Archive for March, 2017

Three Shifts That Are Changing Christianity

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Brian McLaren, in his most recent book “The Great Spiritual Migration”, noted three profound changes…

  1. Spiritually, growing numbers of Christians are moving away from defining themselves by lists of beliefs and toward a way of life defined by love
  2. Theologically, believers are increasingly rejecting the image of God as a violent Supreme Being and embracing the image of God as the renewing Spirit at work in our world for the common good
  3. Missionally, the faithful are identifying less with organized religion and more with organizing religion—spiritual activists dedicated to healing the planet, building peace, overcoming poverty and injustice, and collaborating with other faiths to ensure a better future for all of us.
Profound insights, insights that closely mirror New Church theology.  It echoes the Swedenborgian concept that Christianity must be a life-style faith lived out in loving relationship to others.  That God is all loving, period.  And that we must constantly focus on useful service versus trapping ourselves in the purely intellectual pursuits so much of church mires itself in.
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What is the new invitation in this?

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

This era is a challenging one.  For many the God question is dead or dying.   For many others, the God question remains squeezed to the side of more appealing options, overstuffed schedules and frenetic lives.

The God question. The God question, for me, in 2017, no longer centers on “belief.”  The question now rests on action, on lifestyle, on peace, on sacred commitments – outside of my immediate desires – sacred commitments to join together with others, connecting in fellowship and addressing the suffering of the world in whatever small, humble ways we can.

So what is the new invitation in this?

Possibly the new invitation in this – to rediscover the rhythm of our souls, aligned with God.  To see in Christ a model of how maybe a new form of following arises.  A stewardship of a new spiritual creation and a stewardship of a new physical creation … soul meets God, meets planet, meets body, meets others, meets life.

Sacrifice part of it all.  Sacrifice … “to make sacred.”

Sacrifice on the path to joy!

 

 

Kensington in the Snow

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Fr. Gregory Boyle offered a wonderful short story.

In his cramped LA office, rushing to prepare for a noon baptism, a heroin addict stumbled in asking to meet.  As  Mother Theresa would say, ‘God in God’s most distressing disguises.’

Initially annoyed, initially rushing towards the logical “I don’t have time for this”, Fr. Boyle settled, opened his heart to hear her, and offered this line about that experience.

“I had almost forgotten.  People are not interruptions.”

It is easy to forget people.

We live in world readily consumed with algorithms, busyness masquerading as effectiveness, thinness as connection.  Ministry is no different.  The pressing demands of running a church easily trump the more important work of being the church.  In other words, it is easy to forget and far easier to forget those broken. Easier to forget those who are already largely forgotten.

That is why Mary is one of my heroes.  She reminds me every few weeks, “What date works to got to Kensington?”, a place where we pass out lunches and visit with the homeless and addicted.

Even in winter.  Even in snow.

People are not interruptions.

 

 

So it is True?

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

We live in an age where the concept of “truth” is increasingly questioned in ways unimaginable a few decades go.  We truly are entering/ have entered a “post truth” era.

There are costs when all perspectives, however far fetched, are held as legitimate simply because someone holds them.  When all sources of news, of information become somehow equally valid.  When revelation, as it were, becomes a completely privatized, relativized affair.

For me, I enjoy my opinions frankly and I know enough to know I am often wrong, and therefore desperately need sources of truth outside of those cherished opinions.

For some things there are obviously many sides, many perspectives, many competing claims of truth as we see with the beautiful multitude of faith perspectives in the world.  For other arenas, like global warming, there are no legitimate counter facts.  Global warming is a fact, a truth.  How we handle it?  That is where a multitude of informed opinions can be brought to bear.

A cleaner division between truth and opinion remains worthy of deep human consideration.

Humility before the truth remains crucial to the human soul.