Hallalujah Haliburton: Sizzling Summer Service 4

Head Lake Park simmered and shimmered on a recent Sunday as hundreds of people from Highlands’ area churches sizzled under the hot August sun singing songs of son-shine, listening to messages of hope and grace, and afterwards, witnessing a joy-filled baptismal service in the river.

Harry Morgan, pastor of the area United Churches, opened with prayer. He also joined in with the talented music group, led by Karen Frybort. The team of singers and musicians from several local churches confessed to having only practised together once beforehand, but had 5 weeks of prayer backing them up.

Bev Hicks, leader of the Northland Faith congregation, gathered the children together for a story on character- and life-formation. He held up a boring block of wood, then compared it to a carving of a polar bear, created years ago by his father.

“This polar bear once looked just like this block of wood!” he explained. After describing the transformation, he had the young people turn to face the crowd behind them and proclaim:

"Give God something to work with!"

Bert Zavitz, former pastor of West Guilford Baptist Church, brilliantly illustrated the biblical idea of “making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). Bert had been asked to bring a tossed salad for a Kawartha Lakes Youth Unlimited staff meeting.

“What goes into a tossed salad and who do I get to toss it at?” he first wondered. But as he got down to the business of creating, he began to see how the ingredients could be compared to our unity-in-diversity in the body of Christ, the church. Each ingredient represents a different church in our community and individual Christians within our churches.

First there’s lettuce: without water, it wilts. And who of course is the water of life who keeps us from wilting? Tomatoes “are meals unto themselves, churches that have everything and do not need anyone else. But boy, they add a lot to the salad when they join!” he added.

Peppers: more colour, crunch, and that needed extra spiciness of the Holy Spirit’s fire. Onions add flavor but also bring tears to our eyes, like “those churches where there is a lot of weeping, even when a joke is told”. Oh and carrots: great colour, more crunch, plus improve our vision. They’re the “churches and individuals who have had vision for our community for things like Youth Unlimited, Church of the Rock, and the Jericho Centre.”

What or who might the croutons represent, he wondered. Perhaps "those dried-up squares in every church, the traditional types still wearing suits and ties?” For those who like to add bacon bits, what might they represent? How about “the churches and individuals who are what Jesus called us to be, salt and light in the world?”

Finally, what every salad need to bind it all together: salad dressing. “The Holy Spirit is like that salad dressing, binding the whole salad of the Kingdom of God together,” Bert surmised.. Over and over the bible speaks of oil: the oil of joy, anointing with oil, the oil of peace. “The oil of the spirit works like oil poured on troubled waters to bring peace and unity.”

Bert is a violinist, and the ‘mother of all violins’ is of course, the Stradivarius. A Stradivarius can’t be hung on the wall as a museum piece; it must be played every day, he explained. Just as with the special gifts God has given each one of us. They’re not to be 'hung up'. Not used properly they can even become instruments of war. They are not toys to play with, but instruments to play, tools to build with.

He further illustrated his point (and the main thrust of Paul’s message to the Ephesians on unity) by referring to a quote from A.W. Tozer:
Has it ever occurred to you that 100 pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are … tuned to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So 100 worshippers together, each looking to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become 'unity' conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”
After Pastor Anne Moore's prayerful close to the service, Harry Morgan officiated at the post-service baptism of Freyja MacDonald, who attends his church. While full immersion isn’t the United Church’s normal protocol, it is how Jesus did it and how Freyja wanted it as well.