As we celebrate the unity of our nation on Canada Day, let us pray for a closer relationship between the many expressions of our Christian faith.
By Mark Braye, Captain
Originally called Dominion Day, Canada Day celebrates the July 1, 1867 enactment of the British North American Act, referred to as the Constitution Act, which united three British colonies into a single country, Canada, within the British Empire. The name of the day was changed to Canada Day in 1982, the year Canada gained independence from the United Kingdom.
The British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada united to create this great country of ours. It makes me think of Protestants, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians. We are united, to a degree, here on earth; one day we will be united in Heaven. We will put our differences and distinctives aside and bask in the glory of being united with our triune God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
We sing different songs. We define elements of the Bible differently. We think about theological issues differently. We view clergy, laity, worship, service, sacraments and spiritual disciplines differently. We do, however, have the most important things in common: a monotheistic faith expressed through a Trinitarian God; salvation is made available by Jesus Christ; the authority of the Bible; the importance of being in/of a community of faith.
There were no denominations on the Church’s birthday celebrated in Acts 2. In fact, Jesus may have seen disunity and division coming in the future when he prayed these words in John 17: My prayer is not for [my disciples] alone. I pray also for those (all believers) who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you (John 17:20-21).
To a certain extent, earthly traditions and denominations have an unhealthy view of themselves. We Salvationists are not innocent. We love to use the language of “being raised up” as if the Church was missing something or missing the point until 1865. Christ’s words, however, paint a picture of God’s people being one just as he and God are one. Christ’s words paint a picture of the Church being united across social, cultural, racial, economical, traditional and denominational lines. These are challenging words.
The great Christian writer and thinker C.S. Lewis said: “When all is said (and truly said) about the divisions of Christendom, there remains, by God’s mercy, an enormous amount of common ground.”
Let’s stand on the common ground. Happy Canada Day!
Captain Mark Braye and his wife, Nancy, are officers/pastors of The Salvation Army Tri-Town Community Church in Temiskaming Shores, Ont., Canada. They have two children, Hannah and Micah.