St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Fort Garry, in south Winnipeg has been around for nearing 100 years. We are a suburban gathering of people meeting in Fort Garry, but residing, working, schooling and playing all over the city of Winnipeg. We refer to ourselves as Paulinians, as a sign of respect for our patron, and as a clever way to distinguish ourselves from other communities of the same name.
We strive and struggle to be a welcoming, warm, and friendly people; sometimes awkward like a couple at their first dance, sometimes like ships in the night, yet always with the hope that we are seeing Christ in the stranger’s disguise.
People of all ages comprise Paulinians, infants to our elders, we are all fully members of the one Body of Christ. Our worship is a blending of old, new, creativity and originality and is somehow woven into our fabric, which is Anglicanism.
We endeavour to be open to and accepting of all peoples; especially in our age of diversity and change. Although we could never be all things to all people, we can share the road with all people.
What’s God Up To?
Geoff Woodcroft publishes a weekly update on "What's God Up To?". Please see below for this week's insight.
Creator wells-up in the collective heart of humanity. Love continues to be made accessible for all. Jesus ascended even to the least of creation; and that is where heaven is found today. May you find that home of God today. Below is my post for the week. gw
Making sense of heaven when so much looks like hell seems to be the draining call on so many of us. For most Christian folk, with whom I hang in the Anglican Church, we are very much products of teaching from yester-year. The notion/teaching that upon our death-beds our lives will be judged, and the result of that judgement will place our immortal souls in the eternal rest of heaven, or the eternal damnation of hell. I understand that many a tyrant was baptised on his or her death-bed, because they understood that their new found blessing, at a time they could no longer sin, guaranteed them a place in heaven. But, this same theological teaching the Church understood that it had power to keep undesirables and enemies out of heaven; in fact the Church became the judge.
There are 387 references to heaven in the Christian Testament, and 12 references to hell (Erdmann’s Concordance). Some of the references to heaven and hell can be interpreted as something for the future; yet, all references may be interpreted for every generation’s present age, that is, for the living. Many of the references are given in parable form, allegory and metaphor, and usually, if not always, as a state accessible from present reality.
My thinking is that neither heaven nor hell is waiting for a future judgement day; and, neither is waiting for death. I think this for two reasons: first, I believe people make a great hell without the help of any deity; and secondly, in my experience, specifically in loving relationships in this world, heaven is accessible and inviting NOW. Further to this, I think the Gospels and other Christian Testament letters lead us to the same conclusion about heaven’s accessibility, AND, we, disciples, have a roll in unfolding heaven for those whom we meet.
I am so quick to settle for hell when I feel out of control, fearful and forgotten. Hell is a second home as I get sucked into gossip, scapegoating, avoidance of the suffering of others, and my own prejudices. Hell has become something very normal in my life, and as such, calls me to withhold my open offering of self and stuff to the world. Hell makes me comfortable to NOT give my all to God, because God is carefully hidden in the hell I create.
Heaven, on the other hand, calls me away from the comfort of rest, the comfort of inactivity, into the possibility of the discomfort of grief and sorrow, change and transformation, suffering of the other, and the entering of others into my own suffering. Heaven that is accessible today implies that all of life is bound in mutual love, care and in interdependency with God.
What Easter 6, 2017
What does it mean to act in the name of Jesus Christ? For me, I have a feeling that I am part of something much bigger than me, yet fully reckoned as myself in that moment. The feeling in me suggests that I am part of something, not merely a messenger or slave, but part of the whole that is working out God’s call.
Allow me to further explain; the feeling of being part of something bigger than me roots itself in relationships of all kinds, human, environmental, etc. Relationships are about mutuality, which allows those involved to go beyond individual limitations (i.e. strength and endurance for starters). The Body of Christ is a present human gathering of Christian people, whose purpose is to live the life of the risen Christ for the world today. Living the life of Christ is to live as Jesus did through the Gospels – loving kindness, doing justice, and walking humbly with God, as God is found in all that lives – thus, to be the Body of Christ is to be the advocator, developer and sustainer of relationships – God’s home upon earth.
As we really work out what it means to be the actual Body of Christ, we are empowered with authority to utter such phrases as “Go. Your faith has made you well.” And “Follow me, and together we will tend to people.” The Easter Gospels demand from us our willingness to live and work as Christ; breaking bread together, spending time together to discern God’s call to us and the world, being present to all who suffer in any way, to seek and serve Christ in ALL whom we meet, and to offer care and nurture to all that lives.
To act in the name of Jesus Christ is to acknowledge that we belong to, and act as, the Body of Christ. To act in the name of Jesus Christ is to acknowledge that power and authority were given to you and me to comfort and strengthen the poor, powerless and oppressed, be agents of healing, and proclaim nurture. To act in the name of Jesus Christ is to live courageously, hopefully, and deeply spiritually in a world where many are forsaken and lost. gw