100 years ago: June 1899
Canadian Churchman reported that in some quarters the lavish expenditure on flowers as decorations in our churches at festival seasons has been deprecated, and it is added that the cost of the flowers might be better spent on missions. There is a precedent in the Gospels for such a murmur, but, unless our memory fails us, our Lord commended, instead of condemning, a costly outlay made for the anointing of His own sacred Person. But beyond all doubt this is an age of extravagance in which the lines of due proportion are apt to be overlooked. In some churches undue prominence is given to music, with the effect of turning the House of God into a chamber for the display of musical talent at the sacrifice of the liturgy. In one leading church in Canada on Easter Day, two of the three proper Psalms, one of the two proper Lessons, the Te Deum and the Athanasian Creed were “side-tracked” to make room for an elaborate anthem.
50 years ago: June 1949
Canadian Churchman reported a comment by Bishop Stephen Neill: “I wish I could see more sign that the churches are aware of what is happening, and of the extreme urgency of these days. What saddens the observer is not their weakness, but their apparently irredeemable triviality. Triviality does not come from close attention to trifles; that is a Christian virtue. Triviality comes from a failure in the sense of proportion, in the lack of perspective, in the failure to perceive the grand outlines of the strategy of God and to take action commensurate with them.”
25 years ago: June 1974
Canadian Churchman reported that Mrs. Marjery Reynolds charged a Toronto Anglican clergyman with trying to “blackmail our family into attending church” before he would agree to baptize their three-and-a-half-month-old son. Mrs. Reynolds says she considers herself to be a Christian although she stopped attending church services 10 years ago. “If Darryl were about to die I believe he would not be allowed into Heaven because he has not been baptized.” Is baptism a radical act in the Christian faith, or a celestial insurance policy? This was the issue set before the Doctrine and Worship committee last month. “It’s difficult to see within a Christian society the radical act that baptism once was and still is,” said one member. “In the pre-Christian era, to be baptized meant to risk death.” Another said that infant baptism makes sense only in the context of a continuing life within the Christian community – the church at the parish level.