The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest and the 4th largest, by volume, in the United States. Dropping an average of over two feet each of its 1200 mile length, the Columbia’s flow rate is the highest of any North American river draining into the Pacific Ocean. Its large flow and steep grade means this river carries an immense amount of energy. The Columbia is one powerful river! But it doesn’t work alone. The drainage basin covers an area the size of France which is fed by portions of watersheds from seven states and British Columbia. Dozens of smaller rivers and hundreds of tributaries feed into this massive ecosystem. Hiking around Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and North Cascades I have seen a few headwaters of these tributaries in the form of snow melt. It’s amazing to look at a small stream that appears from under a sheet of snow and think about its journey to the Columbia and on to the ocean.
In the past 2000+ years the Spirit has been like flowing water of the Christian faith in the spread of the Gospel to all nations, through the movement of the Church. The Holy Spirit has been at work in the Church since Pentecost, permeating culture, ethnicity, culture, and time. At times it has been a turbulent journey (understatement) and at times even violent, but miraculously the message of God’s love for the world, Jesus’ redeeming work on the cross and the power in his resurrection, continues to spread further downstream. While the Church has its imperfections, it is also beautiful in its diversity of expression and practices.
In discerning our shared call to serve, to love, and to participate in God’s great kingdom work - it is important to understand ourselves. What we believe and where we come from. In the next several weeks our preaching series will look at the streams of our faith tradition in the Evangelical Covenant Church. While we do not require adherence to particular theological doctrine for belonging in the Covenant, we still hold dear to history and theology. The Covenant has identified six affirmations that shape both our beliefs about God (orthodoxy) and how we live out our faith (orthopraxy). Leading up to Pentecost (June 4), we invite you on this riverboat journey as we look upstream at the various tributaries of the Church that have particularly informed who we are today as Covenant people, so that we are better able to understand how the Spirit flows in, with and through us as a community.