At our worst, we Christians have isolated and insulated ourselves from our culture's mainstreams. We can be inward-looking, self-absorbed, self-important, and cloistered, instead of engaging people at our modern day Mars Hills. I remember a pastor friend who had a parishioner whose child had gone to Christian schools for so long that he was barely functional in the world at large. Another pastor confided to me several summers ago that at his annual denominational meeting delegates were, in all honesty, merely "talking to themselves." And I still remember exactly where I was twenty-five years ago when one of my seminary professors remarked to me that he had never entered a movie theater.
But at our best, Christians like Neil have always been just as comfortable living, learning and sharing the Gospel in the marketplace of ideas as in the ministry of the church, in bars and board rooms as well as in basilicas, in university lecture halls as easily as in church fellowship halls. In an outward, centrifugal movement modeled after Paul at the Areopagus, believers have welcomed the opportunity to meet real people where they really live, work, and think, in order to gain a hearing for their "strange ideas" about repentance, rebirth, and the resurrection.
My heart has become capable of every form: It is a pasture for gazelles And a monastery for Christian monks, And a temple for idols, And the pilgrim's Ka'ba, And the tablets of the Torah, And the book of the Koran. I follow the religion of Love: Whatever way love's camel takes, that is my religion, my faith. -Ibn Arabi 1165-1240
shows that the "impossible ethic" of enemy love is indeed possible,
though costly One need not be divine to do what Jesus did. Jesus tells us:
"The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact,
will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father."...
Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral dramatizes the martyrdom of Thomas Becket,
archbishop of Canterbury, in 1170. The story builds to the final moments when
Becket is pulled inside the cathedral by three priests trying to save him from
the king’s forces. They bar the door for safety, but Thomas, with a boldness
befitting Stephen himself demands:
Unbar the doors! throw open the doors!
I will not have the house of prayer, the church of Christ,
The sanctuary, turned into a fortress..
The church shall be open, even to our enemies.
We are not here to triumph by fighting, by stratagem, or by resistance,
Not to fight with beasts as men. We have fought the beast
And have conquered. We have only to conquer
Now, by suffering. This is the easier victory.
Now is the triumph of the Cross, now
Open the door! I command it. OPEN THE DOOR!
Stephen and like Jesus, Thomas went to his death opposing the forces of evil
not with power but with faithfulness. Though we are tempted to hide behind
barricades, guns and bombs, the stories of the martyrs remind us of the one who
overcame evil not by defeating the enemy but by loving the enemy and thus
defeating death itself. http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=2243
Uniting Church 40th anniversary - 40 days of prayer
On Thursday 22 June the Uniting Church in Australia will be turning 40. In the lead-up to this date Church leaders and members will take part in 40 days of prayer. This national event begins in Melbourne on Sunday.
During this time, the whole Church is invited to pray together for renewal for ourselves, our communities, our world and our Church.
The UCA president and president-elect, the synod moderators as well as assembly and synod general secretaries plus representatives from the National Uniting and Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress are gathering in Melbourne for 40 continuous hours of prayer from 14 to 16 May.
The prayer focus is the continuing life and renewal of the Uniting Church. The 40 hours of prayer will commence at Wesley Church, Lonsdale Street, at 3pm on Sunday. Prayer will continue at 130 Little Collins Street from Monday morning to Tuesday morning.
The '40 Days of Prayer’ emails, prepared by SA Moderator Rev Sue Ellis, will be sent daily from Sunday 14 May to Thursday 22 June. If you would like to receive the emails, please add your name and email address to the subscription list. For a downloadable version of the reflections please clickhere.
Barbara Brown Taylor’s "Blessed Brokenness"
in her book "Gospel Medicine"
writes: "the Christ is not
the one who wins the power struggle; he is the one who loses it. The Christ is
not the undefeated champion; he is the suffering servant, the broken one, who
comes into his glory with his wounds still visible. Those hurt places are the
proof that he is who he says he is, because the way you recognize the Christ -
and his followers - is not by their muscles but by their scars." "The
blindness of the two disciples does not keep their Christ from coming to them.
He does not limit his post-resurrection appearances to those with full
confidence in him. He comes to the disappointed, the doubtful, the
disconsolate. He come to those who do not know their Bibles, who do not
recognize him even when they are walking right beside him. He comes to those
who have given up and are headed back home, which makes this whole story a
story about the blessedness of brokenness." "Jesus seems to prefer
working with broken people, with broken dreams in a broken world. If someone
hands him a whole loaf, he will take it, bless it, break it, and give it, and
he will do the same thing with his own flesh and blood, because that is the way
of life God has shown him to show the rest of us: to take what we have been
given, whether we like it or not, and to bless it - to say thank you for it -
whether it is the sweet, satisfying bread of success or the tear-soaked bread
of sorrow. To say thank you and to break it because that is the only way it can
be shared, and to hand it around, not to eat it all by ourselves but to find
someone to eat it with, so that the broken loaf may bring all of us broken ones
together into one body, where we may recognize the risen Lord in our