Carol and I have just spent an exhilarating three days in Toronto. Why so exhilarating? Well, we were helping Timothy Eaton Memorial Church celebrate 100 years of ministry. This is a cathedral church built on cathedral proportions with beauty expressed by architecture, stained glass and, especially, music. Though it was our first visit to the church it was so easy to identify with the stirring faith of this people through the last 100 years.
The preparations for special services on Sunday were made with exquisite care. In printed orders of worship, every word was considered. Not one was wasted. The Senior Minister, Andrew Stirling, preached in the morning with freedom and power to an immense packed congregation. He took the Jeremiah 18 theme of the potter and the clay. At one point he recounted the story of how successive generations over the past 100 years served God in specific ways in the face of wars, poverty, and other social needs. His refrain: "We are clay...God is the potter" kept the focus on God 's providence throughout the story. It was inspiring to be there. Truly.
In the evening I preached and developed the theme of gladness in Psalm 122. Again, the congregation was large with other churches in the area sharing, especially Yorkminster Church which contributed half of a massive choir. I spoke about two kinds of gladness. The obvious kind for our own sakes - an understandable reaction to a visible cause. I mentioned some of the people who would be glad that the centenary services had gone so well because plans had worked out etc! But another kind of gladness is not understood by the world. It is gladness FOR GOD'S SAKE - when people join together to give thanks to his name (Ps 122:4) for who He is and for what He has done. Its an unselfish gladness focussed entirely on God's worthship. It's worship! Of course, other things were said too...but we came away so thrilled to have been part of such a great event. And, several people said to me..."Yes, we are glad for our sakes...but we are glad because of God's grace and goodness." Oh Yes.