U is for the United Church of Canada The Advent Letter for Dec 21, 2019
My last few Advent letters have been about how we read the Bible. I hope they’ve been helpful to you as you think about God, and our relationship to Jesus.
I am grateful that much of my formation as a person of faith, and as a preacher, teacher, pastor, writer, and spiritual director has been within the United Church of Canada.
As a denomination we have been courageous, and sometimes controversial as we keep listening for God’s presence, and for the revelation of God’s purposes in history. We have not always got it right, and for the most part, I think, that serves to keep us humble in the face of the complexity of life, and the mystery of God. We have changed our minds about some very important things.
I choose to be part of an organization committed to stretching the imaginations, and the hearts of those who follow Jesus, with the aim of building, and re-building communities of inclusion. I don’t think Jesus would have us leave anyone out. When the way we read the Bible leads towards exclusion, we need to read again, with even more openness of heart, and mind.
In 2006 the United Church published “A Song of Faith” which proclaims:
We sing of Jesus,
born to a woman in poverty
in a time of social upheaval
and political oppression.
He knew human joy and sorrow.
So filled with the Holy Spirit was he
that in him people experienced the presence of God among them.
We sing praise to God incarnate.
Jesus announced the coming of God’s reign—
a commonwealth not of domination
but of peace, justice, and reconciliation.
He healed the sick and fed the hungry.
He forgave sins and freed those held captive
by all manner of demonic powers.
He crossed barriers of race, class, culture, and gender.
He preached and practised unconditional love—
love of God, love of neighbour,
love of friend, love of enemy—
and he commanded his followers to love one another
as he had loved them….
By becoming flesh in Jesus,
God makes all things new.
In Jesus’ life, teaching, and self-offering,
God empowers us to live in love.
In Jesus’ crucifixion,
God bears the sin, grief, and suffering of the world.
In Jesus’ resurrection,
God overcomes death.
Nothing separates us from the love of God.
The Advent Alphabet is a ministry offering from Rev. Darrow Woods, pastor at the United Church in Harrow, Ontario. Each day in Advent, a different letter of the English Alphabet will be a jumping off place for a reflection. These reflections will be sent out via email to those who have asked to be on the mailing list, and will also be posted to Rev. Darrow’s Facebook page.