April 24, 2009
Following a conversation about afterlife (see previous entry), Marcus Borg led my colleague group into a new question. “If Christianity isn’t about the afterlife, what’s our product?” he asked. He was quick to make clear that he wasn’t talking so much about things like a place to celebrate transitions in life and great music; or a place to be formed by God in the midst of community and the like. He was really asking what we believe to be our core message. What is it that we are proclaiming? Since then I have been thinking that one way of putting our core message is: “that you may have life and have it abundantly”. The story that bears the message is the story of Jesus (which is told in relation to the stories of Israel and the Church).
Why should anyone align themselves with All Saints’, Atlanta? Because we are a community who are laying claim to the promise of real, fulfilling and abundant life through discovering that our path is the path of Jesus; the path of absolute integrity and right relationship as gifts from God; the path of dying to self that we may know life; the path of discovering that it is in giving that we receive and in service that we find freedom; the path on which we learn that there is no ultimate abundance for us unless there is also abundance for everyone.
There is some danger with any such summary of the message. It is all too easy to sound a bit like ‘a spa for the soul’ or ‘the Church of Abundant Life’ or something associated with the prosperity gospel. Nonetheless, as a ‘core message’, or summary, I think it works pretty well.