A reflection from Nick Phillips, posted on his blog. Shared with permission.
Last week I went to Moncton for a regional gathering for Cruxfusion we dubbed “Crux East”
There were about 20 of us in attendance, not a big crowd, but enough for fellowship and to make new friends. This, after all, is just our first regional gathering, so I didn’t expect it to be overflowing with people. I’m not sure we could have handled a big crowd for our first time, to be perfectly honest.
However, it was life-giving, freeing, uplifting and hopeful.
It’s nice to be able to sit among a group and share openly thoughts about Jesus and the church without fear of being judged or chastised. As we sat around the restaurant tables during one of the meals, one colleague commented, “It’s nice to not have to self-censor.” We all agreed.
It was nice to not have to carefully select our words when we talked about our faith in Christ. It was nice to not feel like we had to be silent because we worry someone might jump all over us for what we might say.
It was nice to be “ourselves.”
Without worry. Without fear. Without feeling the need to put up walls and defences because we were talking about Jesus Christ, only begotten Son of the Father, the Saviour of the world, the Lamb who’s blood washes away my sin, the Messiah.
I’m sure people with other beliefs in this church also appreciate the same opportunities when they arise. I’m glad they too have the chance to share.
Nothing fills my soul more than being with people who share a belief in Jesus Christ, fully divine, fully man, and can share openly about how he has impacted our lives and the lives of our churches forever.
It is my prayer, that if you believe in Jesus Christ as Lord of all, and are connected to the United Church of Canada, you will find a place to be inspired by others, a place to share in story and testimony, and a place where you can be open with your beliefs. Maybe even Cruxifusion in a place where you can find it.
I think it is wonderful that like-minded, Christ-centered United Chuch ministers are able to gather to support each other, share their challenges and speak about their love for, and trust in, Jesus. I even understand when you say “It’s nice to be able to sit among a group and share openly thoughts about Jesus and the church without fear of being judged or chastised.” However, I was really taken aback when you said ““It’s nice to not have to self-censor.”
Our church is in deep, deep trouble if those ministers who claim Jesus as Lord are unwilling to proclaim their faith in full. If God is for us, who can be against us. I would hope that a forum like Crux would give each individual the courage to go forward to stand up and be heard in a church that continues to lose its way.
If you are not willing to share the Good News, what’s so good about it?
The post had me almost in tears. I sometimes feel like an “old-time Methodist”, often out of step with my faith community. In worship, I am often moved to tears, or want to rise hands, giving physical expression to the Spirit’s moving in my heart. I feel the restraint, however, of not fitting in or someone thinking/saying, “… She is trying to draw attention to herself”.
I have often left with a heaviness of heart, feeling torn, wondering if I was right or wrong; I don’t want to be a stumbling block to anyone, but I also have a sense that I have grieved the Holy Spirit in failing to honor the presence of the Spirit.
I am not in ministry, and I wish that Cruxifusion was for lay people, too. Thank you for this forum to share, and I am open to suggestions and/or directions.
God be with you as the work you are doing is unto the Kingdom.
Judy! I’m so glad you posted this. Cruxifusion is absolutely for Lay people! I am a lay person, and I had the blessing of attending this past weekends conference. It was truly building, uplifting, and beautiful. Tears fell, and hands were absolutely raised in the air! Sister, feel welcome in this community, and feel free to get in touch with Nick if you’d like my email– I’m always on the look out for other cruxer lay people!
It’s a topsy -turvy world if you can’t share Jesus Christ in your own church!
I have met United Church Ministers who don’t believe that Jesus is the Son
of God. While testing the church speaker system I was told not to read from
the Bible as this might offend some church visitors!!
Dave … The diversity in the church has been presented as one of our U/C strengths.
When reading from the Bible might offend someone, the cost of diversity is too high.
A lady .. A life-long, devoted, senior member of the church complained of our minister in words very similar to this:
“I don’t come to church to be taught … We just want our comfortable pew back …”
O woe … And I could not locate my copy of “The Comfortable Pew” from decades back. I am quite sure that our lady had not read it.
Like your being told not to read from the Bible, Dave, if it wasn’t so pathetic, it would tickle a funny bone.
The Spirit must surely be grieved.
I was a faithful member of the United Church since I was 7. I loved being in church & felt such a part of the church family. My parents & siblings attended faithfully as well. However I don’t remember hearing a message on salvation. At 41 I began to have a restlessness & realize I didn’t really know God or His Word. About a year later I quietly put my life in God’s hands & everything changed!! That was in 1984. I began to have such a desire to know God & His Word. I attended every Christian gathering I could & started going to Bible Studies.
Then in 1988 I realized the Gospel was not being preached in my church. I felt like “a voice crying out in the wilderness” many times in session. The day after General Council made the decision to accept homosexuals in the pulpit I was in church & was so upset I felt like all I wanted to do was cry. When the student minister led the communion that day she said, “As we take communion, we express our loyalty to Jesus Christ AND to the United Church of Canada”. At that point I decided I could not take part in communion. I decided to leave quietly & as I went out the door the thought came all of a sudden that I was not going back. I felt a freedom I hadn’t felt in a long time.
I really didn’t know where I would attend church. As I thought of the different Christian Denominations I might attend, I realized I was a “dyed in the wool United Church ” person . [ All that changed when I became a part of Christian Women’s Club”] I didn’t attend church for a whole year.
Then I realized other people who had attended my church & left, were going to the Congregational Church about 30 minutes away. I went & felt so at home & relaxed as I heard the Word preached without compromise. I attended that church for 10 years. Then in 1999 God spoke to my heart at one of the services & said, “If I called you to do something & you didn’t want to do it, but you knew it was what I wanted you to do, would you do it?” I said, “Yes”. I couldn’t imagine He’d call me back to the United Church, but the thought was in my mind.
About 3 months later I was at a non-denominational church camp & God spoke through two of the speakers during their messages. They had no idea what I was wrestling with & I had told no one about what God was stirring in my heart. It became so clear that I was to return to the United Church, to the one I left in my community. It was very difficult for me as I knew the theology was worse since I had been there.
I did return & have been there for 14 years. God has looked after me, Bible Studies have been going on & some people have realized they have been missing hearing the Gospel & were eager to do more studies.
I realize more & more as each one of us takes time every day to spend time with God worshipping Him & studying His Word that no matter what church we are attending, God will teach us & show us what He wants us to do.
I am so glad to hear about Cruxifusion . It gives me & many like me great hope. I pray that it’s numbers will increase & I especially pray God’s love &light & Truth will shine so brightly that many will want to know how they can have what they see in the Cruxifusion Movement.
May God bless you,