There is no doubt that this has been a difficult year for everyone. Because of the pandemic, many of our landmark occasions have been moved online or postponed indefinitely. Graduations, weddings, and funerals are examples of times we would ordinarily gather together face to face to celebrate, congratulate and mourn with those we love. All that has changed for now - but God is still listening.
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What is Prayer, and what does it look like at The Olive Branch?
The simple answer is that Prayer is the conversation that keeps us connected with God. Without prayer, there is no connection, and much the same as when communication breaks down between individuals resulting in a distant or estranged relationship, our lack of prayer renders us far from the close relationship that we should be enjoying with God.
We believe that Prayer is the essential ingredient in each and every person's relationship with God. It keeps us in close communication so that we might see and hear His direction for our lives. It is our desire that everyone experiences the close relationship with God that He designed us to have. Being in prayer means we actively seek God's presence, His will, and His direction. It means that we are open to His leading, and are willing to lay down our agendas in favour of His. It means that we bring before Him our praises for who He is, our thankfulness for what He has done, our confessions for our sins and our petitions for what we need His Help with.
Prayer is not about getting God to come alongside our plans, but rather to ask God how we can be used in His plans. We acknowledge the Lordship of Christ and pray that we would be His hands and feet as He accomplishes His purposes in the community in which we serve.
Further to that we believe, that Corporate Prayer (that is when the body of Christ meets together to pray) draws us uniquely together in His presence. The Word promises us that "where two or more are gathered, there I (JESUS) will be in the midst of you". With Jesus at the center, there is little room for anything other than love for one another - and we aim to be known for our love.
It is an understatement to say that the recent reports that First Nations children have been discovered buried at former Residential Schools is both tragic and shameful. Residential schools of this type started in 1831 and were in operation until the last school closed it's doors in 1996. During this time, Indigenous parents were deceived about what the Residential Schools could 'offer' their children. They were then forced to turn them over to a government mandated, church-run system that did not value their culture or their children. What took place in the Canadian Residential Schools is now commonly referred to as 'cultural genocide.'
We are ashamed to hear and really understand that the 'church' was a partner with government in the mistreatment of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. Over decades, this body of believers claimed to follow, love and worship the One who said, specifically, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Mark 10:14
The companion warning of Jesus was that the judgment on those who perpetrate injustice to children and harm their souls will be severe. We have to leave that in His hands. However, in light of the facts, these are our calls to action as followers of Jesus and part of The Olive Branch:
1) To acknowledge the hurt the church community has caused and change the way we think and act as the body of Jesus Christ.
2) To personally examine our hearts and turn away from any traces of racism, prejudice or contempt for any group of people, whether it’s based on ethnicity, social status or lifestyle.
3) To be aware that prejudice is all around us and look for opportunities to actually live out the love, kindness, goodness and compassion of Jesus. This may mean voicing your concern or calling out forms of discrimination you see or hear in your daily life.
4) We, as a country and as Canadians need to accept responsibility for what has been done and support the goals of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. You may know very little about this part of Canada's history, but we encourage you to gain an understanding by visiting their website. Read more at the button below.
5) Pray for the families and communities impacted by this tragedy. Pray for the healing of the individuals who experienced trauma at the hands of the government and the church. Pray for the healing of generational trauma and for reconciliation between government, those who have ever settled in Canada, and all First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.
The Olive Branch Community Church