Sunday, January 16, 2011

Father Matthew Johnson

Father Matthew Johnson is the street outreach minister at St. James Anglican Church.  He's a handsome personable chap who I've talked to often "on the street".  He helps the homeless and looks out for the really struggling in the vicinity of St. James Anglican which is at 303 East Cordova Street, Vancouver, BC V6A 1L4.
It's not an enviable job. Not very much of what might be called 'sitting room Christianity' in his work.  He's surprisingly uptempo despite the sordid and often harsh surroundings he must minister in.
Today I heard him give a sermon for the first time.  He was terrific. It was an amazing sermon on Ecumenicalism. In brief sentences he sumarized the major thrusts of the different Christian ministries. He described the liberal churches interfacing with society and focusing on things like poverty and civil rights. He saw the evangelical churches as concerned primarily with one's relationship with Jesus. The orthodox were equally concerned with the mystical while traditional Catholicism emphasized authority and truth.  He saw the Anglican church as trying to balance these various priorities. He also spoke of the World Congress of Religions.
He spoke to the need to understand that there were differences in a family but that a family was nonetheless a family. I'm really not doing his sermon justice. It was extraordinarily profound and yet simple.  I was moved.  I felt more a part of a greater human whole connected more closely together with God.
After that there was more incense, the choir outdid itself, we said the Lord's Prayer and everyone went to the front to receive communion before returning to our seats to kneel and pray.  Then we were all ushering out of the church to begin another week of everyday life.
I felt uplifted. No small thanks to Father Mathew Johnson.  I think it's good they let him come inside.

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