Week of December 25, 2000
Local churches made Great Jubilee a special year
By CATHY HARVEY
Special to the WCR
It won't be said that the Christian community let the anniversary of Jesus Christ 2000 come and go.
We seized the year, we took the opportunity to work together as Christians and as a faith community to acknowledge with thanksgiving and hope the great gift of God to the world in Jesus Christ.
It wasn't the Hollywood or the Olympics style of celebrating with grandiosity and flair (and great expense), here today and gone tomorrow, all show and not much to show for it.
The Great Jubilee year 2000 celebrations were simply small and large gatherings of Christians seeking to affirm, renew and uphold their faith in Christ, through a variety of events and celebrations that reflected Gospel values.
The action of participating in the international debt relief campaign, which has become the largest world petition collecting more than 23 million signatures, brought our local efforts into solidarity with our global family by expressing our united cry for relief of unjust burdens and slavery caused by human greed and power.
Central to our faith is prayer and the jubilee year was full of opportunities for personal and communal prayer.
For the first time, the First Night Festival welcomed the Christian community's participation in a significant way. Two venues with programs from a Christian and interfaith perspective, followed by a candlelight procession and a prayer during the finale, had 17,000 people, if not prayerfully, then thoughtfully bringing in the new millennium.
The city-wide prayer service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity led by our Church leaders had its largest-ever attendance - 1,200 people from the mainline and Orthodox churches gathered in prayer.
The evangelical and Pentecostal churches invited Christians to two large gatherings at the Shaw Convention Centre where prayer for the city and unity among Christians was held with thousands of people.
Many small communities, congregations and parishes organized missions, retreats and special services to celebrate and mark the jubilee in a special way.
For our education and reflection, various lectures on the jubilee themes were held throughout the Edmonton area, along with the Provincial Museum exhibit of Jesus Through the Centuries, all boldly proclaiming the significant presence of Jesus in our lives and in our world.
Our archdiocesan Assembly 2000 was our own family gathering, which offered an impressive and inspiring range of talks and sessions demonstrating the tremendous gifts and resources we have and our desire to share them.
The J2K Festival at Pentecost brought the mainline and evangelical Church together to host a celebration of Jesus Christ 2000 in a seven-hour festival of music, drama, dance and other activities.
More than 70 Christian churches worked together, with 250 volunteers and 30 performances. This visible witness and sign of unity of the Church in the Edmonton area was a tremendous source of encouragement as we celebrated with joy and thanksgiving.
We have been encouraged in every way during this jubilee year to respond to the invitation to conversion and renewal in our faith, to take the giant leap from being people of good words to people of good actions.
We have new models of what and how we can build up the faith community. We have renewed our conviction of how good it is when we make the effort to work and join together, uniting our voices and our actions in a common witness of faith in Jesus Christ.
The jubilee year will hopefully have inspired us to be a little less timid and a little less hesitant about being Christians in a post-Christian society.
God is with us, yesterday, today, forever. May we encourage each other to live what we believe.