Friday, July 6, 2007

What if...

I've just finished feasting on Barbara Brown Taylor's 'Leaving Church,' and the following, from her book speaks deeply to where we find ourselves in the Communion.

...I will keep the cross, even though I am not sure that the symbol can survive its abuse. For me, it is a reminder of Jesus' willingness to risk everything for the love of God's little ones. The cross he died on reminds me that his Way is not a way of violence against his enemies or victory over those who do not believe in him, but the way of self-annihilating love for God and neighbor...

... If I had to name my disability, I would call it an unwillingness to fall. On the one hand, this is perfectly normal. I do not know anyone who likes to fall. But on the othe hand, this reluctance signals mistrust of the central truth of the Christian gospel: life springs from death, not only at the last but also in the many little deaths along the way. When everything you count on for protection has failed, the Divine Presence does not fail. The hands are still there... not promising to rescue, not promsing to intervene-
promising only to hold you no matter how far you fall. Ironically, those who try
hardest not to fall learn this later than those who topple more easily...

...For most of my adult life, what I have wanted most to win is
nearness to God...

...I thought that being faithful was about becoming someone other than who I was, in other words, and it was not until this project failed that I began to wonder if my human wholeness might be more useful to God than my exhuasting goodness...

...The good news of God in Christ is, 'You
have everything you need to be human. There is nothing outside of you that
you still need- no approval from the authorities, no attendance at temple,
no key truth hidden in the tenth chapter of some sacred book. In your life
right now, God has given you everything that you need to be human...

... While there are clearly many different
ways to be hmuan, and not all of them praiseworthy, it remains possible to
see Jesus not as the founder of a new religion, but as the exemplar of a new
way of being human- a new Adam in the language of the apostle Paul- who
lived and died with such an authentic faith in God that he gave his
followers the courage to try to do the same thing. For obvious reasons, they
could not sustain the alarming freedom for long, so they truned the faith of
Jesus into the religion about Jesus, and the rest is history...

...All these years later,the way many of us are doing church is broken and we know it, even if we do not know what to do about it. We proclaim the priesthood of all believers while we continue living with hierarchical clergy, liturgy, and architecture. We follow
a Lord who challenged the religious and political institutions of his time while we fund and defend our own. We speak and sing of divine transformation while we do everything in our power to maintain our equilibrium. If redeeming things continue to happen to us in spite of these deep contradictions in our life together, then I think that is because God is faithful even if we are not. When we are able to trust the gospel
that our human love of God and one another is the sum total of what we were put
on earth to do, and that we have everything we need to be human, then redeeming
things will continue to happen, both because and inspite of us. They will
happen because God loves life so much that even at the grave we
make our song Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia...

...All the church has ever needed to rise from the dead is memory, bread, wine and Holy Spirit... that, and care for the world that is at least equal to her care for her own preservation. Where church growth has eclipsed church depth, it is possible to to hear very little about the world except as a rival for the human resources needed by
the church for her own survival...

... If churches saw their mission in the same way, there is no telling what might happen. What if people were invited to come tell what they already know of God instead of to learn what they are supposed to believe? What is they were blessed for what they are doing in the world instead of chastened for not doing more at church? What if church felt more like a way station than a destination? What is the church's job was to move people out the door instead of trying to keep them in, by convincing them that God
needed them more in the world than in the church?

Just another example of the great blessings, insights and grace we have been blessed with since women claimed their ordained priestood withi the Church. Amen,

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