Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes, left, offers the sign of peace to Orthodox Coptic Fr. Bishoi Wasfy at a service to wrap up the Week of Prayer of Christian Unity held at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica Jan. 29. Photo by Michael Swan

‘All are called to present God’s gifts’ says Baptist preacher at Week of Prayer conclusion

By 
  • February 2, 2017

A surprise request during a visit to a Catholic church led to a revelation about love and Christian unity for a Baptist preacher.

During the final service of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at St. Michael’s Cathedral on Jan. 29, Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes told the large gathering about an instance when he was asked to bring forward the gifts at Edinburgh’s St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral.

Holmes had stopped in to see the historic church while on a trip to the Scottish capital and was surprised when one of the ushers asked him to bring up the gifts. He hesitated to tell the usher he was a Baptist minister because he didn’t want to make an issue of it, or seem to be emphasizing the division.

On the other hand, he didn’t want to cause offence or scandal.

His quandary left Holmes thinking about the act of presenting the gifts.

“If there’s not love in our hearts, we can carry that bread to the altar but it’s stale, it’s mouldy,” he said. “We can carry that wine, but without love it’s sour, it’s vinegar.”

To present our gifts to God is an essential call to all Christians, said Holmes.

“I believe we’re all called to present the gifts of God in the world,” he said. “When we hear the voice of Christ and we are compelled by the love of Christ to share the gifts of the Lord, the saints are here with us.”

The service at St. Michael’s was the Toronto culmination of the global celebration of ecumenical spirit featured Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Orthodox clergy gathered behind the altar, asking forgiveness for the sins of disunity and listening to the Christian musical heritage of Armenian, Baptist and Catholic choirs.

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