Cement crucifix on the outside of a tall brick churchIn thinking about the topic for this article, I was going to go all down the road on Emergent/postmodern theology, but decided rather to simply reflect on what Kanisa Fellowship means to me. In a nutshell, Kanisa challenges us to think in a Biblically-based, people- and Christ-centred way. That’s the essence of contemporary worship, and I think that’s what Jesus was about during a ministry that lead, inexorably, to the cross.

A great example is in Matthew 12:1-14. One of the highlights of this text is the third word, “time”! “At that time” looks like a throw-away beginning to a story, “Once upon a time…” but it isn’t, not at all. The standard word for “time” in the NT is kronos (kronos) but Matthew used kairo (kairo). Why? Kairo means “a particular time, a window of opportunity.” What as this “window of opportunity”? The disciples were hungry, the Pharisees were watching, and it was the Sabbath…far from coincidence, Jesus seized this opportunity to create a conversation with the Pharisees that challenged the way they did things. Part of that conversation was to reconsider how they/we interpret the Scripture (in this case, 1 Samuel 21:1-6).

And then, after the cornfield incident and all the crazy things he said (“I am Lord of the Sabbath”; “There is one greater than the temple”) he walked straight into “their” (not “the”!) synagogue, and made another demonstration in healing a fellow with a withered hand. The Pharisees must’ve thought Jesus was out of his mind; they called a board meeting to discuss how to get rid of him. Seems they weren’t too happy about being challenged to think – and I think it’s a bad thing to follow in their footsteps. Or, in other words, I think it’s a good thing to follow in Christ’s footsteps, which requires thinking…and then acting accordingly.

The standards that the Pharisees held were traditional, were disciplined, but were evidently not very interested in human beings. Jesus created opportunities to show that people trumped traditions – like a paper-book quarterly or use of the hymnal.

I can think of many anecdotes that aptly illustrate this. I’ll just briefly mention one of them. At my old church, a sister sat down in a Sabbath school class while the teacher was in the middle of the lesson. He said to her, “Sister, sit down quietly, you’re interrupting my lesson.” This contrasts sharply with something I was taught and have always embraced – “teachers do not teach lessons, teachers teach people. Lessons can’t learn.”

I’d adapt that to this topic – Christ did not die for tradition, because tradition did not sin; He died for people.

What makes Kanisa Fellowship “Adventist”? Whether we use the hymnal? Or have a platform party or invoke a “call to worship”? Or are these things non-essential? I think we are suggesting that the core essence of Adventism is free of these and other such outward things. Well then, what else is there? Ah, there’s the challenge – let’s talk about it!