True gospel unity happens when we are forged by the central, indisputable, rock-solid convictions of Christianity that churches through the ages have believed and lived. When we lose our grasp of that beautiful centre, that unstoppable momentum, we tend to fight too fiercely about things far from the centre, or we wink when the core of gospel is compromised. But this unity will always only be partial in this life; now we see in part. Life within historic Christianity is a long, difficult schooling in what unity will finally be when get to Heaven.
We have so many differences on how to read the Bible! In the past 300 years the church thought it could achieve unity if it read the Bible like any other human document. This has proven to be a failure. Christians have always argued about differing interpretations, but the big and good message of the Bible has always served to bring the church together over time. The Bible read as the Word of God gives us life and guides the church faithfully. The Bible unifies us by shaping us to be like Jesus.
Today we are much tempted to despise the Church: so prone to error and divided by human failure. But, it is both our experience of the Church's failures and sins and our experience of the Church's flashes of wonderful unity that prepare us to be at home in Heaven. In this session we will glimpse behind the veil to see the church in its full glory. The Church suffering as battle-weary pilgrims, but also triumphant, communing with God and at rest. We will end this session with the Lord's Supper, a small taste of the Lamb's Feast that awaits the Church in the New Heaven.
Layton Friesen is our conference pastor. He was baptized in the Mennville EMC. He lives in south Winnipeg with his wife Glenda and their two young adult children. They love their community at the Fort Garry EMC. In his short life he has gone to church with Creole people in Belize, Old Colony Mennonites in Texas, Christian Missionary Alliance folks in Vancouver, and Baptists in Toronto. He recently spent five years reading and trying to understand Hans Urs von Balthasar, a Roman Catholic pastor. But something always brings him back to the EMC. When he grows up he dreams of being a rancher in Alberta, the caretaker of a lighthouse, and a drummer in a 70's rock band.