Stand up and be counted

There’s been a lot of to-do in the media this last while about the census. Long form, short form, mandatory, voluntary. Censuses have been around since Jesus’ time. The Emperor Augustus decided that “all the world should be taxed”, and Jesus was born in Bethlehem because his parents went to be counted, so that they could be taxed. Our census has nothing to do with taxes, in fact all of the information on it is completely confidential.

As Christians, we can stand up and be counted, because we have nothing to fear from our government. We can check the Catholic or Protestant box and not worry that there will be secret police knocking on our door the night after we hand in our forms. This is not the case in many countries.

In September, Phil and Julie Bender will be visiting us and speaking of their work with Mennonite Church Canada’s Witness program in China. China is a country where church and state have a different relationship than in our country. I’ve been reading about the history of Christian mission in China, it’s a fascinating story, filled with courageous stories as inspiring as the book of Acts.

How would our worship change if it was illegal to be a church in Canada? Where would we meet? Who would risk having our worship service in their home? How would it affect our faith if people from our congregation were in prison, being tortured for their faith in Jesus Christ? This may not be happening in our community, but we live in a world where our brothers and sisters in Christ do suffer like this. Do we want to hear their stories?

This week’s prayer: God, in our free country it’s easy to become complacent about our faith. We pray for our sister churches around the world who suffer persecution…give them strength and courage. Open our ears to hear their stories.

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