Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 17, 2003
Strathcona county faces Apocalypse
Collins leads ecumenical mission through last book of Bible
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
The thundering power and magnificent pageantry contained in the Book of the Apocalypse essentially portrays a single message, says Archbishop Thomas Collins.
As the speaker at Strathcona County's 14th annual ecumenical mission Nov. 9-12, Collins said to serve the Church is to serve God, and to serve God is to overcome the daily influences of evil in our lives.
The Apocalypse (or the Book of Revelation) is a message of consolation of the afflicted and a message of warning to those too comfortable in a secular environment - a materialistic world - in which there is no place for Christ, he said.
"As we look at the Apocalypse, we notice that the whole message is really in the first page. We could simply have ended the first night and all gone home," he quipped.
Glory to the Lamb was selected as the theme for the ecumenical event which brought together members of nine congregations in the county, representing Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and United churches.
The archbishop is well known for his lectures and writings on the last book in the Bible and more than 100 people attended his talks Nov. 11 at Ardrossan United and Bethel Lutheran churches.
"So often in the Sacred Scriptures, the themes repeat themselves, but always at a deeper and deeper level as we come to a more profound, central message which is 'Serve the Lamb, not the beast.'"
He said it was important to remember that not everyone in the Apocalypse - a world with the four horsemen of war, civil strife, famine and plague - was facing martyrdom in the sense of being killed.
For many, the danger was rather one of seduction.
"It is wonderful to die for Christ. But it is more important to live for Christ. Those who ultimately die for Christ prepare for it by living for Christ."
The archbishop used the example of the woman with child, and the dragon presented in chapter 12.
That battle, he said, portrayed against the stars suggests what we see in the mirror every day - if we look at our own lives, the battle in our own hearts to live faithful to the Lamb.
"In a deeper sense, you might say the woman clothed with the sun is Holy Mother Church, is the community which brings Christ forth into this world, and into a world of the four horsemen, where the forces of the dragon are pursuing Christ."
The dragon is flailing around and causing harm, but it is not in control of everything. "The flailing of the tail is the last of the battle. Jesus is Lord. It was not an equal battle (to determine) who will win. It's over, but it still has some residual effects. People are suffering and so do we, to this day.
"But that's the fundamental reality of the power - or lack of it - of Satan," he said.
"This is the battle of the Apocalypse. We are here still doing battle with the residual effects of evil. They are real. Although evil is not infinite, it is relative.
"But what is absolute is the victory of Christ," he said.
The Rev. Hugh MacGregor, pastor of Sherwood Park United Church and chair of the ecumenical mission committee, said the longevity of the ecumenical mission is a testament to the power of the Church.
"I think this year is the largest turnout I've seen in the six years I've been involved," he said. "It fluctuates, but this year has been really good. I think the guest speaker - having the archbishop from Edmonton - is a large reason for the good turnout."
The growing sense of community people from different congregations experience at the mission every year is a tool that can be used against temptation described in the archbishop's talk, MacGregor said.
"Revelation is something that catches people. I think we all struggle with it. Some of us shy away from that end of the Bible.
"But I think the fact that the ecumenical mission has gone on for so long has strengthened our community. Its longevity is really special," he said.
Marvin Trimble, chairperson of the board at Ardrossan United Church, says people spend too much time viewing how apart they are from one another.
Having people getting together gives them a chance to step back and see that they are all one with God.
"We spend so much time eyeing our differences every day. This gets us together to see our similarities and that's invaluable," he said.
"I believe the inter-faith connection is vital for aiding in the event of a tragedy in our community. We would be an army ready to help. It would be like having insurance. I mean, look at the families who lost their homes in the Kelowna fire. What if it happened in Sherwood Park? We'd have a network in place to help."
Janet Kwantes, a member of St. Thomas' Anglican Church, has attended the mission for four years.
She derives her strength from serving her family and her Church.
"Attending the missions has helped me to broaden my perspectives. I always enjoy learning," she said. "I enjoy the fellowship of the different denominations getting together. I have found that I run into people in the community who I recognize from the missions.
"The missions build a commonness as evidenced by the fact we are all here today," she said.