Sunday, August 2, 2009
100 Huntley Street
It was the New Year's Eve after Hilary had gotten saved (1981) and we were visiting her parents. Christmas Eve at their house had always been a fixed tradition with midnight Anglican Communion service (a very beautiful event) and a get-together with flowing bar and Betty's bounteous buffet.
But New Years was always meant to be a different matter. Probably just the immediate family with a good movie or two, a lot of conversation, well lubricated. At dinner my wife had tried again to explain what she had recently experienced in Christ. But the Hourds at that time saw it all as fanaticism. They were comfortable in the traditional liturgy and confessed that the expression "born-again" was not their cup of tea.
Conversation cooled off and, most unusually, the elders went to bed early, leaving Hilary and me alone to de-brief what had just happened. I was upset with my wife for being other than diplomatic in her explanation of how her life had been changing since "repenting and receiving Jesus into her heart".
(Her father Charlie had asked me to keep a close eye on her condition, as he wondered about her stability, with the new baby daughter and all. "Oh you can count on me to keep this in hand" said the young People's Warden of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Chatham.)
Suddenly Hilary stopped our heated exchange by saying that she was not going to start the New Year with an argument. Somehow she was going to involve Jesus in this moment. Imagine that, I thought, and with no priest here to get the thing rolling.
She had heard of a special New Year's Prayer and Praise Program scheduled on TV. What, no John Wayne movie? But something urged that I go along with her suggestion.
What I observed hosted by David and Norma Jean Mainse of 100 Huntley Street proved entirely appropriate and sincere. They "lifted up" individuals, hurting ones , families, neighbourhoods, churches and the nation for a better year of peace, relationships, safety, communication, health and prosperity. They even shed a few tears which were entirely acceptable. What was happening to me? I had always thought that this guy was somewhat "over the top". Now I was recognizing compassion and dignity in this Pentecostal preacher and his beautiful song-bird wife.
The salt of conviction permeated this entire experience and it wasn't too many more months before Doug and Hilary had brought an end to the tension over "all this Jesus stuff". It was Hilary's birthday the following July at an Abundant Life Conference in Kitchener with Huntley Street personalities on the roster, and I took that walk "down the sawdust trail" to start a new life in Christ (July 21,1982).
Now why have I written all of this New Year's material in the middle of the summer?
A friend of the family is considering an unprecedented involvement with 100 Huntley Street and its newer leadership. He too balks at evangelical rhetoric and notices how "walk and talk" in the Church often do not coincide. To him I would say, "Fret not. This is the real deal."