This will be my last weekly update of the year – so Merry Christmas!
Check below for all the seasonal concerts and events still to come. Among the other highlights:
- A Carol Sing-Along with Michael Hart – at my church (New Life Community Church in Burnaby) this Friday (December 15).
- Christmas Tales, featuring storyteller Justyn Rees and singer/songwriter Russ Rosen. Four more local shows, in New Westminster, Langley and Richmond.
- Carols for the Climate will be an evening of carol singing and fundraising for First Nations as they resist the Kinder Morgan pipeline in court.
My next weekly update will be in early January.
Mark Clark in CT
Mark Clark is the founding pastor of Village Church, which now has nine services meeting at three locations in Surrey and Langley. The church began in 2008 and now has several thousand attending each Sunday.
Following is the beginning of his testimony from Christianity Today.
I was raised in a staunchly atheist household. We never went to church. We never had a Bible. We never talked about God. My father was such an ardent atheist that he demanded my mother spell my brother’s name, Mathew, with only one t to avoid any biblical resemblance. My father then named me Mark. Clearly he didn’t see the irony.
I heard about Christianity for the first time at a summer camp when I was nine years old. I was fascinated by the concept of God. Not enough to get me to attend church or read a Bible or whatever else “religious” people did but enough that I found myself going back to the camp every year, talking about God again, and then coming home to a very different life. You could sum up that life as follows: Stealing from cars, stores, the purses of my friends’ mothers – from anywhere we could, really – to get money for drugs, partying and everything else you do when you don’t have God in your life. . . .
Go here for the rest of his testimony.
Clark is the author of The Problem of God: Answering a Skeptic’s Challenges to Christianity (Zondervan, 2017).Go here for a description of the book and a video featuring him and his book.
Ray Aldred: VST’s Indigenous Studies
Vancouver Sun writer Douglas Todd recently wrote about the Indigenous Studies program at the Vancouver School of Theology (VST):
In the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, Canadians increasingly view Christianity as the enemy of Indigenous people.
The “truth,” as conveyed mostly through the mass media, has shone a harsh light on the federally funded, church-run residential schools for Indigenous youth, almost all of which closed by the 1970s.
The “reconciliation” part of the TRC process has received far less attention. But inter-spiritual reconciliation has been going on through a variety of Canadian church denominations for decades, including for 32 years at the Vancouver School of Theology on the University of B.C. campus. . . .
More than 50 graduates from VST’s Indigenous Studies program have gone to take leadership roles in aboriginal communities across Canada and beyond, says program director Ray Aldred, who is Cree.
Go here for the full story, including a statement from Aldred about the significance of a recent $400,000 grant from the Luce Foundation.
Books this year
There have been some excellent books published this year, all worthy Christmas gifts. Here are some – most of which I have mentioned earlier – with brief portions of those posts:
Trudy Taylor Smith: God in Disguise
Born and raised in Texas, Trudy Smith now lives in Vancouver after having spent time in various communities in the United States, Argentina, Thailand, China, India and Canada.
Trudy and her husband Andy lived and worked for two and a half years in an Indian slums with Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor, an international network of Christian communities in the slums of Asia and the West. (There is a Servants community in Vancouver.)
The heart of God in Disguise describes their experiences in a marginalized Muslim community. The book tells the story of how she has moved from the certainty of her Southern Baptist roots through experiences which threatened to destroy her faith to her life in Vancouver:
Though I have been stripped and pruned of my certainty and plans, I am growing back like a spring vine. Though I bear the mark of the suffering I have witnessed, I also bear signs of new life.
Retired Regent College professor Charles Ringma said of the God in Disguise:
<pstyle=”padding-left: 30px;”>Beautifully written, the reader is drawn into the inner lives and outer world of Trudy and her husband Andy as they seek to serve Christ in an Indian slum. This is a story of faithfulness in the face of seeming failure. No young idealistic Westerner who is planning overseas service can do without this book.
Trudy now works with asylum seekers who are navigating the refugee claims process in Canada.
Martina Scholtens, MD: Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist
Martina Scholtens, now a clinical instructor with the Faculty of Medicine at UBC, has done a remarkable job of describing her 10 years as a doctor at Bridge Refugee Clinic:
Probably the greatest strength of the book is that Scholtens gives personal insights into the lives of her patients, who come from all over the world. For example, the story of an Iraqi family – Yusef and Junnah Haddad and their children – is woven throughout the book, from their first visit to their discharge some 18 months later. (Their identities are changed, and their situations involve composites of several people, so as to protect confidentiality.)
Her day-to-day experience at the clinic was far from what she had trained for at medical school – disease, diagnosis, treatment, referrals. She discovered that her work was often more psycho-social than strictly medical, and found herself, at various times, in the role of a counsellor, an advocate, a spiritual advisor, a nutritionist and a friend.
“Some days every patient cried,” she writes. “The box of tissues on my counter got as much play as my stethoscope.”
Go here for the rest of the review.
Iain Provan: The Reformation and the Right Reading of Scripture
Regent College professor Iain Provan feels the Bible is not being taken seriously enough in most churches. He said in a Regent video:
One has to wonder now, 500 years since that fateful day in 1517, if Martin Luther would not feel we have lost the greatest resource, both for the Reformation and for the life of the church.
Though we often seem to envisage Luther with hammer and nails, it was in fact the Bible that he saw as the greatest tool, the most indispensable resource in both living the Christian life and then restoring the church. But how are we to read the Bible in a way that leads to this kind of restoration. It’s that question that led me to the writing of my book . . .
Dennis Venema & Scot McKnight: Adam and the Genome
Trinity Western University professor Dennis Venema and popular New Testament scholar Scot McKnight addressed large crowds at Regent College and a Langley church as they spoke about their new book, subtitled ‘Reading Scripture After Genetic Science.’
Some of the questions they explore in the book include:
* Is there credible evidence for evolution?
* Do we descend from a population or are we the offspring of Adam and Eve?
* Does taking the Bible seriously mean rejecting recent genomic science?
* How do Genesis’s creation stories reflect their ancient Near Eastern context, and how did Judaism understand the Adam and Eve of Genesis?
* Doesn’t Paul’s use of Adam in the New Testament prove that Adam was a historical individual?
Go here to read the Introduction to the book.
Matt Balcarras & Katie Gorrie: Hidden & Hard Work
Hidden & Hard Work tells ‘stories of peacemaking in BC’s Lower Mainland,’ allowing eight local peacemakers several pages to tell something of their lives. The book is particularly welcome as we come to the end of this uniquely rancorous year in politics.
Editors Matt Balcarras and Katie Gorrie have chosen their subjects well. Balcarras is “a scientist and writer who lives in the traditional territory of the Musqueam and Tsawwassen with his wife and three children.” Gorrie is a poet, mother and editor in Montreal.
Equally important to the project are Lee Kosa, who did a tremendous job designing the book (and happens to be Balcarras’s pastor at Cedar Park Church in Delta) and Rachel Pick, who took all the pictures, which are impressive.
Go here for the full review.
For decades, Loren Wilkinson has been well known as a writer, teacher and pioneer of the Christian environmentalism movement. Loren’s poetry, until now, has been less known. In Imago Mundi, his first published collection, Loren looks deeply into the geography of southwestern BC, drawing wisdom from tides, beaches, seals and farm equipment.
Following are comments of appreciation for Loren’s Wilkinson’s Imago Mundi from Eugene Peterson, Luci Shaw and James Houston:
Loren Wilkinson is best known among most of us for his passionate, life-long care for the earth – the literal earth. The soil-and-flower, river-and-tree earth. But not nearly as many are aware that he wrote poems equally as skilled in revealing his care for language – the sounds and rhythms and metaphors that keep us alert to the Word made flesh. Eugene H. Peterson
Loren Wilkinson is one of those native souls to whom the tag ‘natural poet’ adheres like pollen to a bee’s knees. His personal presence and his way of living are models of enthusiasm for the creation and its Creator. He names things in order to bring them to our attention. Luci Shaw
Loren Wilkinson is a poet who celebrates his faith as well as the simple things of creation in peasant ways, ever mindful that Christ is sacramentally there as Lord of all Creation. Daily events, then, are always Epiphany. James M. Houston
Go here for the full article.
Georgialee Lang: Faith, Life & Leadership
Vancouver lawyer and arbitrator Georgialee Lang has edited a book which “brings together eight female Christian leaders from across Canada who share their challenges, setbacks, failures and successes.”
Lang is featured – a trial and appellate lawyer for 28 years and a Canadian leader in the family law bar – in Faith, Life and Leadership, along with Carolyn Arends, award-winning singer, songwriter and author from Surrey; Deb Grey, from Qualicum Beach, former Member of Parliament and Order of Canada recipient; and five others from across the nation.
Go here for an excerpt from the book.
Gordon T. Smith: Evangelical, Sacramental & Pentecostal
Evangelical. Sacramental. Pentecostal.
Christian communities tend to identify with one of these labels over the other two. Evangelical churches emphasize the importance of Scripture and preaching. Sacramental churches emphasize the importance of the eucharistic table. And pentecostal churches emphasize the immediate presence and power of the Holy Spirit. But must we choose between them? Could the church be all three?
Drawing on his reading of the New Testament, the witness of Christian history, and years of experience in Christian ministry and leadership, Gordon T. Smith – who is president of Ambrose University and Seminary in Calgary and a teaching fellow at Regent College – argues that the church not only can be all three, but in fact must be all three in order to truly be the church.
Barry Morris: Hopeful Realism in Urban Ministry
Pastor Tim Dickau of Grandview Calvary Baptist Church wrote this of Hopeful Realism in Urban Ministry:
Urban ministry, especially when it is going ‘well,’ can often be exhilarating and exciting. Sticking with urban ministry through congregational, neighbourhood and cultural transition, when the church is struggling for survival, is often painstaking and tedious.
With thankful exceptions, most books on urban ministry seem to be written by those for whom things are going ‘well,’ for folks who seem to be a cut above other practitioners in their entrepreneurial and charismatic leadership. Most of those books leave the rest of us in urban ministry feeling less of ourselves and our churches.
This book is different. This book is written by a man who has persisted in a three-decade long obedience while being honest about his own struggles. . . .
Go here to read the rest of the Foreword.
Marja Bergen: Hope for Our Highs and Lows, Highs and Lows for Our Inner Child, Highs and Lows in God’s World
Having struggled herself with bipolar disorder for most of her life, Burnaby author Marja Bergen is committed to telling her fellow sufferers of the healing she has found in Jesus Christ.
Over the past 20 years, she has written two books and a devotional gift book, launched a small group ministry and emailed a weekly devotional to about 300 subscribers. All offer hope and encouragement to people with mental health issues.
Bergen’s latest project is a set of three more self-published devotional gift books that draw upon the emails she’s been sending out over the past four-and-a-years
Go here for a fuller write-up.
Bill C-51 passed
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada tweeted this December 12:
Thank you for your prayers! House of Commons agreed to keep Criminal Code protection for religious officials/worship. Bill
#C51 passed yesterday & has gone to Senate. Please consider writing your MP to thank them for hearing concerns of religious Canadians https://buff.ly/2nUBZzs
Dec 2017Almost, Maine by John Cariani – December 14, 2017 - December 16, 2017 at 12:00 am
Christmas at the Starlight Theatre – December 14, 2017 - December 18, 2017 at All Day
Cold Clear Sky: An Anthology of Woodcuts by Dan Law – December 14, 2017 - December 21, 2017 at All Day
The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe – December 14, 2017 - December 31, 2017 at All Day
Timberline Country Christmas – December 14, 2017 - December 20, 2017 at All Day
Winter Harp – December 14, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Christmas with Chor Leoni – December 15, 2017 at All Day
Journey of Christmas – December 15, 2017 - December 24, 2017 at All Day
Loft Country Christmas (four evenings) – December 15, 2017 - December 16, 2017 at 5:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Carol Sing-Along with Michael Hart – December 15, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Singing Christmas Tree – December 15, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
The Christmas Toy Factory – December 15, 2017 - December 16, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Good Tidings! A Good Noise Gospel Christmas – December 15, 2017 - December 16, 2017 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Bez Christmas Craft Market – December 16, 2017 at 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Christmas with Chor Leoni – December 16, 2017 at 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Amabilis Singers: A Christmas Gift – December 16, 2017 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Out of the Cold presents: Christmas Market & Dessert Theatre – December 16, 2017 at 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Singing Christmas Tree – December 16, 2017 - December 17, 2017 at 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
North Shore Community Christmas Dinner – December 16, 2017 at 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Christmas Dinner Theatre: A Tree Lot Christmas – December 16, 2017 at 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Carols for the Climate – December 16, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Don Moen: Christmas - A Season of Hope, with Lenny LeBlanc – December 16, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Frontline Voices: A Season of Hope – December 16, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Singing Christmas Tree – December 16, 2017 - December 17, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
I Can See the Star, with the Marcus Mosely Chorale – December 16, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:45 pm
Winter Harp – December 16, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Vancouver Chamber Choir: A Baroque Christmas – Bach and More – December 16, 2017 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Laudate Singers: Free Family Christmas Concert – December 17, 2017 at 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols – December 17, 2017 at 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Out of the Cold presents: Christmas Market & Dessert Theatre – December 17, 2017 at 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm
The Gallery Singers: Angels from Heaven Came – December 17, 2017 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Winter Harp – December 17, 2017 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Laudate Singers: Free Family Christmas Concert – December 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Christmas Tales – December 17, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Winter Harp – December 17, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Christmas with Chor Leoni – December 18, 2017 at All Day
Christmas Presence – December 19, 2017 - December 23, 2017 at All Day
Christmas Tales – December 19, 2017 - December 21, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
13th annual Vigil With the Silenced: A Just Advent – December 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Christmas Tales – December 22, 2017 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Vancouver Cantata Singers: Christmas Reprise – December 23, 2017 at 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Early Music Vancouver: Festive Cantatas – December 23, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Light of the Night – December 24, 2017 at 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Celebrate New Year's Eve 2018 with Worship Invasion – December 31, 2017 - January 1, 2018 at 9:30 pm - 12:30 am
Jan 2018Dr. David Clough: Eating Peaceably – Christianity and Veganism – January 9, 2018 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Jazz Evensong: Karen Graves & Miles Black – January 10, 2018 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Jesuit Scotch Tasting Reception – January 11, 2018 at 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Jazz Vespers: Karen Graves & Mimosa – January 14, 2018 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
JMP Webinar: Continuing the Conversation - Leading Beyond the Billboard – January 17, 2018 at 8:00 am - 9:00 am
The Garden of Unearthly Delights by Hfour Studio: Opening Reception – January 17, 2018 at 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Jazz Evensong: Dan Reynolds & Friends – January 17, 2018 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Calvary Worship Centre Women's Conference – January 18, 2018 - January 20, 2018 at All Day
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – January 18, 2018 - January 25, 2018 at All Day
Women in the Word Workshop – January 18, 2018 - January 20, 2018 at All Day
ReFrame Vancouver: Cultivating 24/7 Christians – January 18, 2018 at 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Service – January 18, 2018 at 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Missions Fest: Pre-Conference Rally – January 18, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Service – January 18, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
CYW Vancouver – January 19, 2018 - January 20, 2018 at All Day
Norm Strauss – January 19, 2018 at 12:00 am
Norm Strauss – January 19, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Emerging Adulthood Mini-Conference – January 20, 2018 at 8:30 am - 3:00 pm
Kelita's CD Release & 70s Music & Comedy Concert – January 20, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Learning for Lent – January 22, 2018 at 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Silence*Stillness*Movement*Sound: Doing Anthropology of Contemplative Christianity with the Whole Self – January 24, 2018 at 12:00 am
St. Francis Xavier Relic Pilgrimage – January 24, 2018 at 1:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Service – January 24, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Service – January 24, 2018 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Jazz Evensong: Gabriel Mark Hasselbach & Friends – January 24, 2018 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Canada Summer Jobs Webinar – January 25, 2018 at 9:00 am - 9:45 am
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Service – January 25, 2018 at 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
St. Francis Xavier Relic Pilgrimage – January 25, 2018 at 12:30 pm - 11:00 pm
Missions Fest 2018: What is the Gospel? – January 26, 2018 - January 28, 2018 at All Day
Three Second Peaks: Paintings by Neil Peter Dyck Gallery Exhibit Opening Reception – January 26, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Cathedral Organist Denis Bédard – January 26, 2018 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
CEO Global UBC Kick-Off – January 27, 2018 at 11:30 am - 2:30 pm
Jazz Vespers with Company B Jazz Band – January 28, 2018 at 4:00 pm - 5:15 pm
Jazz Vespers: Glenda Rae, Brett Wade, Miles Black – January 28, 2018 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Why Not Canada? – January 29, 2018 at 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Gender Matters – January 29, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
FoodSafe (Level 1) for Food Program Participants & Volunteers – January 30, 2018 at 8:45 am - 3:30 pm
Why Not Canada? – January 30, 2018 at 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Dr. William Newsome: Neuroscience and Consciousness – January 30, 2018 at 1:10 pm - 2:25 pm
Dr. William Newsome: Of Two Minds - A Neuroscientist Balances Science and Faith – January 30, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
An Evening with Stella's Voice – January 30, 2018 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Dr. Janet Soskice: The Incredible Lady Bible Hunters – Sisters of Sinai – January 31, 2018 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Dr. William Newsome: Of Two Minds - A Neuroscientist Balances Science and Faith – January 31, 2018 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Creative Writing with Matthew Dickerson – January 31, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Jazz Evensong: Jennifer Hayes & Friends – January 31, 2018 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm