jesus to clarify that as the Son of Man he has the ability to forgive sins not just in heaven but also on earth. When we apply this Danielic meaning to the Luke 12:8 text mentioned above, we gain additional insight into who Jesus is as the Son of Man: “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man (“the human figure Daniel saw who I am”) also will acknowledge before the angels of God….” If we only view “the Son of Man” as equivalent to “I,” some meaning is lost. Jesus also uses “the Son of Man” to speak of his suffering and death. In Mark 8, Jesus asks the disciples who they think that he is. Peter replies to this question about Jesus’ identity with the statement, “You are the Christ (or Messiah)” (Mark 8:29; also Matthew 16:16; Luke 9:20). Jesus responds to him by speaking 19
about the necessity of the Son of Man’s suffering, rejection, death, and resurrection (Mark 8:31; also 9:31; 10:33-34). Does Daniel’s “one like a son of man” suffer? Not really. We might be able to connect the Son of Man’s suffering with that of the persecution of the people of God in Daniel 7:24-27, but I, however, do not find that argument convincing. Rather, I tend to think that Jesus talks about the Son of Man’s suffering because he redefines Daniel’s son of man in light of Isaiah’s suffering servant (Isaiah 52-53). Thus, the Son of Man’s suffering may not derive from Daniel 7, but the Son of Man suffers because Jesus is “the Son of Man” and God’s servant, and in fulfillment of these roles he must suffer. Jesus seems to have spoken of himself as the “one like a son of man” from Daniel – “the Son of Man.” Doing so allowed him to veil his divinity and also speak openly about his being the Messiah without making explicit messianic claims. To speak of oneself as “Son of Man” was most likely a generic self-reference during Jesus’ day, but as “’the’ Son of Man,” Jesus could hint that he was Messiah and similar to God without hype and without raising suspicions. The phrase allowed him to cloak his messianic and divine identity without overtly claiming, like Peter’s declaration, “I am the Messiah.”
Our Stories: My Seminary Life Barrie Porter
Wanting to inspire and encourage one another with our stories, we asked Barrie Porter this question: “I understand that you went to schooling to go into ministry. Often people think of ministry as becoming a pastor and leading a church. Was this your vision? Did it happen how you thought it would?” The response he gave was so filled with interwoven narrative, humour, and nuggets of wisdom, we thought it best to share the whole piece with you in two parts. 20
Part 1 In order to answer the question, I feel I need to draw on a number of strands that are parts of what I believe it means to be “in ministry”. In my experience the strongest influence has been through people I’ve met and the relationships that developed. I also believe God uses a multitude of things and sometimes surprising and unexpected ways of getting through to us. Books, songs on the radio, movies, strangers who strike up a conversation, a word here, a phrase there. And in such a way that the impressions stick, linking with and building on what’s come before. Additionally, back when I was much younger and still living at home, I already had some idea that to be God’s child meant to also be His servant. Not in a unhappy, drudging way, but in a joyous, freeing way. So we’re all “in the ministry” if we are a son, or daughter through the redemptive power of His blood. And we’re “always on the clock”. Which is to say that for me going to Seminary was not my first step into ministry. But the four years of studies and my experiences around that time were very important for me and so I’ll draw on some of the things that stand out and left strong and lasting impressions. It was in September 1970 I arrived at a Baptist seminary in Toronto on commencement day with an international group of young men and women all strangers to each other and all trying to look relaxed and confident. In the mid sixties I’d moved to Toronto from Liverpool, England and after having lived in succession with three families of relatives, now shared a flat with two friends. Peter and Andrew had been two of many who had vowed as I left home, “I’ll join you in a year or two, right?” I should back up a bit. Peter and I had been friends going back to about the age of eight. We had grown up living close to each other and over the years been through a lot together. As a 21
teenager Peter went to a different school and became friends with Andrew whose father was a pastor in the city. And it was through Andrew’s friendship that Peter became a believer and he in turn witnessed to me and had a part in my conversion. There’s no doubt that there were many other things before this time that God used to draw me to Himself, to bring me to the point as a teenager where I was ready to say yes. I won’t go into all of that now, it’s part of a much bigger story, except to say my mother’s example and godly nurturing played a large part. I mentioned that in my experience God has used just even a single phrase caught almost in passing to leave strong and last impressions. “You must make the effort” was a phrase repeated by one of my friends’ teachers, a person I never met. Apparently the urging was given to his classes often enough that it became something of a well-worn line. Peter, an accomplished mimic, was able to reproduce the voice perfectly. The teacher was not a local man, so his dialect was different from ours. It was meant to make fun of him when we would throw the phrase into our conversations. With a long stretch of years in between, you’d think the words would have faded by now; no, it’s still going strong for me today! Usually at times when I have a task that has to be done, [like writing an article with a deadline looming!], and I just seem utterly unable to find the incentive and the impetus to do it. And if a headache is involved, that’s a further complication. I believe God wants us at times to at least “make the effort,” to try. You could call it a “small try”. In this case, for example it may be as little as deciding just to read over what I’ve done so far. Then in the process of doing so some rearranging suggests itself and before I know it it’s been an hour at the keyboard. God takes delight in deliberately taking small and unlikely beginnings and using them to do much bigger things. I believe He loves to see the look of surprise on our faces when something turns out so unexpectedly. It would be interesting to talk with Naaman, the great military commander who had leprosy. When the prophet tells him almost offhandedly to bathe in the River Jordon, I can almost hear the angry response, “You’re joking right? I’ve come all this way to wash 22
in that mud?” If it wasn’t for his servants and the caliber of their relationship with him, it looks like Naaman would have walked away and never looked back. Instead he listens and however grudgingly follows the instructions and is completely healed. Like a baby’s skin the Bible says. That look of astonishment and incredulity would have been something to see! And what a rising wave of joy and amazement when he returned home! A couple of days before I left home Peter asked if I would like to come to a crusade organized by the European arm of the Billy Graham association. I went forward for the altar call, but with mixed feelings. I had no problem making a public declaration of faith, I understood what I was doing, but wasn’t convinced that it marked the actual moment when I passed from the old life into the new. A further complication arose by something the evangelist said a few minutes before; I believe he was referring to 2 Peter 2:21. “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them”. He stated that a refusal to respond to God’s prompting here and now could mean that in the future the Holy Spirit would never make another attempt. The next moment it was if a voice spoke directly into my head clearly and distinctly, short and to the point. “That’s not true.” It wasn’t a deal breaker for me, I’m sure that in that moment God simply let me see that someone who is mostly right can have some things wrong and still be a valuable servant of the Lord. I didn’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I have no doubt that I went to seminary with the intent of becoming a pastor. In fact if memory serves I’m pretty sure it was one of the questions we were all asked on that first day. “Why are you here? What brings you here?” I’m sure I didn’t come across very convincingly. I know that alone I had prayed a great deal about it, had spent a lot of time talking and praying with my pastor, but had I in fact been called? Had God really been “working in my heart” and brought me here? At the end of a long and painful speech I said, “Well, I find myself here!” There was no immediate response, and a disconcerting 23
silence filled the room. Some looking heavenward like they were thinking about the statement, wondering in what way I was using those particular words. I wasn’t absolutely sure myself.
sure it was as strong a reaction on the part of many other parents reeling at the suddenness and strength of what they saw as a revolution.
As a student body we were not large; the class of ’70. It was stimulating for us to be such a cultural mix, we came from ten different countries! As well as the different languages represented we brought a mix of different ideas, but as it happened a lot of similar ones too. Understand we were part of a generation that had in a relatively short space of time seen a lot of change. A generation that had found a collective voice and started to challenge the values of our parents and the culture at large. We listened to Bob Dylan and the Beatles and felt the backlash against the war in Vietnam. We watched the Civil rights movement gain momentum and knew the songs of Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez and many others as they simply and powerfully gave voice to the issues.
Our seminary was strict in its thinking and Calvinistic in its theology. It felt a stifled environment at times in our classrooms. However rays of sunshine began to poke through when some instructors shared with us their own difficulties in terms of their faith and their view of Scripture. As I think of it now I realize it also may also have been our own group dynamic as a student body. We didn’t hesitate to speak up in class, to object, interrupt and generally make our feelings known. But I appreciate and am still grateful for teachers who had the courage to say concerning the thorny questions, things like, “I don’t know, I struggle with that too” “You’re right that looks very unfair” “Yes, I agree, I find it hard to understand that myself”
The speed of this change in most of the world, but in North America and Europe especially, was breathtaking, and came as a huge jolt for our parent’s generation, our teachers and everyone in authority who had been brought up never to question the established order.
The park next to our campus was frequented by men who were called “rubbies” in those days. Possibly because they had come to the point where they would drink rubbing alcohol and other things like shaving lotion. We were told to keep away from them, but of course didn’t and were surprised to meet many architects, lawyers, doctors and others who would typically tell us of two, or three high impact events happening close together or at the same time in their lives that started their downward spiral. We found many who were well read, intelligent, articulate and willing to speak with us. Some would blame the rest of the world for their plight, but many wouldn’t. Some would ask us for money and for others it never entered the conversation. Strong and lasting impressions stayed with us because of these encounters and we started to think more about things like the fact that life carries no guarantees. For any of us our hold on life and what we call security is tenuous at best. We were also reminded not to ignore those among us who had stumbled and lost their footing, but were not any less human because of it. We thought of society’s practice of putting a name on people, sorting them into groups so as to, I suppose feel a safer distance from them.
The mid sixties brought pop music into our home and Mum and I would tune in on our little transistor radio. The BBC was not very keen and purposely kept the new music off the air. Before 1964 we had one station, Radio Luxemburg that we were able to pick up at bedtime. The signal was not very good; it would drift and fade in and out. We’d listen in bed with our radios on our pillows. When the signal fell off we’d fall asleep and when it came back it would wake us up again. [Almost like being a new parent.] Finally in 1964 a pirate radio station, Radio Caroline, from it’s mooring just outside the territorial limit, broadcast a strong, clear and consistent signal to our grateful ears. So it was when we were listening to Petula Clarke singing on a quiet Sunday afternoon that my stepfather suddenly exploded, “Why doesn’t she just say ‘yes?’” And he smashed his mug of tea on the fireplace hearth. The song had had the nerve to include “Yeah!” repeatedly in the chorus and for Dave, who had clearly been sitting there just simmering, it was the last straw. I’m 24
Part 2 continued next month 25
Leadership at Spring Garden Pastoral Team Gene Tempelmeyer, Pastor 416-223-4593 firstname.lastname@example.org Greg Kay, Worship and Mission Pastor email@example.com Margaret Sutton, Pastoral Care/Seniors firstname.lastname@example.org Sam Lee, Pastor of Discipleship, email@example.com Suzanna Lai, Church Office and Communications Manager firstname.lastname@example.org Jeremy Ranasinghe, Discpleship Ministries Assistant email@example.com Samantha Steeles, Discipleship Ministries Intern firstname.lastname@example.org
Ext. 222 Ext. 224 Ext. 226 Ext. 227 Ext. 221
Deacons Marion Cameron - Finance email@example.com Adora Chui - Discipleship Ministries firstname.lastname@example.org Lesley Daniels - Mission and Worship email@example.com Mary Ellen Hopkins - Chair firstname.lastname@example.org Gonzalo Librado - Adult Ministries email@example.com Peggy Moore - Membership, Property firstname.lastname@example.org Esther Penner - Community Life email@example.com Doug Willson - Pastoral Care, Board Secretary 28 firstname.lastname@example.org
Darlene Boyd email@example.com Cindie Chaise firstname.lastname@example.org Cheryl Chapman email@example.com Joanna James firstname.lastname@example.org Barrie Porter email@example.com Corinne Sutton-Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
416.385.2483 416.738.0530 416.222.6963 647.928.0862 416.829.4210 647.704.7710
Spring Garden Church 112 Spring Garden Ave. Toronto ON M2N3G3
T 416.223.4593 F 416.223.6126 www.springgardenchurch.ca email@example.com
Prayer Line 416.223.4038
416.491.8542 905.962.3897 416.806.5373 905.731.0492 416.229.2695 416.225.2406 416.227.1840 416.221.0450 29
Sunday Afternoon Life group looking for members to join!
Life around Spring Garden 2017 -----2019 Offering Envelopes The 2017 Numbered Offering Envelopes are available for pick up from the Welcome Centre. If you have requested offering envelopes printed with your donation number, please pick yours up soon. Thank you.
2017 Parking Pass Sticker NOW AVAILABLE The 2017 Annual Parking Pass sticker is now available. Please bring your 2016 parking pass to the church office to receive a 2017 sticker and update your vehicle's information if required. Your pass number will remain the same. If you are a church ministry worker, member, or ministry partner who wish to obtain an annual parking pass, please also visit the church office. Please remember to put your parking pass on your vehicle dashboard every time you park in the church parking lot. Thank you
The Sunday afternoon life group hosted by Kevin and Suzanna Lai will be studying The Jesus Creed with Gene providing teaching on the material starting Sunday January 22. The group will meet every other Sundays from 4pm to 6pm. During the course of the study, the group will be meeting at SGC youth lounge with childcare provided in the toddler room. The group otherwise typically meets in the Bayview and Sheppard area. If you are interested in exploring the possibility of joining this group while studying The Jesus Creed with Gene, please contact Kevin Lai (firstname.lastname@example.org) to receive more information and a detailed meeting schedule. Thank you. We encourage everyone to join a life group. To receive more information on life groups in general, please contact Jin Lee at Jin.email@example.com. To see a list of our current life groups, please visit: http://springgardenchurch.ca/adult-ministries/ 31
New Common Curriculum for Life Groups starting Jan 22 2017 "The Jesus Creed: Loving God and Loving Others" based on the book by Scot McKnight. The full book and DVD are available now. Please contact Gene (firstname.lastname@example.org) to request a copy for your life group. Participants' guides will be available soon.
Annual Budget Meeting You are invited to join us on Sunday, February 26 as we discuss and commit ourselves to a financial plan for our 2017 ministry year.
Life in Spring Garden
Weekly Tuesdays 2:00 pm - Pastoral Team Meeting in Meeting Room Wednesdays 10:00 - 11:30am - Refresh Women’s Group in West Lounge (childcare provided) 7:00 - 8:30pm - ESL Cafe in East Lounge Thursdays 12:00pm - 2:00pm - Adult Bible Class in the East Lounge Sundays 9:00am - 10:00am - Morning Bible Study in Meeting Room 9:00am - 10:am - ESL Bible Study in Basement Hallway 10:00am - 11:30am - Sunday Morning Worship (communion on the first Sunday of the month) If you would like to receive a weekly email update on what’s happening in Spring Garden, please visit the SGC website (www.springgardenchurch.ca) and add your email at the bottom of our home page to subscribe to our weekly update
This Month Jan 13 @ 6:30 - 10:00 pm - TBM Youth pre-retreat Party Jan15 @ 11:45 am - Workshop for Caregivers & Parents: Talking with Kids & Youth about Sex (pg. 10) Jan 20-22 - Avalanche Youth Retreat
Our Values We believe in a humble God who came not to be served, but to serve. Therefore we engage in sacrificial and active service to those around us. We strive to be good stewards of God’s gifts and talents by serving one another in humility. We aspire to regard others as higher than ourselves, which liberates us to creatively take risks in serving others for God’s glory. We believe in a God of grace who came to save the world, not to condemn it. Therefore, as we are continuously receiving the gift of God’s grace, we seek to grow in that grace and extend it to others. We strive to define ourselves by what we are for, not what we are against. We believe in a God who knows us, and who desires to be known. Therefore we embrace a journey of faith that requires us to constantly strive for a personal, intimate and transformative knowledge of God. We strive to be led by God’s Spirit in supporting and encouraging one another in working out our faith. We believe in a creative God. Therefore we are open to expressing our faith in new and creative ways that reflect the beauty and complexity of our creator. We are called to use our creative gifts in worship and service as we engage with our world. We take joy in the diversity of gifts that allow us to delight God and participate in His ongoing story. We believe in a triune, relational God who calls us to come together as a diverse community of believers. Therefore, we want to walk together, supporting one another physically, emotionally and spiritually. We strive to be a welcoming, inclusive family that goes through the joys and the trials of life together, acknowledging that God uses this community to deepen and mature our faith. We believe in a God who loves this broken world and wants to reconcile us to Himself. Therefore we are commissioned by Christ to go out into the world, meeting the holistic needs of the local and global community. God calls us to participate in a redemptive work that he has already initiated; in humility, we will partner with others to work alongside and chase after Him. We believe in a God who is our center. Therefore where we are on the journey is less important than that we are moving towards a deeper relationship with Christ. We believe and participate in God’s redemptive work in all people, which gives us the freedom to come as we are, and to accept others as they are. We each are on a unique journey to become who God has created us to be. 36