Is God worried about Sunday shopping in PEI?

In this article, Pastor Peter uses a recent political hot potato to show that there is peace and rest in Jesus. This article was written for the Saturday edition of the St. Catharines Standard. – Nathan Thurber

Last week Prince Edward Island’s Transportation Minister suggested that God had struck down the Leader of the Opposition, Olive Crane, after she introduced a bill to allow year around Sunday shopping. As a pastor I’m obviously against Sunday shopping. After all, if people didn’t have the option to go to the mall there might be a higher attendance in church. The alternative, of course, is to have such a meaningful Sunday service that people prefer church to the shopping center.

I’m not writing about Sunday shopping per se, but about the media’s inclination to report on events and statements where judgmental Christians present the Almighty as a petty, faultfinding, slap-people-in-face god. Olive Crane appeared on CBC’s Compass, where she argued for the passing of the Sunday shopping law. When she exited the show, she slipped on the set, injuring her ankle and wrist.

Transportation minister, Ron MacKinley, lost no time to bring God into the legislative debate. The minister sounded ever so religious, in that special “humble” way, “I’m not what you call a saint, but I believe in God, and I believe in doing the best I can. You were at CBC pushing Sunday shopping, were you not?” he asked Crane.

“Right after the interview, what happened?”

Crane’s acknowledgement of the injury she has sustained led to MacKinley’s remark that the accident could be that “the Lord works in mysterious ways, maybe you should start worrying what’s going on here? We are going all the time further and further away, whether it is prayers in the school, or whatever it is”. Ms. Crane told a Charlottetown newspaper, “When Mr. MacKinley made his comment, he was serious”, while Premier Robert Ghiz was hoping the whole thing was a “joke”.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I find it embarrassing that the God, who is love, is misrepresented as a micro-manager, operating from His heavenly grandstand, ready to punish anyone, who is not in line.

I wish Premier Ghiz would be right, that this is “a joke”. Sad to say, there are all too many, who have been brainwashed with the idea that God has a few favorite sins that He likes to really judge. Comments like that of the late Jerry Farwell, that September 11th , 2001 was God’s judgment over America, or Pat Robertson’s more recent remark that God punished Haiti with the earthquake that killed more than 200,000, are hardly helpful.

“Holy days” have been a topic a dissension and a cause for religious wars for centuries. Muslims worship on Friday, Jews on Saturday, and Christians, with a few exceptions, on Sunday. So which day is the holy day? If we bothered to read the New Testament we would discover that all days are holy. The whole Sabbath discussion is a mote point. The Sabbath day, celebrated by the Jewish people, was pointing forward to Christ’s coming, when the Sabbath rest would no longer be a particular day, but a person. Genesis tells us that God rested on the seventh day, because His work was done. Similarly we have peace and rest in Jesus Christ, because the work of making ourselves righteous, holy, and acceptable to God, has already been done. Jesus did it. He is our Sabbath.

The news reports from the PEI legislature generated discussion on major news sites, with comments like, “Bible thumpers should not be in positions of power”, or “Wow, God is worried about Sunday shopping in PEI – how quaint.”

The Good News of the Gospel seems to go unnoticed. Whatever our faults, pains, disappointments or regrets, we are invited into the embrace of the Heavenly Father, who receives even the worst offender with hugs and kisses. That warm embrace caused the prodigal son to recognize that he was accepted in spite of his utter failure. That divine embrace is equally available to Mr. MacKinley and Ms. Crane.

Which view of God will carry the day in the PEI legislature? Is it the grotesque, distorted view of God as someone who sprains ankles, breaks wrists and sends earthquakes, or the God, who loves, because He is love. 

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