Precious Snowflakes

July 15, 2017 at 9:32 pm Leave a comment


The youngest sister went through a trying phase: her brothers were bigger, stronger and had more privileges than she did. Everything was “too haaaaard” for her: as far as she was concerned, her parents and both brothers were supposed to make her life easier.  When they didn’t comply, she responded with epic meltdowns.  Her brothers mostly looked on her antics with amusement, and took to calling her their “precious snowflake.”

Fortunately, Precious Snowflake outgrew the phase: now she’s a strong, independent woman and her brothers are inordinately proud of her success in a challenging career. But, as siblings are wont to do, they still  like to remind her of childish failings. They gleefully  present her with all things “snowflake” – hats, gloves, towels, dishware, soap, snowglobes: it’s a pretty impressive collection.

I’ve been thinking about the precious snowflake lately as a number of evangelical leaders in Canada write their members of parliament protesting proposed changes to the criminal code. In particular, Bill C-51 removes Section 176 of the criminal code. Section 176 affords protection for church meetings: while Section 175 prohibits causing a disturbance in a public place, 176 specifies disrupting a minister performing a religious ceremony, as well as prohibiting disrupting “an assembly.”

In other words, we’re such precious snowflakes we need special protection for our church service and our ministers and maybe even our potluck dinners (or suppers, if you’re from Saskatchewan)

In defense of the need to retain this section, the letter writers cite a recent case where an arrest was made  “on June 9th of this year … a woman who is alleged to have entered an Ottawa church screaming and causing damage to a religious statue”  Not one of the writers mentions the woman’s name. Not one of the writers displays any holy curiosity about 52-year-old Katherine Spero. No one wonders why she would return twice to a Roman Catholic church to scream, and finally to rip the right arm off a statue of Jesus. No one seems at all concerned about her mental or emotional health; nor do they ask WHY she was so enraged at the church, or the priest or at Jesus Himself. They just note that she is charged under this Section of the code.

Clearly, these writers seem to reason, Section 176 must remain in place, because we need protection from 52-year-old women who are desperately unwell, or unhappy. Certainly, we need to be sure no one is allowed to stand up and challenge us in the middle of our carefully crafted sermons. Our right to preach the gospel may be compromised if someone questions us, or yells at us, or (as happened in one instance) sings loudly during our message.

It seems we’ve forgotten we serve the fellow who overturned tables when he disagreed with the way the religious folks were behaving in the temple.  (Matthew 21:12-13).  (Or that we come after Paul and Barnabas and Peter and all the others who preached the gospel of love and truth in the face of great opposition, never once demanding special protection.)

Here’s the thing, folks: I’m regularly interrupted in church services by S. who has early signs of dementia and is likely to show up demanding tea in the middle of prayer time. She’s even been known to state quite loudly “I don’t believe this stuff!” while she collects her walker and trudges away mid-sermon. We give her tea, and we ask her if she’d like to join us the next week, knowing it might all happen again.  Keeps me humble. 

If I need the force of the criminal code to guarantee me a quiet and passive audience for the gospel message, I’ve either  forgotten to Put on the Whole Armor of God, or I’ve forgotten that the Church is the Bride of the King who commands the Angel armies. When I start demanding my rights be protected, chances are pretty good I have forgotten my responsibility to preach the gospel wherever and whenever God sends me.

It’s time to grow up, Christian leaders. It’s time to acknowledge the power of the One we serve. It’s time to believe the Gospel we claim to preach and to walk out the Love of Christ. It’s time to act like His Bride, empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach, teach, heal and love.  It’s time to love our “enemies” (and to ask why they are enemies of our church or our gospel – there must be a story to be heard, a broken heart to be healed, a wounded child who needs to be loved.)

If you must write your MPs about legislation before Parliament, how about advocating for prison reform? What about the plight of First Nations communities in Canada’s North?  Or the lack of appropriate facilities for seniors in need of loving care? Or the backlog of refugees trying to navigate an overwhelmed immigration system? Those are the things that matter to Jesus: feeding the hungry, visiting prisoners, caring for widows, being kind to the strangers among us.

Brothers and sisters called to minister to a world that has lost its way: please stop acting like the Christian Church is a precious snowflake.   I promise you, we can proclaim the gospel without special laws to enforce the right to quiet church services where nothing exciting ever happens. We can advocate for those who need our love, our compassion, our Jesus, (including Katherine Spero.)

snowflake mugIt’s time to grow up and BE the Bride of Christ.

I’ll buy you a snowflake mug


Entry filed under: Kim Graham's Quilter's Neighbourhood, Life along the way. Tags: , , , .

Not daring to be silent A Little Leaven

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July 2017

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