Thursday, February 18, 2016

Church #57. The Salvation Army

Believe it or not, this group does more than just Christmas Kettles and support for impoverished.
They are a Church, and a very interesting one at that.

I must say I had a fun time trying to find a Salvation Army "church" as many of the things one finds listed under the name "Salvation Army" are almost all donation or support centers. But I was able to sift through it all and found a very lovely church on the east side of the city. I also noticed that group actually refers to there place of worship as a temple (this is rooted in Jewish tradition) while still referring to themselves as a church.  There is also no Cross at the front of this church, instead there is simply a wall decorated with the words of .....Psalm 96:6

One of the first things I noticed when I went to sit down in the main body of the church, was that this place has a uniform.....sort of. Roughly a quarter of the people in the church (men and women) were wearing a dark blue military style dress suit with the pointed lapels on the collar brandishing a large silver "S" on each side. This church had roughly 100 people (including all the members of the choir and brass band) This church appears to have a slight majority of women and a crazy amount of kids and even a few teenagers. The population here is mostly caucasian with a few visible minorities.

Surprisingly enough, despite the strict-looking uniforms and scattered use of military terms,  this church is shockingly laid-back! The members are friendly, the church leaders have no issue cracking jokes throughout the sermon, or even having fun playing with the kids! This church appears to have two major focuses: one clearly being service, but one that my be slightly less known, is the evangelistic side. This church has a very strong "Christ Alone" message to it. 

One thing I learned very quickly is that this church didn't have a problem getting people to quiet down for the service. Striking up the brass band seems to do a very good job at getting everyone's attention! Its also kind of a fun way to start a church service.

I watched as a large assortment of brass instruments that were laid out on a long table that sat before the speakers podium. Trumpets mostly, but the full collection also included trombones and tubas. Later in that service it was revealed that theses were instruments that the church had newly procured and were being designated for the purpose of worshipping the Lord.

"Make a Joyful Noise!"

The speaker took the time to give us some insight into just how significant song and music is in the Bible. He quoted Judges 5:3 NIV

"Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers! I, even I, will sing to the LORD; I will praise the LORD, the God of Israel, in song!"

He then continued to quote a long list of other Bible passages related to singing in worship. Mostly from the Old Testament and one from the New. If I remember correctly it was Ephesians 5:19 NIV.

"speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,"

And if you have any further doubt about the importance of song and instruments in church, please see any and all the commands of King David on how to worship God. One of his major and most common decrees, was to literally designate large bands of skilled musicians with their instruments to service in the temple and worship of the Lord. 

Side note: Today is Feb 14th! Happy Valentines day!

 Who was Saint Valentine?

Following, there was children's time.
All the kids church and showed the rest of the congregation what they had been practicing. Which was how to recite John 3:16 all in hand movements and actions!

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

Daily Quote: " You can't talk about Jesus or God without talking about love!"

It was also acknowledged that today was the first Sunday of Lent. Lent being a time to give up a luxury in our lives, and focus on the death and suffering of Christ in preparation for Easter. We also received some fun facts. Did you know the original Lent was actually just 40 hours of fasting? Which was then changed to 6 days, and then eventually settled out at 40 days. The Church leader told the Congregational that she had decided to give up playing games on her phone for lent. She admitted to the fact that she had become slightly addicted to her games, and humorously said "I am getting the shakes from this!" .

Then I got lost. 
The scripture reading that was supposed to relate to Valentines day was Genesis 1? How this relates to love I don't know. I think the church leader briefly explained why she believed that the two go together...But I don't recall what she said. 

But anyhow we covered the three major points that are in relation to the creation of man. 

#1. Humanity was made in God's Image and Likeness.

#2. Humanity has been given dominion over the earth. 
I like the fact that she pointed out that we forfeited some of this right after the fall, and we, overall have done a terribly poor job of being God's stewards of the earth. We have destroyed much of it with pollution, put price tags on it, continue to take it for granted. 

#3. Humanity is ordered to be fruitful and multiply.
Then speaker then declared that the interpretation that EVERYONE should be married and having kids is wrong. She pointed out, that neither Jesus, or the Apostle Paul ever got married or had children.

But wait....did they? and if no, then why not?....

Spoiler alert.
Two questions might shake the foundation of everything you have ever known.....

#1.  Was Jesus Married? A Careful Look at the Real Evidence
#2.  Was the Apostle Paul Gay? 

But I don't think we are done with this... if we are going this far might as well throw in the conspiracy theories too!
Did you know that Jesus actually had 3 kids and his oldest son Josephus, hold the blood line (with the addition of the blood line of James the Just and his wife Anna) that is responsible for all of the Blue Blood Royal Families of the Western World????!!!!!!


The Blood line of Christ and Generation No.100

I have too much fun at this some days

But over all a very good experience. I don't think this church is exactly what I am looking for, but I can see the appeal, and how other might definitely like it.

Salute, and Carry On!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Church #56. Robertson-Wesley United Church.

Hello Sunday morning! I see you are here again... on time...
*sips coffee in an attempt to wake up.*

Ok, we are here!

I also noticed one of these cute little library boxes outside of the church! So cute and handy!

There were roughly 75 people there, mostly families and seniors, but there were a few 20-somethings there (with some very stylish haircuts.) The majority of this church is caucasian with a few visible minorities. 

I found it interesting that  there was both a male and female church leader, in almost identical robes, that took turns back and forth leading and performing the church service. One of the first things that was read was the "Declaration of love and acceptance." And this is how it went:

"In response to God's call, we, the congregation of Robertson-Wesley United Church declare our commitment to opening our hearts and our church family to all people in our community, regardless of sexual orientation, age, gender, differing abilities, ethnicity or economic circumstance.  We recognize that many peoples lives continue to be devastated by hatred and prejudice, and inequality, therefore, as a compassionate and caring spiritual community we will stand with those who are adversely affected by injustice, alienation and oppression." 

When I hear this, and think of Christ, it makes a lot of sense.
Jesus constantly went against-the-grain in his society to help those that were helpless or rejected. He spoke with people of a different tribe, which no Jews would have anything to do with (see Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman in John 4). He stood against a group of men, that were about to inflict the death penalty on a prostitute, even thou the law considered this punishment acceptable (see John 8:1-11). He went out into the countryside to heal many chronically ill and  highly infectious people. This was completely taboo to the Jewish people.

Jesus broke the rules, and I love him!

After that announcements were made.  This is a church that clearly enjoys having a participation in the arts, as they announced a list of art/theater related activities planned including group meals. One event that caught my attention, was an +18 event that they called "God on Tap".  I was actually very excited to hear this because I have attended a similar event hosted by a Unitarian minister that was open to all people of faith, and I truly enjoyed the experience. Basically, you plan to meet as a group in a bar/pub and you enjoy your drinks and food while having a small group discussion on the topic of the day. For example, when I attended a similar event our question was, "What does it mean to live bravely in your faith?" I personally suggest planning or finding one of these events for yourself.

Highly Recommended!  

Before the scripture lesson, we had children's time. So all the children ran up to the front of the church and they were asked to think about a time, when they asked God for help. Answers ranged from learning how to ride a bike, all the way to fighting with someone. After the lesson was done, the small stampede of roughly 20 kids herded there way downstairs, while the adults remained for the scripture lesson.

Today was two stories in one, Jesus heals Jairus' daughter and Jesus heals the woman with the "Issue of Blood"

In between theses two stories, I am sure one could find enough material to speak for hours, but the church leader kept it short. He spoke on how this well-known and respected Rabbi had to humble himself immensely to go find Jesus and fall at his feet, as his last hope of saving his daughter. Hope became a centerpoint of the conversation. It was said that the bleeding woman put all her hope in Christ and that is what healed her. The man with the ill daughter almost lost all hope when he left the house  to go seek out Jesus, only to be coming back to home to hear that his daughter died while he was gone.

I suggest fallowing the link, I think it gives a really good break down of this piece of scripture.
Jesus Heals Jairus’ Daughter (Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43)

An interesting side note to this was this is one of the few pieces of scripture where Jesus's exact words in his native tong of Aramaic are quoted. “Talitha koum!” which translates to roughly “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”

Fun fact:
Jesus's spoken language = Aramaic.
Language Gospels are written in = Common Greek.

I am not sure how closely these languages are compatible but I am once again reminded  how important it is to study the Bible in deeper detail. Especially when it comes to translation of words.

I will never forget the Torah (Old Testament) study session I had with a Rabbi. He took one old testament verse from a King James Bible and read it out, and the impression of it was strong, threatening and imperialistic. He then took the exact same piece of scripture from the original Hebrew in the Torah, the translation he gave had a completely different tone. It was comparable to the strong, warm, and loving heart, that a parent has for their child. 100% different without question. It blew my mind then, and still does to this day.

You might also be surprised to know, getting to our readable English Bible we have today, was one heck of a struggle.
Timeline of how we got the English Bible

Quotes of the day:

"We get told 1000 ways 'Don't get your hopes up! '"

"We know as long as God is with us, there is hope!"

By the way, this is one of these older churches, you can really see some of the western frontier architecture in the building. And of coarse, beautiful stain glass.

But this really caught me....... I have never seen Jesus being tempted by the Devil in the desert for 40 days, actually put into a window panel. Nor have I ever seen the devil portrayed wearing first century Mediterranean clothing. I guess there is a first time for everything.

 Over all this was a good Sunday and I enjoyed my time at this church.

"Go into the world with daring and tender love!"