The draft statement of faith [appended] leaves question inasmuch as "we are not replacing the Basis of Union" [p. 6].
The draft statement has achieved "to produce the draft of a timely and contextual statement of faith, with a view to circulation throughout the whole church for study and response, while honouring the diversity of our church and acknowledging our place in a pluralistic world and in an ongoing and developing tradition of faith..." though it evades the question of remit.
The draft statement is very time bound, something of the swing of the pendulum in its attempt to address historical abuses of the christian faith
|-||revelation is reduced to history carried by a people
the statement falls short of article iii
"We believe that God has revealed Himself in nature, in history, and in the heart of man; that He has been graciously pleased to make clearer revelation of Himself to men of God who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit; and that in the fulness of time He has perfectly revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, who is the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of His person. We receive the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, given by inspiration of God, as containing the only infallible rule of faith and life, a faithful record of God's gracious revelations, and as the sure witness to Christ."
leaving nothing to assert with authority that we might not offend others [see evangelism below]
|-||the person of Jesus Christ is diminished
the statement falls short of worship as in article i
"We worship Him in the unity of the Godhead and the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, three persons of the same substance, equal in power and glory."
|-||evangelism as in article xx is conspicuously absent
"...we joyfully receive the word of Christ, bidding His people go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, declaring unto them that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, and that He will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth"
though we can evangelize pluralism, sexuality, anti-racism, and alternative economy
The sense of the draft statement is then quite different from the doctrinal articles while it presents itself as not changing the basis of union and not requiring remit.
The difference is comparable to where a Russian Czar banished a courtier to Siberia but permitted the Queen to write a personal message on his order provided she did not change one word he wrote
...the Czar's order read
TO BE SENT TO SIBERIA
...the Queen's personal message was simply a period
TO BE SENT TO SIBERIA
The sense of the message was then quite different though not one word was changed.
The trusts attached to property do not restrict the church from restating its faith in contemporary language but require the statement to be "in conformity with...and not otherwise" the doctrinal articles. The church must decide if the draft statement is "in conformity with...and not otherwise" or whether remit is required.
A Statement of Faith
God is Holy Mystery,
beyond complete knowledge, above perfect description.
Yet in love, the one eternal God creates and seeks relationship:
within the Divine being,
Creating all that is, God provides the very possibility of our being and relating.
Tending all that is, God mends the broken and reconciles the estranged.
Enlivening all that is, God completes what God began.
Grateful for God's loving action, we cannot then be silent.
In awe and trust, we speak of God:
known in creation, in history, and as the one whom Jesus called Father;
known in the life, death, and resurrection of the child of Wisdom, Jesus the Christ;
known in the revitalizing and transforming power as the Holy Spirit.
With the Church through the ages,
we speak of God as one and triune:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Our words, while necessary, are limited.
We sometimes make false gods of them and use them to exclude or denigrate others.
We therefore also speak of God:
as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer;
as God, Christ, and Spirit;
as Mother, Friend, and Comforter;
as Source of Life, Living Word, and Bond of Love;
and in other ways that speak faithfully of
the one God on whom our hearts rely,
the one God who is eternally creating, redeeming, and sustaining,
the one God who is the fully shared life at the heart of the universe.
We witness to Holy Mystery that is Wholly Love.
God is creative and self-giving,
generously pouring Godself out
into all the near and distant corners of the universe.
All creation is good.
Nothing exists that does not find its source in God,
who provides all things.
The first response to God's providence is gratitude.
Creation is diverse.
The myriad of creaturely beings,
animate and inanimate,
in innumerable shapes and forms,
all reveal unique aspects of the Creator.
Yet all creatures--
field mouse, fern, and soaring eagle,
ocean, star, and human child--
Sensing our connectedness
and perceiving the beauty inherent in all that is,
we are drawn to seek out the mysteries of creation,
the secrets of subatomic particles,
the farthest reaches of the universe.
We search the heavens for the origin of all that was and is.
God calls us to locate ourselves in the web of life,
of which we are but one strand.
God calls us to live with respect in creation.
We are finite beings.
Our finitude reminds us of our dependence and our connection,
to one another and
to the Source of all Being.
In and with God, we are able
to grow in wisdom and compassion;
to nurture our relationships with each other and with all of creation;
to defend the dignity of all things created by the Living God.
A life set in this direction is life lived
in and to the glory of God.
We are restless for the fulfilment that is life in God,
but we choose less.
This is sin.
We hunger for the divine
but consume instead that which does not satisfy our longing.
We seek to live in right relationship
with others and with God.
By the tragic subversion of our potential,
we are in bondage to and complacent within
a matrix of false desires and wrong choices.
In these are manifest the tragic outcomes of sin--
the evil that is hatred, violence, greed, and selfishness;
the domination of economic, political, and military empires;
rampant consumerism and unchecked accumulation of wealth;
limitless growth and damage to creation.
Evil does not,
undermine or overcome
the love of God.
The essence of the Divine
enfolds and forgives,
reconciles and transforms
the results of sin.
The God who is wholeness
calls us to acknowledge our fears and failings
with honesty and humility.
The God who is justice
calls us to repent the devastations we have wrought,
the disintegrations we have abetted,
and the hubris from which we suffer.
The God who is compassion
calls us to protect the vulnerable,
to pray for those who do evil, and
to work that all might have abundant life.
We live and move and have our being in God.
We both flourish in this original blessing
and live among fractured relationships in a broken world.
Because of our interconnectedness, our actions have far-reaching effects
whether conspiring with others to create a climate of evil
or cooperating with others to make opportunities for God's realm to take root.
Our nature and identity are not seen in the selfish individualism
with which we delude and damage ourselves and others,
but in the loving relatedness of the Creating One
who is our beginning and our end.
From the beginning
the Spirit has swept over the face of creation,
animating all energy and matter
and moving within the human heart.
In our deep longing, the Holy Mystery speaks our prayers
of awe and gratitude,
vocation and compassion.
The Spirit continually enlivens and transforms us and the world.
Through beauty, truth, and goodness
we encounter the Mystery of Spirit.
As the Spirit keeps faith with us,
so our understanding of the Divine is sure and dependable;
and as the Spirit is vast and untameable,
so our understanding of the Divine is partial and limited.
The Spirit fills creation in diverse ways
and makes the Divine knowable, not only to us but also to others.
We understand faith as an experience common to humanity,
as a shared response to God's self-giving;
and we know that our own and others' expressions of faith are often distorted
by insecurity, intolerance, and hatred.
How others perceive God is often foreign to our perception.
The Spirit challenges us to find God
not only in what is familiar,
but also in that which is beyond our comprehension.
The breadth of Spirit calls us away from isolation
to consider the Spirit's freedom of movement beyond our experience and,
however our expressions of faith may differ,
to act toward all with the same love by which God acts toward us.
We know the Holy One as made known to the Jewish people:
as the One who is source and sustainer of the good creation,
as the One who liberates,
as the One who creates and keeps faith with a covenant relationship,
as the One who justly judges and compassionately forgives,
as the One who promises that all will share in abundant life.
In the scriptures that we call the Old or First Testament,
we see a true witness to the Holy One.
We know the Holy One through Jesus of Nazareth,
a Jew born in an obscure comer of the Roman Empire,
far from the centres of wealth and earthly power.
He knew the love of friends and family,
the pleasure of food shared,
the satisfaction of work,
the joy of companionship.
He also knew the hard face of oppression,
the pain of hunger, the sting of poverty.
Filled with the Holy Spirit,
Jesus announced the coming of God's reign of justice and peace.
He healed the sick, fed the hungry, forgave sins,
and freed those held captive to demonic powers.
He called people
to turn away from fear, hatred, greed, and violence, and
to turn to the way of God.
He taught us to love our enemies,
for we cannot love God without loving our neighbour,
and he commanded his friends and followers to love one another
as he had loved them.
He was the friend of those labelled "outcasts' and "sinners"
and often shared meals with them,
breaking down the barriers of class and religion
put in place by a culture of status and privilege.
So filled by the Spirit was he
that in him people experienced the presence of God among them,
the nearness and immediacy of God's reign.
As it does today,
such an ethic of love lived out
threatened those ensnared by hate, isolation, and alienation.
Those exercising power unjustly opposed Jesus until,
as they have done so often before and since,
they sought to silence him.
Jesus suffered abandonment and betrayal by friends,
and torture and execution by government.
He was crucified--
a form of death intended to blot his name from all memory.
His remaining friends and followers fled and scattered.
But death was not the last word.
God raised Jesus from death,
turning sorrow into joy,
despair into hope.
By becoming flesh in Jesus, God enters creation
to transform its wasting away and thus to restore its integrity.
In Jesus' life, teaching, and self-offering,
God's forgiveness 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,
reconciles and makes all creation new,
faithful to what God in love has created.
Nothing separates us from the love of God.
The Risen Christ lives today,
present to us and the source of our hope
that nothing can hinder the Compassionate Love
that is the origin and end of all.
In Christ the Holy Mystery opens the unimaginable reaches of eternity
and the surprising riches of this one deep moment.
In response to who Jesus was
and to all he did and taught,
to his life, death, and resurrection,
and to his continuing presence with us through the Spirit,
we celebrate him as
the Word made flesh;
the One in whom God and humanity are perfectly joined;
the Messiah promised of old,
In the scriptures that we call the New or Second Testament,
we see a faithful witness to the Holy One.
We know the Holy One as Spirit,
in whose company courage is lived,
injustice is righted,
and meaning is articulated.
The story of Jesus continues in the story of the church.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit,
honouring living tradition,
directed toward the future,
and engaged fully in the present,
we are called to embody Jesus' life for the world:
to love what he loved,
to live what he taught,
to be faithful to God in our time and place.
Recognizing our brokenness within a broken world,
we nonetheless rejoice in God's undiscouraged love:
gathering around the font to baptize,
assembling around the table to share bread and wine,
praising and praying,
being challenged and nurtured by the words of scripture,
seeking justice and resisting evil,
living with respect in creation,
teaching and being taught,
comforting and being comforted,
encouraging and being encouraged,
scattering to serve,
always seeking the face of Christ in the face of our neighbour.
Among the creations into which Spirit
has breathed revelatory power is scripture,
a complex coherence of two testaments
written in various literary genres.
Our ancestral faith is set in story,
passed on from generation to generation;
in laws given to guide the community;
in Psalms prayed in Spirit-filled praise and lament;
in prophetic voices that chastise and call out in hope;
in wisdom sayings to bring health and life;
in visions of God's future that judge our present in order to redeem it;
in testimonies to how Jesus' life, death, and resurrection changes the world;
and in accounts of the vision and challenges of the early pilgrims of Jesus' way.
After a period of discernment, guided by the Spirit,
the community chose texts to bear human witness to divine revelation,
earthen vessels of human language,
occupying a unique and normative place in the community's life.
The wholeness of scripture testifies to the oneness and faithfulness of God.
The multiplicity of scripture testifies to its diversity:
two testaments rather than one,
four gospels rather than one,
contrasting points of view held in tension--
diversity of expression necessary for faithful witness
to the One and Triune God,
the Holy Mystery that is Wholly Love.
The words of scripture are God's gift,
given to be in our mouths and hearts,
to teach to our children,
to talk of in our houses,
our song an the way,
better than gold and silver.
We confess that we can and do turn the words of scripture
into words of death, texts of terror
for those whom,
in our arrogance and alienation,
we regard as inferior, or as other.
We acknowledge that scripture judges us when we so abuse and distort it.
Scripture is not too hard to live out,
nor far off,
nor in heaven,
that we should say,
who will go up for us to heaven,
and bring it to us
that we may hear it and do it.
It is near us,
in our mouths and hearts,
that we might do it,
and so we are called to be doers of the Word,
and not hearers only.
In the guidance of the Spirit, our ancestors in faith
passed through seasons of the year and seasons of their lives,
confessed their faith and constructed churches,
passing on ways of being faithful.
This cloud of witnesses
bequeaths to us experiences and expressions of faith.
Though some of their heritage becomes reference rather than reality for us,
upon their lives our lives are built.
Our living of the gospel makes us a part of this communion of saints,
experiencing the fulfillment of God's reign
even as we actively wait for that time,
for there is a time of a new heaven and a new earth.
We cultivate a community infused with the Holy Spirit,
the Body of Christ,
living an emerging faith,
open to the leading of that Blessed Spirit
into fresh ways of being faithful.
For we are called to be a blessing to the nations.
Early in the life of the church
the Christian communities were small outports of God's kingdom,
proclaiming and enacting good news for the poor and outcast.
They later grew in number and power,
allying with great cities and empires,
silencing by force diverse expressions of faith,
harming rather than caring for Gods children.
Mindful of the wide community we affect
by all our prayer, our worship, our work,
we seek to turn from a life centred on self,
toward a life centred on God and the other.
We move in a spirit of discipleship
to witness to the relatedness of all humanity.
We carry sorrow, grief, and shame for our wounding actions
across this whole beloved and beleaguered world.
With sorrow we confess that we have often failed to be the church:
acting without mutuality and accountability,
judging others harshly,
denying the dignity and integrity of others' faith and culture,
identifying with the rich and the strong,
living by entitlement rather than by grace,
seeking to be comfortable rather than to be faithful,
causing rather than alleviating suffering,
even bringing death rather than life.
In so doing, we turn our prayer, worship, and work into blasphemy.
With God's help we turn from our sin
and seek to be agents of God's healing and reconciliation.
Repenting of our closed minds and hearts,
now we choose to listen to our neighbours in faith,
to respect them and the integrity of their understanding,
to work together for a whole earth of peace and justice.
We participate in God's work of healing and mending creation
expressed in both personal and communal dimensions:
living God's love in our relationships,
working to realize God's love in how we organize our collective life.
In these and all other grateful responses to God's abundant love,
we bear in mind our integral connection to the earth and one another,
modelled in the organic nature of the triune God.
Christian communal responsibility in our day especially includes:
attending to the well-being of our home the earth;
repenting of European-Canadian hostility toward Aboriginal peoples;
resisting economic exploitation, the idolatry of the market economy,
and the marginalization of people because of gender, ethnicity, or sexuality;
challenging the misuse of Christian language
to promote hatred rather than love, and war rather than peace;
fostering a climate of faithful hope in opposition to a culture of covert despair; and
constructively recreating our identity and role in the community of the earth.
In company with the churches of the Reformed tradition
we keep two sacraments,
those named in the New Testament: baptism and Holy Communion.
In these sacraments the ordinary things of life
--water, bread, wine--
become for us visible signs of the grace of God.
They point beyond themselves to God and God's love,
and they teach us to be alert for the presence of God in the midst of life.
Baptism by water in the name of the Holy Trinity
is the means by which we receive both children and adults
into the fellowship of the church
and is the ritual that signifies our rebirth in faith
and cleansing by the power of God.
Before conscious thought or action on our part
we are born into the brokenness of this world.
Before conscious thought or action on our part
we are surrounded by God's redeeming love.
Recalling the Spirit's brooding over the waters at creation's birth,
remembering the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea,
recalling the water flowing from the rock for our grandparents in faith,
echoing Jesus' own baptism in the Jordan River,
and symbolizing Jesus' death and resurrection,
baptism signifies the nurturing, sustaining, and transforming power of God's love.
In baptizing infants or children,
parents and the baptizing community commit themselves
to live as followers of Jesus,
to encourage those baptized to grow with them in faith,
and themselves to follow Jesus' way of love and service.
Those who are baptized as adults affirm their readiness to follow Jesus
by entering into the life and ministry of the church.
Baptism is both a sign of God's freely given love
and abundantly poured-out grace,
and of our grateful response to that love and grace.
Where table fellowship identified and reinforced
social distinctions and hierarchies,
Jesus shared meals without regard to status or respectability.
In our life the open table speaks of the shining promise
of breaking down barriers of
class, politics, race, religion, poverty, wealth, gender, and sexuality,
of a creation healed and restored to God,
where all will rejoice together in the unity of love.
The communion meal, in wine poured out and bread broken,
recalls not only the promise but also the price that Jesus paid
for who he was,
for what he did and said, and
for the world's brokenness.
The last time he sat at table with his friends
he instructed them to remember him and his unreserved giving of himself
for them, for us, and for all.
We come to the communion table at Christ's invitation,
as Christ's guests and friends, thereby commissioned
to feed as we have been fed,
to love as we have been loved.
There, by the Spirit with us,
we are renewed in faith and hope,
as with mind and heart, sight, touch, smell, and taste,
we enter into the mystery of God's great love for us
as we know it in Christ.
In faith we offer worship,
out of a deep spiritual longing, opening ourselves
to the whisper of the still, small Voice
bringing us comfort, compassion, and mission
and to the rush of the Whirlwind
shaking the foundations of our being.
Through worship the Spirit changes our lives, our relationships, and our world.
Through word, music, art, and sacrament,
in community and in solitude,
worship houses our gratitude, praise, and concerns.
the Holy enfolds our praise, gratitude, concerns for others, ourselves, and the world;
we confess our wrongdoings, and our omissions,
trusting that Providence hears, heals, and energizes all;
and the world is changed.
As all Christians are followers of Jesus,
so each Christian is called to ministry,
given particular gifts by the Spirit.
God calls all Christians
to honour and nurture their spirituality,
to prayerfully consider their place in the world,
to use their particular gifts,
to respond in discipleship, stewardship, and compassion.
Gifts are diverse.
Ministries take varied forms.
All are essential for the work of the church.
Lay leadership within the church
is a calling that many of the faithful answer, trusting the Spirit,
serving God's mission entrusted to the church
in grateful response to God's gracious love.
God calls some to ministries of Word, sacrament, pastoral care, education,
which the community of faith formally recognizes and orders
even as it values all gifts and ministries.
The church is entrusted to offer for those called to these ministries
thorough discernment, extensive formation, and comprehensive education.
Ordered ministers are called by and are accountable to the church.
Those called to and recognized in these ministries offer their gifts,
to strengthen the church and
to empower all to discern their gifts and take up their ministries.
Those called to witness to the good news
speak the truth about both good and evil, and
proclaim the height, depth, and breadth of God's love.
Those called to guide the art of worship,
apprehend the sacraments as sacred,
as life-changing, and as world-nurturing.
Those called to comfort the grieving and guide the wandering
offer the experience of a cared-for community, and
nurture the hope of the Christian faith.
Those called to learn and teach the faith
bring gathered wisdom and considered insight, and
build up the community in wisdom and truth.
Those called to work for justice
speak prophetically and act with passion.
Though heaven and earth shall be transformed,
we place our hope in God,
who promises a future good beyond imagining:
a new heaven and a new earth,
the end of sorrow,
the end of pain,
the end of tears,
life with God,
the making new of all things.
We yearn for the coming of that future,
even while partaking of eternal life now,
life in the Spirit,
a foretaste of the day of the abundant feast,
an open table shining with promise.
We await Christ's return
when God's purposes for creation will be completed.
Though we know not when that hour will be,
many in our day seek such knowledge
and false prophets lead many astray, preaching
a neo-apocalyptic gospel of smug triumphalism and
the abandonment of the earth.
We reject that false gospel,
choosing instead to love our enemies and to care for the earth,
We wait in hope,
giving food to the hungry,
giving drink to the thirsty,
welcoming the stranger,
clothing the naked,
visiting the prisoners.
Divine creation does not cease until
all things have found wholeness, union,
and integration with the common ground of all being.
As children of the Timeless One,
our time-bound lives will find completion in the all-embracing Creator.
To that end we who are friends of Jesus cannot be silent.
Grateful for God's loving action,
in awe and trust,
creating and seeking relationship,
We witness to Holy Mystery that is Wholly Love.