40) Jesus Doesn't Want Your Faith (Without Your Trust) | Philip Hamilton (Part 1)

"Have faith in Jesus!" What does that even mean? For many, having faith in Jesus has quietly become an inner prayer for delivery from personal discomfort or psychological anguish. This week, Mark comments how, recently reading stories of non-violent protest, he's realized that standing up to oppression is not what changes hearts; it's the suffering endured by non-violent protesters that moves the world to change. So if "faith in Jesus" means the desire to escape suffering, then we might be asking to be spared from the very thing that changes the world. If suffering changes hearts and whole systems of injustice, then our idea of "having faith in Jesus" needs to change. Because, quite possibly, Jesus doesn't want my faith without my conviction that Jesus' ethic of neighbour-and-enemy-love is trustworthy, too - even when it costs me everything. Can I trust Jesus' ethic? Do I?

Then Mark sits down with Philip Hamilton, graduate student at Wycliffe College and Anglican postulate/minister at Church On Tap at Christ Church Deer Park on Yonge Street. Coming from a long line of pastors in the family, Philip talks about both the merits and richness of tradition and what it's like to break from tradition when it's more constructive to do so. Bringing insights from ministering in both a Methodist and Anglican context, Phil discusses in Part 1 the vision that brought Church On Tap into being, the questions and needs of a new generation, and his thoughts on the historical holiness movement and why it's still helpful.

Join us for Part 2 next week when Philip talks about the challenges he's faced in the church and that compels him to keep following Jesus.

Recorded on location at Marche Brookfield Place.


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Notable Quotes from Philip Hamilton

"We started this pilot project [Church on Tap] in September of last year, and the idea was to start a kind of inventive, innovative liturgical community that's also rooted in the ancient tradition of the Anglican church. And so we do alternative liturgical things, we make some different musical choices with prayers and things to create a space that allows for a different kind of Anglican experience. And we couple that with really good locally brewed beer."

"It was my crazy idea… that it would be fun to do something kind of different – to meet a different demographic and different needs – liturgically, to create a conversation. And I just so happen to like beer.  And so I asked the wardens (that's like the board – the official people at the church) if they would buy us beer to have after church instead of coffee – bad coffee, you know? At first people were a little skeptical, but we got some pretty excited younger people on board. Originally I pitched this idea to my priest in charge and to a couple of the wardens of the church, and they greenlighted it pretty early actually. They thought it was a good idea at least to try. And so they wrote a budget line for me and we tried it."

"We get a lot of people who have come out of church traditions who no longer go to church, and people who grew up with some really oppressive theologies and communities that weren't overly welcoming; so for some people this is the first time they've been to church in years - maybe since they were children."

"Essentially… we've taken the ancient liturgy of the Eucharist which hasn't really changed a lot for Anglicans in a while, and we just kind of plug and played and as opposed to putting in a processional hymn, we put in kind of a meditative piece by Tracy Chapman or something, and allow that to get us in the headspace of where we're going."

"People who are really Anglican come and say, 'You guys didn't really do much.' And people who are from outside the church say, 'Oh my God this is so cool – it's so different!'"

"I think as Christian people we are part of his narrative that is the greatest narrative ever told. And so as Anglicans, we're just better actors – we play the part a little bit better; we've got better dresses and such. And so we set up a whole year so that every year you go through the whole story from birth to death to resurrection to the Pentecost, and we actively live out that experience in the way that we do our liturgy."

"I think [traditions] do enrich the experience in some ways, but I also do think that they can be barriers to accessibility – especially to people haven't been in a while. We're all about contextualizing the experience and really getting a feel for what the community needs, and what will be barriers and what will be helpful."

"I'm concerned on the one hand that we don't water things down so much that people come in and they don't really get a whole lot of anything, but on the other hand I also don't want people to walk in and get so hung up on all of this stuff, that we actually miss the core of what's going on, which is that a lot of people just don't know the basic stories and the basic teachings and message of Jesus. And I don't want that to get lost in my white 'dress.'"

"This is where I think that something like the Anglican or more liturgical traditions have something to offer in that in a year we get an overview of what I think is the most important narrative which is the narrative of Christ. And so everything is read through that lens – the Old Testament Scriptures are pointing towards it in ways that the lectionary has set up for us, and then the actual story – you can't miss it if you're there for the whole thing. And I would say the basics is Jesus."

"In the same way that traditions are always pushing back against something and you can really only understand the tradition as you understand the context it's sitting in, I think that's true of us personally - you can understand where I've come from because of the tradition I'm pushing back against; and I think we understand each other better theologically when we do that."

"So where I've come to now is that I would say part of what makes the Christian life the Christian life is that we are formed and we are steeped in this pedagogy of holiness that calls us not just to social justice to see the kingdom come but also to see the kingdom and the values of the kingdom become a reality in our own personal lives. And I think that it's through personal transformation and that assent to holiness or at least an attempt to give ourselves over to that that we can actually have effective ministry in the world."


Next Week's Episode 41

Philip Hamilton (Part 2) - Minister at Church on Tap (Anglican)