March 13, 2008
I am adjusting to early morning walks with our newly adopted one-year-old golden retriever called ‘Bo’ (short for Bollinger). Those walks often take place at 5:30 or 6:00, --a time to which I had become accustomed to using for prayer, reading and writing in this blog. I will get things sorted out, but apologize for making rather intermittent contributions in recent weeks.
Life keeps on going apace whether I write about it or not. Last weekend saw the conclusion of another series of adult enquirers’ classes and retreat. We continue to see people being drawn to our midst whose experience of ‘church’ in any denomination ranges from ‘deeply engaged’ to ‘complete neophyte’, the latter often being children of parents who rejected formal faith during their own adult lives. W may need to take another look at how we incorporate and form Christians of such widely differing experience. I don’t think this will be a matter of ‘tweaking’ (although what we do now is pretty good and is tweaked with every class), but something more fundamental, perhaps offering a more individual approach prior to the formal classes.
Some enquirers find themselves in a similar place to members of our vestry who spent some time at a recent meeting talking about what exactly we make of Jesus. Many interesting and helpful things were said including one idea that we all needed to develop something of an ‘elevator speech’ about why we are Christians in general and why we are Christians at All Saints’ in particular. This was tempered by the thought that it is not easy to answer ‘why’ in a short or simple way and that it should not be. Part of the answer to ‘why’ is that we tend not to oversimplify the faith and so honor the majesty of God. What was difficult for enquirers and vestry alike was identifying and sharing real experiences of God’s grace.
Last night I was able to ask the participants in various GIFT groups to see how they did with that tasks as we wrapped up what has become a Lenten series on death (changing attitudes to death, the place of death in creation, the temptations of Jesus as temptation sot deny death, death as metaphor, death in the natural world and the like.) If there could be said to be a conclusion to that series it was this: that much of what passes for faith is really a denial of the reality of death and that until we really acknowledge our finitude in light of real death, we will not be able to find real faith in both the continuity and the radical novelty in the sheer grace of resurrection. This is not unlike being able to acknowledge really, specifically and in fact our own sin, brokenness, need of healing and so on in order to know really the sheer gratuity of God’s love and have Good news to share. What do you think of that?