Peter Fitch begins a series on 1 John, a New Testament letter that he thinks has wise principles of healthy spirituality. As he examines the beginning verses, it gives the opportunity to talk about mistakes in Christian history that still affect us today. He also focuses on Howard Thurman’s question about what does the Christian Gospel have to say to people whose backs are “against the wall.”
Today we had our second parking lot service. It was Father’s Day and National Indigenous People’s Day and it was the day after Don Olmstead passed away. Each of these things brought meaning but the loss of Don felt like we were all under a great weight. Peter spoke from the heart about him and about the last passage of James that he had just recorded from his video series. The music, maybe especially after the talk, became so deep as we were all caught in our own thoughts.
In this final installment, Peter speaks a little longer than in most of the videos. He discusses the origin of some of the words that are used in this passage and then he addresses some key concepts. Most importantly, he gives four possible ways to think about James’ teaching that people will get better if church leaders pray for them. Peter thinks there is a ditch on either side of this issue that ought to be avoided, but that there are two rich possibilities between them. One focuses on the psychological benefits of community, and the other explores the notion that spiritual power flows through the new community when many individual parts work together.
Today we had a short parking lot service at the back of our church building. It was our first face-to-face service since March 15th. We videoed the entire time so that people could listen to the music as well as the talk given by Peter Fitch. He spoke about the strange situation that we have encountered with the pandemic and then the great social unrest in the United States. Living through these times allows us to have a greater understanding of some of the Scriptures that were written while people were in exile. We feel both the longing for the “old normal” and the dream for an even better world than we have seen up to this time. Near the end there is a beautiful poem written and shared by Marissa Wiebe. Music before and after the talk is by Lindsay McKay and Jacob Rose. (the audio podcast begins at the talk)
Peter Fitch gives the 10th of his short video commentaries on the letter called James. Today’s passage begins with a word of warning for “the rich people.” Peter believes that these are not just people with greater wealth than their neighbours; rather, they represent a posture toward life that allows them to take advantage of others. After this, there is encouragement for the members of the new community of Jesus followers to persevere; God will take care of them in the end, either in this life or the next.
Peter Fitch speaks about James 4:11-17. This passage includes two paragraphs, one that is about speech and one that is about our attitude toward the future. Peter feels that both are really about the essential quality of humility. He thinks that this message is relevant as people respond to racial violence with multitudes of social media posts. How we say something may affect the capacity of people to hear it in a life-changing way.