If you were in church yesterday morning, you saw a smudge ceremony accompany the baptism of Stephan and Kim Slomp’s baby Silas. Since this was the first time many of you experienced this ceremony, I thought I’d do a little bit more explaining this morning. Silas’ grandfather is Harold Roscher, a Christian pastor who works at the Edmonton Native Healing Centre. Since he is a full-blooded Cree, this makes Silas ¼ Cree as well. As such, the family requested a smudge in conjunction with the baptism. As Sharon and I have 2 First Nations foster daughters, we’ve become quite familiar with this ceremony over the years, as we have attended a variety of First Nations events. For those of you who don’t know, smudging involves the lighting of sacred herbs including sweetgrass to produce smoke. This smoke symbolizes a cleansing of mind, body and spirit before the Creator. I hope you can see the obvious connection between baptism, which declares God’s cleansing of his covenant children, and smudging. I know there are some that argue that we shouldn’t adopt First Nations practices, but, for me, this makes no sense at all. The Bible clearly teaches that the gospel does not impose a culture, but rather transforms it. In other words, God wants to take African culture, European culture, First Nations culture and every other culture and transform it such that it recognizes the goodness and grace of God. As such, we shouldn’t be surprised that Christian culture in Korea looks different that Christian culture in Brazil. In fact, we should celebrate it!
I’m so thankful for what God is doing through our Zambian partnership. Our Zambia team’s presentation in church yesterday was a reminder of how unique and strategic this partnership actually is. You’ll be hearing a lot more in the coming months how The River is going to raise its game with respect to this partnership. If you’d like to give to our Zambia Partnership, don’t hesitate. Simply indicate such along with your offering.