Community or Society?

Québec Parliament Building, 1901 Québec Parliament Building, 1901, from Wikipedia

Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people – 1 Peter 2:10

What is a people? Unfortunately we usually take the word to simply mean the plural of “person”. But the meaning of the word here is distinct – it speaks of a cohesive people group. In Quebec we have a somewhat clearer idea of what a people is than elsewhere in Canada. We often speak of “the Québécois people.” We argue about the definition of the Québécois nation – is it ethnic, linguistic, or cultural? Can you become Québécois? (I used to think so, but with time I’m losing hope…)

Rebuilding the parish

Notre Dame Photo by Nivenn Lanos on Unsplash

I recently spoke with some friends who are members of l’Église du Plateau in Montréal. They were telling me about their church small group, and how it is made up of good friends who all live within about three minutes’ walk of each other. I find this amazing, but it is not terribly surprising, since about half of the members of the church live in the neighbourhood around it, which allows for an organic community and natural involvement in their entourage.

If, as I suggested last week, we need to show people a complete picture of the Kingdom of God so that they can understand the message of the gospel, I believe that in our context, a hyper-localised approach is the way forward. Unlike in the past, when Christianity was everywhere, we no longer have the resources or the people to saturate our society with lights that shine before men, so that they may see our good works and glorify our Father (Matthew 5:16). But if we concentrate on, and concentrate ourselves in, a specific neighbourhood, we can make the Kingdom very visible there.

The Last Piece of the Puzzle, Or, Why Evangelism Doesn't Work Anymore

La Joconde

Have you ever done a puzzle? Imagine you’re sitting at your kitchen table, in front of a beautiful image that’s almost done – to be a bit artsy, let’s say it’s the Mona Lisa. There are just two or three pieces left to go, right in the middle of her face. As you place them – the pieces that form her smile – you feel the joy of seeing one of history’s greatest works of art, finally complete, before your eyes.

Seek First The Kingdom of God

Chateau

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his justice…

If you have spent any time in the chrurch, you have surely heard, sung, and listened to sermons on these words. And I suspect that I am not the only one who deeply misunderstood them for quite a while. I always assumed what Jesus is saying here is to work on my personal relationship with God. It’s the idea of the quiet time or personal devotions. Alone, in my inner room, with the door closed.

Work, Community and Isolation

Barn Raising Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

“In traditional societies, people’s daily labour rendered a service to the community, strengthened its social cohesion and gained them public respect”

A theory from the economic sociology of Karl Polyani1 underlines modern work as a source of isolation and community dis-integration in our society:

“when people become wage labourers… their daily labour is ‘disembedded’ from their social matrix and they lose their inherited values and cultural identity … they labour for the money needed for their survival.”

The Gospel of the Kingdom

Church

Last Sunday, my pastor started his sermon by asking a question:

“Why do you come to church?”

He asked the question in the context of a decrease in Sunday morning attendance, and the answer that came to my mind was:

We don’t come to church, we are the church. That’s what God made us for.

Community is hard -- and that's a good thing

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves… - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

As we’ve been sharing the idea for Le Voisinage with our students, several have made comments along the lines of, “This is a really exciting project! But I could never be part of it, because…” and then some variation of, “I don’t know if I could live with other people,” “I like living alone,” or even, “I don’t want to be around awkward Christians.”

Or to paraphrase, “Living with others is hard and uncomfortable”.

They have a point.

Le Voisinage, or, So what are we doing?

Voisinage header

We want to reach three types of people at once. Jesus promises that the supernatural love between Christians will make the world see that God sent him, that God has loved us, and that we are his disciples. What’s more, our society is experiencing a crisis of community.

It is on the foundation of these three principles that the student ministry team in Quebec City is building our plan for the coming years. We want to build a community based on this love, which will show convinced Christians, questioning Christians, and people who have no experience of faith, that Jesus changes everything.

The Model of This World : Bad Maps

USS Jeannette The eighth of July 1879. The USS Jeannette leaves California on an expedition to reach the North Pole.

Following a map created by the cartographer August Peterman, who believed that a temperate current flowed northward through the Bering Strait and would bring the ship to an open polar sea.

Peterman’s theory is false, the ship finds itself stuck in the ice, and after two years of drifting, it is crushed by the building pressure. Captain George Washington De Long, along with 20 of his 32 crewmen, die trying to find their way back to land.