People Praying with their Eyes Closed

The Emergence of the Community of Christ

Sermon delivered on 16 April 2023, Second Sunday of Easter, at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, White Rock, British Columbia. Based on John 20.

When we reflect on the 2,000-year history of the Christian church, a key question often comes to mind: How and why did Christianity become the dominant world religion in the early centuries?

The first-century religious leaders in Jerusalem had looked with disdain at that pesky little group of Jesus-followers who wouldn’t fade away even after their leader, Jesus of Nazareth, was executed on a Roman cross. Then in the years that followed, people began to want to be part of the Jesus community, even if it meant going through membership classes that took years to complete. People wanted to join, even if it meant harassment from the establishment, even martyrdom. The Christian faith in the early centuries expanded relentlessly, even to the point of the conversion of a fourth-century Roman emperor, Constantine.

In contrast, today we are confronted with the so-called decline of the church. Statistics Canada reported that Christian affiliation went from 77% in 2001 to 50% in 2022, a net drop of 5 million.

Let’s go back to when the church began. Let us review once again John’s account of the resurrection, that which you have already heard last Sunday from the Rev. Fr. Krawchuk. May we never tire of this truth upon which the church stands, that Christ is risen.

Mary Magdalene discovered that the tomb of Jesus had been opened. She didn’t linger. I imagine it was in panic that she ran to Peter and the other disciple and told them “They took the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

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