Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

 

 

People have different ways of approaching reality. Some are analytical, reasoned, logical, etc. That’s not me. Not that I can’t be analytical, reasoned and logical. But those are deliberate disciplines that I practice; in contrast to my instinctive way of approaching the world which is through my feelings. I’m just a feeling kind of person.

Maybe too much sometimes. When people talk about having certain spiritual gifts I always say I have the spiritual gift of weeping – I cry at weddings and baptisms and movies. I can’t sing Charles Wesley’s And Can It Be without getting choked up. There’s just something about the words, “Amazing love! How can it be, that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” I’m not a very good singer, but I love to belt those words out. And then toward the end of the song when it says, “My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.” I usually have to keep myself from jumping up and down during that verse.

Jumping up and down to Charles Wesley – go figure.

Not surprisingly, I resonate with Scriptures like Paul’s word in Romans 8 that God’s Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children; and with John Wesley’s experience of having his heart “strangely warmed.” That kind of gut oriented experience of the faith is foundational for me.

So one of the most disorienting moments of my ministry happened when I was approached by a young woman toward the end of a weekend of preaching who earnestly asked how she could really know that God loved her if she couldn’t feel it.

This was a Cornerstone Celebration weekend so she had heard me preach three times already and had been involved in my three-hour teaching session on sharing our faith. Now it was about 5 minutes before the last service was to start and she was desperate to know if what I’d been talking about all weekend long was really true.

Was it really true that God loved her enough to become human in Jesus; was it really true that God’s love for her was radical enough to involve passionate sacrifice. She was sure it was true for everyone else since they could feel it; but it couldn’t possibly be true for her because she couldn’t.

You’ve probably already guessed that I was getting all misty as my mind raced, searching for some way to respond. She continued that it wasn’t just about feeling God’s love. She couldn’t feel anything. Things had happened in her past and she had dealt with them by repressing, pushing down and blocking out any and all feeling within her. I have no feelings, she said and as I looked into her eyes, I believed her.

How is it that we come to know God’s love? Is it only when we feel God’s Spirit “bearing witness” with our spirit? Is it only when our hearts are “strangely warmed?” Is there more to it than that? If we’re not a “feeling kind of person,” does God not work in us and through us anyway?

I was really struggling as the woman patiently waited for my response. My heart was breaking and I was petrified that somehow I would compound her pain. That in my bumbling I would somehow contribute to her certainty that God couldn’t possibly love her since she wasn’t able to feel it.

Way back in the mid-400′s Patrick began preaching in Ireland. He traveled from settlement to settlement, staying with the people, loving them and working among them. Through his ministry, monastic communities sprang up. These communities were different from what we normally think of when we think of monastic communities where monks separated themselves from the rest of society for a life of solitude and prayer. These were communities of committed Christ followers who lived and worked together, sharing resources, love and life together. There were men and women, adults and kids; some were single, some were married, some had families – some were priests but most weren’t, and they were all together in community.

One of the things that made these communities so cool was the way they treated outsiders. There was always a gatekeeper – not to keep anybody out – but to be on duty all the time so that anyone who wanted to come in could come in – no matter what time of the day or night it was. If you visited the community the gate keeper would welcome you first and then call everyone to come greet you. The abbot or abbess (head of the community) would immediately come out to make sure you felt at home. It wouldn’t matter what people were doing, they would stop because making guests feel welcome was more important than anything else. Then they’d show you to the guest house – the best accommodations in the whole place. When it was time to eat, you’d eat at the head table with the abbot/abbess. It would be clear that you could stay as long as you wanted, but you were also free to leave at any time. You could eat with the community, work with the community, worship with the community – always welcome to share in everything about the community. If you stayed for a while they’d assign you a ‘soul friend’ to talk to – no agenda – just about whatever was on your mind. Eventually, if you continued to stay they’d talk to you about God’s love and offer you the opportunity to become more than a guest.

It was a slow process of revealing God’s love; a process that started with the concept of belonging and acceptance and moved only gradually toward commitment. It was a process that took time because it was about providing evidence of God’s love. Not evidence in the form of skilled argument or tight logic; not even the evidence of any specific feeling even though that was probably part of it for most people. It was the evidence of action – consistent actions of love, continued day in and day out – actions that made God’s love visible and tangible and real through the welcoming, caring, support and nurture of people. Evidence through action that people have value simply because they are.

The minutes were passing faster than I wanted them to. I could tell the worship leaders were ready to get started but couldn’t since the woman and I were standing front and center in the sanctuary. I asked her why she came to this particular church. She said that the people were kind to her and took her in when she returned to town after a long absence. In the few years since she’d been back, they’d consistently helped her and her children. Over and over they had been there for her even in really difficult times. It was kind of like they had made space – just for her.

That’s how you know.

One of my responsibilities in the United Methodist Church is to serve on the General Conference Standing Committee for Central Conference Matters. Essentially, that group deals with issues facing the UM church outside of the United States.

In 2012 the General Conference referred the task of creating a “global Book of Discipline” to the StCCCM. As we began to tackle that project during our meeting in September, we realized just how massive it is – and probably more importantly, just how complex, convoluted, and in many ways unmanageable our current Discipline really is.

The whole project of a global Book of Discipline begs the question, what does it mean to be a global church? What binds us together across cultures and geography? And therein lies the rub. I’m not sure we know. I’m not even sure we know what binds us together across the various cultures and geography of the United States, let alone Europe, Africa or the Philippines.

Throughout the StCCCM meeting, my mind kept returning to another of my responsibilities in ministry – serving on the World Methodist Council. Now there’s a global body – over 80 different churches (denominations) representing over 80.5 million people, on every continent across the entire planet (well, maybe not Antarctica), all sharing a common Wesleyan heritage.

As I thought about these parallel and intertwined groups – the UMC and the WMC – I was reminded of the Imperatives of World Methodist Evangelism, which the WMC recently agreed was a good summation of what binds us together as a global body:

 

Imperatives of World Methodist Evangelism: “Reason for the Hope within Us” (1 Peter 3.15)

In the context of a global contemporary culture, it is imperative that “the people called Methodists” be bound by a recognition that we are a movement of missionary people called by God, who in Himself is missionary. We are called to join with Him in His global mission to the whole of creation. Therefore it is incumbent upon us, as World Methodists, to revisit and restate in clearly articulate terms that which binds us together:

1) The Centrality of Jesus Christ in Reconciling the World to God

  • We have confidence in and a passion for the Gospel and we affirm its urgency.
  • We hold Jesus Christ central in everything and emphasize that He is Lord and Savior.
  • We lift up the importance of “conversion to Jesus Christ” and of faithfully making disciples throughout the world. (2 Corinthians 5.18-19; 1 Corinthians 9.16)

2) Connectivity

  • As Methodists we are one people in all the world, connected through our Wesleyan heritage as well as through being part of one Church, holy and apostolic.
  • We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ’s Commission to His Church to preach the gospel and to make disciples of all nations is the supreme business of the church.
  • In this spirit we are sent to serve others and together to engage in world mission and evangelism. (Matthew 28.19)

3) Salvation for all

  • Today more than ever, identifying needs and addressing them are crucial if we are to faithfully proclaim the Gospel and spread Scriptural holiness throughout the world.
  • We affirm the “Four-alls of Methodism” as being distinctive: All need to be saved. All can be saved. All can know that they are saved. All can be saved to the uttermost. (Mark 16.15; Ephesians 2.8; 2 Corinthians 5.14-15; 1 Timothy 2.3-4; Hebrews 7.25)

4) Openness to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit

  • The Holy Spirit moves all over the world.
  • The Holy Spirit gave birth the Church.
  • The Holy Spirit continues to empower the Church to grow through witness and ministry in the world.
  • Wherever a church is open to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, it is alive and vibrant in faith, hope and witness. (Acts 1.8; Romans 12.6-8; 1 Corinthians 12.8-11)

5) Every Christian is called to witness to the good news of Christ Jesus.

  • This witness is incarnational.
  • The Church as a community of faith is the witness of Christ in the world.
  • Each Christian is called to witness for Christ in the situation in which one lives.
  • Church leaders are to equip, empower and enable members to understand the context for witness.
  • This understanding helps believers to be confident and competent to share their faith through word, deed and sign. (Luke 4.18-19; Acts 1.8; Romans 15.18-19)

about-portrait6) Evangelism grounded in Scripture and Prayer.

  • Evangelism is grounded in the Holy Bible, the foundation for doctrine, teaching, preaching and practice.
  • Evangelism is also grounded in prayer, both personal and corporate. (Ephesians 6.18-19; Colossians 4.2-4)

 

If this can bind a global body of over 80 diverse denominations (and you only need to look at the difference between the Methodist Church of Nigeria and the Uniting Church of Australia to see how diverse it is), might it be a start in thinking about what binds our single denomination? Maybe we’ll surprise ourselves and find we actually agree.

 

 

Rediscovering First Things

Sunday, February 17th, 2013 | By Kimberly Reisman
Filed in: Kimberly Reisman

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Kim Reisman

Kim Reisman

 

Rediscovering First Things

Recently my husband and I remodeled our kitchen. Since I tend to be the one who can envision how I want things to look, before we began the project I sketched out a plan on graph paper. I understood the concept of weight-bearing walls and knew that would figure into the project, so I called a draftsman to make sure my idea was doable. Although I knew a little about weight bearing in construction, what I didn’t realize was that there would be one point that would be crucial to the whole endeavor. I discovered that I could bump out the back wall of my kitchen as I planned and a large beam could be put in its place to compensate; but if I left that one particular point without support, the house would collapse. One point. One point was crucial in bearing the weight of my entire house.

Renewal is a popular thing to talk about these days, primarily because we long for it so deeply in the UM church in the US. As I reflect on the concept, I am continually reminded that though renewal is sometimes connected to the discovery of new things, more often, it is a rediscovery of first things – a rediscovery of those foundational things that have proven to be strong enough to bear the weight of life and faith.

For United Methodists, those first things are our doctrines – those foundational things that bind us together with Christians across the world and throughout the ages, as well as things that define us as a community of Christians with our own unique place in the body of Christ. Like that one point in my house, these things are necessary to bear the weight of our UM “house.” They are the very things that have born the weight of 2000 years of Christians continually seeking to live into the kingdom of God unfolding in their midst. Renewal for the UM Church then, is intimately tied to a rediscovery of our first things, our doctrines.

Sadly, many people have no idea what UM doctrines are. We have, over the years, preferred the ease of open-ended musings to the much more challenging, but also more rewarding task of “faith seeking understanding.” In this way we have unwittingly placed the wondrous mysteries of Christian faith that are contained in our doctrines at a safe distance. Rather than reflecting on them and allowing them to become real for us, our doctrines remain vague and therefore make few intellectual and moral demands. That vagueness lulls us into thinking we can mold our doctrines into whatever shape we choose, turning them “into mirrors for our spiritual needs, real or imagined, rather than allowing ourselves to be reformed by them.”[1]

But this will not lead to renewal. Renewal is not born out of vagueness and ambiguity. Renewal is unleashed when people discover or rediscover what they truly believe, when they actually have something clear and substantial to become passionate about.

We must open ourselves to the power of the Holy Spirit to draw us close to the mysteries of God contained in our doctrines. Not doing so doesn’t mean that we will find other ways to approach the mysteries of faith; it means we won’t approach them at all, and thus have nothing of substance to become passionate about and nothing unique to offer the world.

It appears that much of the UMC in the US has lost the ability to clearly state what we believe and why, as well as what should be believed and why. This is painfully true in our common life together and sadly, often even more so when we relate to outsiders whom we hope to invite in. However, when we rediscover the power of our interior life, when we drink deeply at the well of the mysteries of God contained in our doctrines, our communal and institutional life is enriched, we are able as individuals and as a church to articulate the meaning and content of our faith in specific and persuasive ways, and the Holy Spirit is unleashed to move us toward renewal.



[1] Bruce D. Marshall, “Renewing Dogmatic Theology,” First Things, May, 2012.

Get Out of the Way

Madeleine L’Engle writes:

Madeleine L’Engle

When the artist is truly the servant of the work, the work is better than the artist; Shakespeare knew how to listen to his work, and so he often wrote better than he could write; Bach composed more deeply, more truly than he knew; Rembrandt’s brush put more of the human spirit on canvas than Rembrandt could comprehend.

When the work takes over, then the artist is enabled to get out of the way, not to interfere. When the work takes over, then the artist listens.

But before he can listen, paradoxically, he must work. Getting out of the way and listening is not something that comes easily, either in art or in prayer.

It’s true in art and in prayer, but also in faith itself – particularly in sharing that faith. When we are ‘servants of the work,’ as L’Engle describes, just as the artist allows the work to take over, so we allow the Holy Spirit, which moves within us and through us, to take over. Just as the artist is enabled to get out of the way – to not interfere – we are enabled to become vehicles of transformation in the lives of others. Not the source of transformation, mind you, but fortunate witnesses of a power deeper that we can comprehend.

Like with the artist’s work, when the Holy Spirit takes over, we must listen – deeply, attentively, openly. Not only to the Spirit, but to the other with whom we share – listening deeply, attentively, openly.

But, as L’Engle says, there is a paradox. Like the artist, before we can get out of the way and listen we must work. To be a ‘servant of the work’ we must launch ourselves into it, trusting that the work is bigger and better than we are. So we make space, build relationships, take risks, share vulnerabilities and allow the Spirit to take over; allow the Spirit to enable us not to interfere, but to be fortunate witnesses of a power deeper than we can comprehend.

Kim Reisman

Kim Reisman

Kingdom Life Healing Ministries Event

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 | By Next Step Evangelism
Filed in: Events

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Encountering the God Who Heals

 

A Kingdom Life Healing Ministries Event

 

This is a great opportunity to work with a very gifted woman…

 

 

Dr. Bobby Cabot

The Healing School

October 23-27, 2012

Bear Lake Manor

7812 Main Street

Bear Lake, MI 49614

 

 

 

 

The Healing School, led by Rev. Dr. Bobby Cabot,  is a 3 ½ day event which combines cognitive, spiritual and experiential components in order for all participants to learn about healing and experience the Healing Christ themselves.

The Healing School focuses primarily on inner healing.  Sometimes called “healing of emotions,” or “healing of memories,” inner healing is a unique ministry which only Christ can do.  The human facilitator is just that – the one who helps the person receiving prayer come into the presence of Christ for His divine touch.

 

 

              TOPICS TAUGHT IN THE HEALING SCHOOL

◊ The God who Speaks
◊ Distorted Images of God
◊ Structures of Inner Healing
◊ Dysfunctional Behavior
◊ Emotional Upheaval
◊ Lies we believe about God, ourselves and others
◊ Forgiveness

REGISTRATION INFORMATION

First Time Attendee:  $240

Early Bird Special: (Before September 10) $195

Couples:  $375 ($105 savings)

Alumni:  $175

Meals: $48 (3 dinners, 4 lunches – order in advance)

 

For more information contact:   KLHM Registration ~ 12318 Smith Street ~ Bear Lake, MI 49614                 231.557.0166

klhmbobby@yahoo.com

Those coming from out-of-town may make reservations at the motel of your choice. Early registrants may be put up complementary in host homes.

 

 

What’s Your Next Step?

vickersHaving read Jason Vickersbook Minding the Good Ground: A Theology of Church Renewal, I’m continuing to ponder next steps. Here is a second installment of those thoughts. You can read the first installment, A Death Embrace, here.

 

Selfishly, one of the things I appreciated about Jason’s book is that it confirmed my own thoughts. From my perspective, historically the church has not always held together the relationship between the personal and the corporate in a holistic fashion, which (again from my perspective) has in turn undermined evangelism in significant ways. Nicholas Perrin is on target when he say’s that many Christians are conditioned to read Scripture as God’s saving Word to them as individuals rather than God’s saving word to the church. He goes on to say that this kind of understanding has led to ‘a notion that views the church as little more than a loose association of the equivalents of Jesus’ Facebook friends.’*

Over the years, much evangelistic activity has focused on the person as an isolated entity, as though that was the entire focus of Jesus’ message. But that’s somewhat of a distortion. In Christian faith the personal and the communal don’t cancel each other out, they’re bound together, with each reinforcing the other.

That’s why Jason’s critique of the idea of the church as the ‘community of the already saved’ is so important. But it’s not so easy to swallow. Where I grew up, we’d say Jason’s gone to meddlin’.

But I can’t think of a more important word at this juncture. Salvation is not simply a private transaction between an individual and Jesus. Sin is not just about transgressing divine laws. Atonement is not merely the juridical event of pardon. And (thankfully) the church is not a ‘waiting room for heaven’ or ‘a good place to get something to eat and make a few new friends while we wait to be called home to glory,’ or even ‘a good place to come together for civic involvement or…political caucusing.’**

What is at stake, especially for evangelism, is the recognition that salvation is dramatically more far-reaching and comprehensive than a simple private transaction. Sin is deeper and more complex than the breaking of a few commandments. Atonement is far more sweeping and transformative than the receipt of pardon. And (thankfully) the church is instrumental in all of it – the very context of the Holy Spirit’s activity and the chosen vehicle through which God works for radical transformation.

But convincing folks of all that can seem like a really hard sell these days – especially in the United Methodist Church. And it’s not just because many of us think of the church as an afterthought when it comes to salvation.

Kim Reisman

Kim Reisman

One of my seminary professors, George Lindbeck talked about the importance of church doctrine to the formation of communal identity. He said that ‘Church doctrines are communally authoritative teachings regarding beliefs and practices that are considered essential to the identity or welfare of the group in question…they indicate what constitutes faithful adherence to a community.’ Think about the Quakers, for instance. If I’m a Quaker, but I oppose pacifism, I’m not going to be viewed as a good Quaker, because that’s not what a member of the Society of Friends should be. Lindbeck says that if you don’t draw that conclusion, then it’s most likely because ‘the belief has ceased to be communally formative.’*** The belief may still be a formal or official one, but it’s no longer operational.

That’s the heart of our current crisis in the UMC. Not only have we forgotten that the church is instrumental to salvation, it may also very well be that the doctrinal heritage of the UMC is no longer communally formative (at least in the US). If that’s the case, then (sadly) we really aren’t much more than a loose association of Jesus’ Facebook friends.

 

 

*Nicholas Perrin, ‘Jesus Eschatology and Kingdom Ethics: Ever the Twain Shall Meet’, in N. Perrin and R. Hays (eds.), Jesus, Paul and the People of God: A Theological Dialogue with N. T. Wright (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2011), 100, 102

**Jason Vickers, Minding the Good Ground: A Theology of Church Renewal (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2011), 83

***George Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age [1984], (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 60

Kim Reisman

Kim Reisman

What’s your next step?

It’s a good question – in this case as it relates to the United Methodist Church – what’s our next step? General Conference is a (sort of) distant memory; our regional Jurisdictional Conferences have come and gone. Various groups and people have publically staked out their claims about keeping their covenants or breaking them. So what’s next?

Jason Vickers

Jason Vickers

Now that my PhD work is officially over I’ve begun trying to catch up on my reading. Jason Vickers’ book, Minding the Good Ground: A Theology of Church Renewal was a timely read in the aftermath of all the church politics that have unfolded thus far in 2012. The book is full of important insights that are particularly relevant to the current state of affairs in the UMC. I hope to explore some of those insights over the next several posts.

The first idea I want to highlight comes at the very end of the book – literally the next to last page. Jason writes:

…Many liberals and evangelicals are blinded to the shifts taking place around them precisely because they cannot take their eyes off one another long enough to take notice. It is as though evangelical and liberal Protestants are locked in a death embrace in which both sides are equally obsessed with killing one another. All the while, we keep buried in our basements the solid food for which a spiritually hungry generation is searching far and wide.*

I’m not sure I’ve read a better description of General Conference 2012. But more than that – Jason is spot on in his insight when it comes to the overall UMC. That’s what troubles me. How can we really understand the nature of the church, of what God has called us to be and do in the world, if we are so distracted?

Many folks these days talk about reviving the ‘movement’ nature of Methodism as a way of renewing the UMC. I find that somewhat ironic since in its institutionalism, the UM of today resembles the Church of England of John Wesley’s day. Being or behaving like a movement seems unlikely. A better option might be Wesley’s own approach of seeking ‘the lost sheep of United Methodism.’**

For that to happen though, we’ve got to take our eyes off each other long enough to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit, on whom the very life of the church depends.

 

*Jason Vickers, Minding the Good Ground: A Theology for Church Renewal (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2011), 106

**In Reasons Against a Separation from the Church of England, Wesley described his work as being for ‘the lost sheep of the Church of England.’

 

 

2012 IN AC logoAt the Celebration of Ministry Service at Annual Conference in Indianapolis last week, I was struck again by how we in the Methodist tradition continually strive to invoke the Holy Spirit upon the life of the church and upon those who are to order and lead it: in the midst of conference and bishop, in the call to itinerant forms of ministry and accountability, we confess how dependent we are upon the Spirit to share in the mission of the whole church. I was struck by the way we are to order our lives not simply toward God but toward one another, and by the way our guiding vision always takes a particular shape during a particular time regardless of the challenges. It was a grace-filled moment, to be sure, but also a reminder of the true end to which Christ calls each of us.

In a letter to John Smith on June 25, 1746, John Wesley, in reflecting on the Methodist movement, wrote, “What is the end of all ecclesiastical order? Is it not to bring souls from the power of Satan to God? And to build them in his fear and love? Order, then, is so far valuable as it answers these ends; and if it answers them not it is worth nothing.”

Wesley’s quote captures the deeply missional thrust of the people called Methodists: a church’s pattern of organization and authority – or polity – must be oriented toward the church’s mission of saving souls or making disciples. How we order our lives must somehow support that basic mission. As Wesley would say elsewhere:  if we can’t find ways to organize the church toward these ends, then we might as well let the devil win!

As United Methodists we have spent a great deal of energy over the years trying to align our organization more purposefully with our mission. As historian Russell Richey of Emory University has stated, Methodists have always tried to develop appropriate structures that would sustain and nourish their mission depending on the era. What have remained constant over time are those elements that have been distinctive to Methodists from early on: conference, episcopacy, itinerant ministry, and forms of accountability. While these aspects do not provide a full account of Methodist polity, the loss of any of them would diminish something unique to the Methodist way of sharing in God’s mission.

To be sure, it’s a tall order to keep these four elements together, especially during a time of historic transition. It would be easy, for example, to fall into the trap of wanting to do away with one of these principles at the expense of another. It would also be tempting to see the role of the Holy Spirit as only working in our individual lives or congregations as against the structures of the wider church as an institution. And yet, as our history indicates, our polity has persisted through time not just because we have the right structures but because we are actively seeking to respond to what the Spirit is doing.

Such characteristics, of course, are not unique to United Methodists. Other Pan-Methodists and Wesleyan Holiness churches have also struggled with matters of discipline and order – African Methodist Episcopal and Free Methodists come to mind. They are reminders that questions of mission and polity go hand-in-hand in the Wesleyan tradition.

Andy Kinsey

Andy Kinsey

Celebrating in worship at Annual Conference, and praying for those who were being commissioned and ordained, I was moved at how Methodism seeks to order its life as a mission-driven community of faith. Again and again, we invoked God’s Spirit as we sent out those who will serve among us, sharing in ministries of mutual accountability, and renewing our covenant to be faithful to the example of Christ. It was a hope-filled moment, to say the least.

However, as we think about the future of the United Methodist Church, we may also want to ask ourselves why these four elements in our polity have persisted throughout our history. We may want to ask what these may mean in light of our present challenges. As General Conference in Tampa revealed we have much work to do.

 

 

Andy Kinsey serves as the Wesleyan Theologian on the Leadership Table of the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church and as pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Franklin, Indiana.

 

 

Out on a Walk…

 

Because I’ve got a hugely busy time coming up during the next month or so, I’m trying to get a head start on some Next Step posts. I was perusing some of what I’ve written in the past & came across some interesting stuff.

Back in March, 2009 I wrote this…

Meister Eckhart

Meister Eckhart

I’ve got a great set of note cards that has a beautiful drawing of African women strutting with baskets on their heads & drums on their hips. The drawing is called Virgins Dancing by Stella Atal.* I love the art, but it’s the quote from Meister Eckhart that pulls it all together:

God is always at home. It is we who have gone out for a walk.

 I wonder sometimes if we in the church haven’t gone out for a walk – a long one. We seem to put our energy into so many things – good things, important things – but then we overlook, or worse, even forget, the foundational things.

I’m lucky to even be writing this given my long absence from the world of blogging. These days it seems that my work demands that I write for every venue but this one. So I won’t waste valuable time lecturing about what’s foundational & what’s not. But here’s a random thought. Is it possible that it’s not really about ‘creating new places for new people & renewing existing ones’ as the bishops & General Conference have said? Could it really be about offering the life transforming grace of God through Jesus Christ to the world?

Stella Atal

God is always at home...

The whole creating new places things sounds like a good idea, but what kind of new places for new people are we talking about? I’d like to assume that when the bishops (or whoever it was) came up with such a catchy phrase they were talking about creating communities of faith living as the body of Christ. Even better, I’d like to assume they were talking about communities of faith living as the body of Christ & committed to proclaiming the gospel of the Messiah Jesus in order to bring people into a life transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. I’d like to think they were expressing a commitment to evangelism. But somehow I wonder. Nobody’s really talking about Jesus in any of this – at least not out loud – & God forbid we use the dreaded ‘E’ word. So who knows? The way things are going these new places for new people could wind up being coffee shops for fellowship (not a bad thing in & of itself). Or free trade stores to promote a more just form of capitalism – again, not a bad thing – but not quite the same thing as connecting people with the source of life abundant.

I don’t really know what to make of it really. So I wonder. Because as good as it sounds, it still feels like we’re out on a walk – a long walk.

 

Hmmm….sounds familiar…

 

*Sadly, the url I used in 2009 is no longer active – but here’s what I found for Stella Atal.

 

 

 

MLM-splash-3

Making Life Matter

 

Making Life Matter, a 30 minute Christian inspirational and teaching program hosted by Maxie Dunnam and Shane Stanford launches today on American Family Radio stations across the United States. Next Step will provide a podcast of each show. Click below to listen.