Wednesday, September 11, 2019

3 articles on traditioned innovation from Faith and Leadership


A way of thinking and being that holds the past and future in tension, not in opposition, is crucial to the growth and vitality of Christian institutions. L. Gregory Jones explains the phrase he coined.
Monday, January 19, 2009
The church is stuck in a war between “We’ve always done it that way” and “The future is about leading change.”
Consider worship. In response to those ritual fundamentalists who insisted that nothing (especially music) change, innovators created “contemporary” worship services. But those services became so unfamiliar that people now long for opportunities to sing the “old familiar” contemporary songs, such as “Lord, I Lift your Name on High.”
In businesses and other organizations, including Christian ones, the traditionalists are so stuck in their ways that they drive reasonable people toward change for its own sake. People obsessed with change create such chaos that reasonable people long for some form of stability. And so the pendulum swings between traditionalist strategies and innovative ones, causing organizations and leaders, people and cultures, to suffer.
It is a return to Christian thinking that offers the best way forward.
A colleague and friend who studies social entrepreneurship helped me come to this conclusion. He wondered why, over the course of the last couple of centuries in America, the best socially entrepreneurial organizations had consistently been faith-based, especially if they developed significant scale and scope. He had in mind organizations such as Goodwill, Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity. He was thinking of faith-based hospitals, schools and, more recently, hospice organizations. Only in the last 25 years, he noted, had social entrepreneurship become relatively secular. What has happened in the church?
His question got me reading about social entrepreneurship, a relatively new area of scholarship and study in business schools. Amid a lot of ideas that had Christian resonance, I was struck by an emerging debate about “newness.” Can an existing organization do social entrepreneurship, or does it always require a new structure? It seemed to be a misplaced debate to me -- after all, Christian organizations and churches have long engaged in innovation within our existing structures. We have typically called it bearing witness to the Holy Spirit, the One who is “making all things new.”
Christian leaders are called to a particular type of social entrepreneurship -- one that does not force us to choose preserving tradition or leading change, but thinking about them together. We are called to “traditioned innovation” as a pattern of thinking, bearing witness to the Holy Spirit who is conforming us to Christ. I asked a New Testament scholar what came to mind when he heard that phrase. He said, “The New Testament. Indeed, the whole of Scripture.” The best way to interpret the book of Acts, or Paul’s account of Sarah and Hagar in Galatians, is a process of discernment rooted in traditioned innovation. How do we integrate the transformative work of Christ into our ongoing identity as the people of God rooted in biblical Israel’s calling?
In our thinking as well as our living, we are oriented toward our end, our telos: bearing witness to the reign of God. That is what compels innovation. But our end is also our beginning, because we are called to bear witness to the redemptive work of Christ who is the Word that created the world. We are the carriers of that which has gone before us so we can bear witness faithfully to the future.
Tradition is fundamentally different from traditionalism. Jaroslav Pelikan, in “The Vindication of Tradition,” characterized the difference when he wrote, “Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.” People who bear a tradition are called to be relentlessly innovative in ways that preserve the life-giving character of the tradition.
We need not rely only on patterns within Scripture, or even the practices of the church, however, to appreciate the significance of traditioned innovation as a way of thinking. Biologists such as Marc Kirschner and John Gerhart, in their “The Plausibility of Life,” have compellingly argued that organisms must preserve significant features of their processes while changing others. A great surprise of modern biology, they suggest, has been how important conservation is to the process of adaptive change.
So also with institutions. We do not need radical change. The task of transformative leadership is not simply to “lead change.” Transformative leaders know what to preserve as well as what to change. We need to conserve wisdom even as we explore risk-taking mission and service. Too much change creates chaos. Transformative change, rooted in tradition and the preservation of wisdom, cultivates the adaptive work that is crucial to the ongoing vitality and growth of any organism, Christian institutions included.
Sometimes that will mean we innovate within existing institutions; at other times we will allow some forms to die so that other ones can rise up in their place. And at still other times we will give birth to new forms to address challenges and opportunities. But even our most dramatic transformations ought to be tethered to our most life-giving past.
There are few things we have “always” done in any particular way, and there are even fewer things that we want “always” to change. Perhaps we can do better than a cease-fire in these culture wars. Instead, transformative leaders should adopt traditioned innovation as a pattern of thinking that will help cultivate thriving communities. It would be a welcome change.
Dean, Duke Divinity School

Mural of Nelson Mandela in Brooklyn
Understanding the New Testament requires grounding in the tradition of the Old Testament. The book of Leviticus and the Sermon on the Mount illustrate that the New is the fulfillment of the Old, writes C. Kavin Rowe.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Few ideas are more incorrect in popular Christian thinking than the belief that the New Testament essentially renders the Old Testament unnecessary. To be sure, it’s not usually said straight out like this. But one nevertheless can see it clearly in the common idea that the God of the Old Testament is somehow different from the God of the New (wrath vs. grace), or in vague charges of legalism slung at those who try to obey some of the Old Testament commandments, or -- most prominently -- in the overall failure of Christian churches to read and preach from the Old Testament on a regular basis.
In a way, these problems are understandable. Reading the Old Testament is hard work for Christians. And many leaders have much else on their plate. Still, it is literally inconceivable that the New Testament can be well understood without the Old, or that Christians could develop the depth of theological leadership we need without understanding the most basic relation between the Old and New Testaments. The New depends upon the theological traditions of the Old for its innovation. The innovation, that is to say, is not against its preceding tradition but is a fulfillment of that tradition -- even as it reorganizes the tradition’s theological purpose around the person of Jesus Christ.
Of the manifold ways in which we could show how traditioned innovation names well the relation of the Old and New Testaments, we will focus on only two: the book of Leviticus and the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew.
First, Leviticus: Contrary to our initial impressions of an overly precise or even burdensome legal code, the book of Leviticus is at its heart missionary theology. It displays the intricate patterns of life that constitute the Jewish people, that mark them off from the non-Jews and, therefore, allow them to witness by their practices to their election by the God of Israel. Leviticus was, in short, a gift from God to shape the Jews into his people.
To realize that Leviticus was the fundament of Jewish practice and not casuistic prattle -- as so many Christians now cannot help but to take it -- is to become astonished at the almost complete absence of these kind of legal regulations in the New Testament, most especially those concerning the sacrificial cult (such as the different kinds of sacrifices we need to make, when to make them, with what animals and for what sins). Indeed, with the exception of the theology of Hebrews, and aside from a few oblique references to sacrifice, the entire sacrificial cult is missing from the pages of the New Testament. On one level, of course, the New Testament authors simply assumed the importance of the Temple and its practices, as did Jesus himself (think, for example, of the beginning and end of the Gospel of Luke where there is a marked emphasis on the Jerusalem Temple). On another level, however, Jesus’ death is interpreted as the “once for all” sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10), thereby implying that the entire cult was in a sense oriented toward this one death. Sin offerings no longer are necessary because, as the Gospel of John puts it, Jesus is the Lamb whose death takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
On the face of it, there is nothing in the intricacies of Leviticus, or anywhere else in the vast sprawl of the Old Testament, that could prepare for this. It is, quite simply, new.
Moreover, in Pauline theology and elsewhere in the New Testament (such as the book of Acts), the practice of the Law (Torah) no longer constitutes the primary socio-political or cultural boundary marker between Jews and non-Jews. Rather, being a disciple of Jesus Christ -- which of course entails joining the community that takes his name -- is the requisite criterion that now marks the people of God. Thus, in a twofold and profound sense, Jesus radically exceeds the Old Testament’s immediate theological range envisioned by the practice of Torah.
And yet the New Testament also claims that Jesus fulfills the Law and that there is no fundamental break with Jewish tradition. The transformation of Torah hence is tied more deeply to a unity in the purpose of God: to create a people who would be the light to the nations and thereby provoke them to worship the one true God. The same divine purpose that was at work in the giving of Leviticus has crystallized in Jesus. He is, as Luke formulates it both in his Gospel and in Acts, the light to the Gentiles. In Jesus Christ and the community that is gathered around its devotion to him, the moment for which Torah was given and exists has arrived. Jesus Christ, as Paul says, is the telos of the Law (Romans 10:4). In this case, drastic innovation discloses the inner logic and fullness of tradition.
Second, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7): It is often thought that the six antitheses of the Sermon on the Mount provide examples of Jesus’ opposition to the Jewish law. In this common reading, “You have heard it said” is the tradition from which Jesus’ innovative “But I say to you” cleanly breaks. But this is simply false. It was not against the Law to require more than the Law itself required. In fact, nothing Jesus says runs contrary to the Torah in its written or oral traditions. What then is he doing? Matthew tells us explicitly just prior to the antitheses: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). The antitheses, then, actually are instances of fulfillment of the Law.
Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount is paradigmatic for thinking about the link between a living tradition and the innovation necessary to keep it alive. Jesus discerned that the existing tradition (“you have heard it said”) was insufficient to the task at hand; the time had changed and the tradition as it presently stood no longer resulted in the formation of “righteous” people (“righteous/ness” is shorthand in Matthew for a life of discipleship in the kingdom; 5:20). What was needed in this new time -- the “Kingdom of Heaven” in Matthean parlance -- was a move into a more radical mode of life. Only so could the tradition stay in step with the telos to which it was oriented: thus “fulfillment” in Matthew means the way in which Jesus innovatively and faithfully extends Jewish tradition to accord with the change of the times -- the advent of the Kingdom of Heaven.
By being both innovative and faithful to tradition, we follow the pattern of the creating and redeeming God of Scripture, writes C. Kavin Rowe.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Churches, schools, businesses, families -- all areas of human life -- face the question of how to live toward the future in light of the past. Leaders will live out their answer to this question by the way they conceive of the world. Inevitably some will say “everything must change” and others,  that “things ought to be done as they always have been.” But neither is a real or even desirable option, for the world in which these pronouncements make sense does not exist.
Considered theologically, the future and the past belong together, tradition and innovation hand in hand. Traditioned innovation is a way of thinking and living that points toward the future in light of the past, a habit of being that requires both a deep fidelity to the tradition that has borne us to the present and a radical openness to the innovations that will carry us forward. Traditioned innovation names an inner-biblical way of thinking theologically about the texture of human life in the context of God’s gracious and redemptive self-disclosure.
The Bible is a vast, sprawling book replete with countless winding trails. Navigating its story is best done with a compass whose points are creation, fall, election, redemption and consummation -- the theological framework in which traditioned innovation gets its meaning.
Creation: Creation is the original innovation. God begins the world’s life out of nothing. Creation is thus the moment of givenness, that which provides the “tradition” upon which all human innovation is founded and dependent -- the giving of life by God. We cannot make ourselves. In the face of modern claims to self-autonomy, self-made people, radical freedom from limits and the like, the book of Genesis lays bare the fact that we are always preceded. All human endeavors enter the world in a context of a fundamentally prior reality. In this sense, failure to attend to the traditions that come before us and shape us is a failure to acknowledge the depth of our dependency as created beings.
The flight from givenness inevitably involves wreckage because it wipes away an essential feature of what it means to be human. The attempt at “pure innovation,” the doing away with all tradition, is ultimately an inhuman and impossible endeavor, one that shapes its practitioners and victims alike into something far less than human beings were created to be. Pure innovation simultaneously negates the givenness that underwrites human existence as such -- the fact that we are here at all, rather than not -- and the ethical demand of this givenness: the need to recognize our historically and materially deep ties to all created life. From first to last, human beings are tradition-dependent.
Fall: The narrative in Genesis of the fall powerfully illustrates that the givenness of creation is no longer simply good. It has become fractured by our refusal to acknowledge our ultimate dependency on the world God made and our attempt to become self-made creatures -- as the Bible puts it, “to know as God knows.” Recognizing the destruction that occurs when we deny our embeddedness in created life should cause us to be wary of attempts to dispense with everything in the past (regardless of the particular shape or kind of institution). “Everything” cannot change. We cannot rid ourselves of the world.
And yet, the fall also points directly to the necessity of innovation. Tradition is no longer sufficiently sustaining in itself. We cannot simply declare, in imitation of God’s view of original creation, “this is good.” And, therefore, we cannot fully rest. We must toil and move on. The character of fallen creation forces us to improvise, to try to move again within the goodness of God’s originating purpose. Innovation thus becomes a necessary way of life in a world of sin and shortcoming, of brokenness and the need for new life. Adam and Eve must make their way outside the garden.
Election: The election of Abraham illustrates paradigmatically how God responds to the way we have marred the goodness of the gift. Instead of destroying his creation, we can see God’s overarching response in the Old Testament in the calling of a people whose vocation is at once to embody the enduring goodness of the gift and to testify to the universal need for redemption. God does not, that is, simply scrap the world and make it all over again. Rather, God innovates. He responds to the brokenness of the world with a creative, new act -- indeed, one that could not, at least on the face of it, have been anticipated from the primeval history in Genesis.
This divine pattern of innovation on the basis of tradition is repeated throughout the Old Testament, perhaps most apparently in the giving of the Torah (Law). The Torah is the defining feature of Israel’s life. Israel would be indistinguishable from the nations without it. But this does not mean that the Law was seen as a static deposit of rules -- a kind of inflexible, unworkable and ultimately unlivable way of life. To the contrary, the mere existence of the book of Deuteronomy -- the name literally means the “second law” -- presses the point that to know the Law rightly is to grasp its fecundity for new situations. The Torah is living tradition. As even the author of Lamentations might have put it, the Law is not only tradition from of old. It is also new every morning.
Redemption: To think about redemption in the biblical sense is to see that this divine pattern of “newness without completely throwing away the old” culminates in Jesus Christ. According to the New Testament, God recreates the world in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Those who live in the pattern of life made possible by this death and resurrection participate most fully in the newness of the world. Whoever is in Christ, says Paul, is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In Christ, that is, the innovation of God is at its peak. In Christ, he remakes the foundations of human life in the very midst of the ongoing, long-running and everyday traditions of the world.
Yet the discontinuity -- the creation of a new world -- includes, rather than excludes, a continuity with what preceded Jesus. The Law and the Prophets testify to the coming of the Christ, even as that coming itself provides a new foundation on which the life promised by the Law and Prophets ultimately depends. Christ is not the “end (telos) of the Law” (Romans 10:4) in the sense of terminating it or displacing its reality, but is instead the deepest purpose or goal (telos) of the Law, that toward which it points or strives. In short, new creation does not abrogate the old but takes it up inside the new and in so doing remakes it. Tradition literally is made new on the basis of God’s innovation.
Focusing on redemption thus discloses a productive tension that marks all life until the end. To remain in what is already known of the tradition is to refuse the priority of new creation; and yet, that which is new includes the old. Radical innovation? Yes. Radical continuity with tradition? Yes.
Consummation: Consummation points to the hope that creation and redemption will finally coincide, that the world’s traditions will, as it were, catch up with the reality of a cosmos remade -- that God’s founding innovation and tradition will be one with his most radical innovation in Jesus Christ.
Thinking about traditioned innovation in light of the hope of consummation shows that tradition and innovation are not finally two different ways of being in the world. They are instead a helpful way to speak about the fundamental manner in which the Triune God graciously relates to the world he made and to which, in the face of its profound brokenness, he remains everlastingly committed -- anew. We cannot think, therefore, that tradition and innovation are opposites. In the Bible, tradition and innovation are realities of our common human life, inseparable aspects of participating in the world God made and is redeeming. Tradition and innovation go together in the divine purpose that leads toward the final restoration of God’s good creation.
To the extent that we both remain faithful to tradition and innovate -- even radically -- we will follow the pattern of the creating and redeeming God of Scripture, and will, therefore, flourish. This is not to say that the flourishing of human life will be apparent immediately to us in the present. After all, flourishing in the biblical sense is frequently counterintuitive. Israel wandered for 40 years in the desert, Moses never made it to the promised land and Jesus was killed -- to take only a few striking examples. But it is to say that the underlying and ultimate purpose to which our lives will be oriented will be in harmony with the work of the God of the Bible.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

In memory of Chris Nunn, friend and fisherman

Dearly Beloved mother, children, and friends of my friend Chris Nunn. It grieves me not to be present with you as Chris was a friend who deserves the highest possible honors and the greatest measure of respect. He would understand, as I hope you do also, that my prior commitment to preside at a wedding has to be precedence.
Chris taught me a lot about fishing and hunting, and every time I wade into the Au Sable or some other stream I am listening in my head to his running commentary on water conditions, what bugs are hatching, or some fish he had caught in that particular spot at some time in the past. Sometimes I could barely believe what he was saying- like the time he took me on a back road somewhere Up North and stopped his truck at a place where a small stream ran under the road through a metal culvert about 8 feet in diameter. Chris put a night crawler on a small hook at the end of my line and told me to let it drift down stream into the darkness under the road. Of course, within a few seconds I had caught a 9” brook trout.
How had Chris discovered this unlikely fishing spot? It seems he spent every waking moment on the lookout for places where brook trout, or pheasants, or grouse, or steelhead might congregate, places no one else would ever dream of.
Another such place was on the Black River, where Chris took his Dad and I one winter day in search of steelhead. Chris parked by a sign that read, “No trespassing. No Fishing.” “Don’t worry,” Chris assured us before heading off through the woods, “I know the guy”. Larry and I set off on a different path, looking for a place to access the river. After we had walked awhile a stranger came running through the woods behind us. “You guys are under arrest for trespassing and resisting arrest.” Resisting arrest? Larry explained that his son “knew the guy”, and the man said, “I AM ‘the guy’, and I have given permission to no one.” I guess he realized we were harmless because all he did was walk us back to the truck and then drive away. When Chris emerged from the woods he said, “what was all that about?” We told him it was part of his plan to get his father and his priest locked up.
That wasn’t really a plan on his part, but he DID try to pull a trick on Larry and the other old time hunters on opening day of pheasant season a number of years ago. On the night before opening day he called to tell me that he had purchased some farm-raised pheasants and released them in the field where we would be hunting the next morning. “Don’t tell my dad,” he said, “I want to hear what they have to say about “the birds are coming back almost like they used to be in the 1940’s”. Sure enough, the next morning the dogs were flushing an unusual number of pheasants as we walked across the field, and Larry was commenting about it and making reference to 1941 or 1942 when a pheasant flushed right in front of us, but before either Larry or I could raise our guns the dog jumped up and caught the bird in his mouth! “That is not a wild bird, “ Larry announced, “Chris, did you put tame pheasants in this field”? So the truth was out.
So Chris taught me a lot about hunting and fishing, but he also taught me about heaven. I don’t mean a place up in the sky, but as in “thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” I mean when life is as it should be, and the walls that separate us are finally broken down. It seems Chris was always trying to organize the most epic of all fishing trips, an expedition to the most perfect fishing spot involving all the people he liked to fish with. One such place he talked about was a nameless stream somewhere in Canada where, he said, we would hitch a ride on a freight train through the wilderness and have them stop the train to let us off beside a bend in that stream, and we would camp there and fish for days until the train came back. “Jon”, he said with intense conviction, “those brook trout are 18” long!” That trip was too ambitious and too long for me to undertake, but I have formed a mental image of that place, where the brook trout are huge and a river runs through it. Now, of course, my mental image includes Chris, stirring up the campfire and watching for the rest of us to arrive. Larry is already there with him.
We don’t have to search for that place in the wilds of Canada because we are already there. In one place in his writings St. Paul wrote, “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Neither height nor depth, time nor eternity, sickness nor even death can separate us from the love that Chris made known to us as a parent, a son, an outdoorsman, and a friend.
Thanks for letting me be a part of your gathering today. “Into your hands, O Lord, we commend your servant Chris. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.”

Sent from my iPad

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Archbishop’s sermon to Anglicans in Zimbabwe

So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find.'
'When it happens, everyone will say, He is our God! We have put our trust in him, and he has rescued us.'
Jesus' parable of the great marriage feast is both one of the most joyful and one of the most challenging of his stories; and it speaks very directly to us as we gather here today. It begins with the picture of a great monarch who wants nothing but to invite people freely to feast with him. He has made all the preparations; there is enough for everyone to eat; he wants his guests to be joyful and fulfilled – in body and spirit!
And then the responses begin to arrive. One after another, the guests he wishes to honour find excuses for not accepting his generosity. They are too occupied with their own private interests to come and share a great public celebration. And so the king throws the doors open and invites anyone and everyone who is willing to come – anyone who is hungry enough to walk through the door, anyone who is eager enough for happiness and welcome to come and enjoy it. All the king wants is that his gifts should be received and that they should create joy.
Our God is a God who wants us to receive what he gives. He pours out his gifts in the world – the gifts of natural resources, the gifts of human skill, the gifts of human love and understanding – and he invites us to use them so that together we may find joy, together we may grow to maturity, together we may be glad and grateful for each other. His purpose is justice: not an abstract idea of fairness, but a situation where every person has the fulfilment God desires for them, without interference from others who want – in Jesus' own words – to shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against them. 'You lock the door to the Kingdom of Heaven in people's faces, and you yourselves don't go in, nor do you allow those who are trying to enter!' says Jesus to his enemies in Mt 23.12.
Because this is part of our problem. It is not only that some refuse the invitation of God to share his abundant love and generosity. It is all too easy for us human beings to try and block that love and prevent it from reaching others. You know very well, dear brothers and sisters, what it means to have doors locked in your faces by those who claim the name of Christians and Anglicans. You know how those who by their greed and violence have refused the grace of God try to silence your worship and frustrate your witness in the churches and schools and hospitals of this country. But you also know what Jesus' parable teaches us so powerfully – that the will of God to invite people to his feast is so strong that it can triumph even over these mindless and Godless assaults. Just as the Risen Jesus breaks through the locked doors of fear and suspicion, so he continues to call you and empower you in spite of all efforts to defeat you. And in the Revelation to John, the Lord proclaims that he has set before us an open door that no-one can shut. It is the door of his promise, the door of his mercy, the door into the feast of his Kingdom.
In your faith and endurance, you have kept your eyes on that open door when the doors of your own churches have been shut against you. You have discovered that it is not the buildings that make a true church but the spiritual foundations on which your lives are built. And as we together give thanks for the open door that God puts before us, we may even find the strength to say to our enemies and persecutors, 'The door is open for you! Accept what God offers and turn away from the death-dealing folly of violence.'
There is the message that the Church of God exists to announce. God has poured out his gifts in abundance: why must we human beings wreck and spoil these gifts by our sinfulness? God has given us the promise and hope of his mercy in Jesus Christ: why is it so hard to admit mistakes and sins? How strange it is that we so often behave – yes, even we who are Christians – as though we cannot survive unless we silence all voices of challenge or criticism. And God has given so many gifts to this land. It has the capacity to feed all its people and more. Its mineral wealth is great.
But we have seen years in which the land has not been used to feed people and lies idle; and we have begun to see how this mineral wealth can become a curse – as it so often has been in Africa, as people are killed and communities destroyed in the fight for diamonds that will forever be marked with the blood of the innocent. A few months ago I was in Congo and saw and heard some of the tragedies that arose out of a war fuelled by greed for minerals. Can we hear the voice of our Creator crying to us - like the blood of Abel 'out of the ground' itself – 'Why will you turn my gifts into an excuse for bloodshed? Why will you not use what you have for the good of a community, not for private gain or political advantage?'
Of course, to say this is at once to recognize that it was just this natural wealth that provoked the greed of colonists and imperialists in the past. No European can say these things without being aware of what one of my predecessors, Michael Ramsey, once said about 'the debt we owe to Africa' after generations of white rule. For a long period in this country, an anxious ruling class clung on to the power they had seized at the expense of the indigenous people and ignored their rights and their hopes for dignity and political freedom. How tragic that this should be replaced by another kind of lawlessness, where so many live in daily fear of attack if they fail to comply with what the powerful require of them. As we together give thanks for the gifts of nature that God has given us and the gifts of solidarity and the gift of freedom from foreign exploitation, can we stand together to say to all our political leaders and rulers, 'Listen! Not only to the voice of those who suffer but to the voice of God himself, grieving over the way we ruin his creation, the voice of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, longing for his people to open their hearts to justice and peace and mercy.'
This Eucharist is the sign of God's purpose for all of us; it is a feast in which all are fed with Christ's new life, in which there is no distinction of race, tribe or party. In this community there can be no place for violence or for retaliation: we stand together, sinners in need of grace, proclaiming to the world that there is room at God's table for all people equally. What the Church has to say to the society around it, whether here or in Britain, is not to advance a political programme but to point to the fact of this new creation, this fellowship of justice and joy, this universal feast. It is on the basis of this vision that we urge all people to say no to violence, especially as the next election approaches in this country; to discover that deep reverence for each person that absolutely forbids us from treating them as if their welfare did not matter, from abusing and attacking them.
The message we want to send from this Eucharistic celebration is that we do not have to live like that – in terror, in bloodshed. God has given us another way. He has opened a door of possibility that no-one can shut. He has announced that he will welcome all to the marriage feast of his Son – and so we see that all, even our bitterest enemies, still have a place in his peace if they will only turn and be saved. Did you hear what St Paul said in today's epistle? 'Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are noble, right, pure, lovely and honourable.' We need to feed ourselves and most especially to feed our young people with such things, to hold before us that great new possibility opened up by God for our minds to be transformed, to be excited not by the false thrills of violence and bloody conflict, by the overheated language of party conflict, but by the hope of joy and reconciliation.
And this also lays upon us the duty to keep alive our own concern for those lest able to help themselves. The Church of God is – or should be – the great hope of the poor; not just as a source of material help, important as that is, but as a source of hope and a guarantee of human dignity. The Church could not exist with any integrity if it forgot that every person is of immeasurable value in God's eyes and so immeasurably worthy of our attention and service. In this country in recent years, you, our Anglican brothers and sisters, have been more and more active and courageous in this practical service, and in reminding the whole society of the universal dignity that the gospel implies. You have also been faithful to those who suffer from the HIV pandemic, which has ravaged a whole generation; and, like Christians elsewhere in Africa, you have been at the forefront of challenging the stigma that can make the suffering so much more bitter and can prevent people from facing the problem honestly. You know that the truth will make you free. To tell the truth about the sufferings and fears people endure, but also to tell the truth about their value in the sight of God – this is the most effective way of banishing stigma and prejudice and superstition.
Dear friend in Christ, you have given so much to the Church worldwide and to your neighbours in this great and troubled country. Day by day, you have to face injustice and the arrogance of 'false brethren' as St Paul would call them. You must often have prayed with the Psalmist, 'We have been treated with so much contempt. We have been mocked too long by the rich and scorned by proud oppressors' (Ps 123.3-4). Yet you must know that we give thanks to God for you – for your patience and generosity and endurance. Your life here is tortured by uncertainty and the constant risk of attack, yet it speaks to all of us in the worldwide Communion of the victory of Jesus Christ and the undefeated will of God to welcome people into his Kingdom and to seat them at the table of his Son so that we can celebrate the marriage of heaven and earth in the fleshly life and death and resurrection of the Lord. 'We have put our trust in him and he has rescued us.' Today we are able to enjoy a foretaste of that rescue and that heavenly feast in the Eucharist. And the free invitation of God to be reconciled and healed, to leave behind the paths of violence and injustice, is once again spoken out as we gather – spoken out to this country and to the whole world. What can we say or pray except to cry out with Our Lord, 'Whoever has ears, let them hear!'

Friday, March 30, 2018

Poem...Maundy Thursday, 2013

Maundy Thursday

Eucharistic night
Occasion of blessing
Upper Room
Impending doom.

Sacred meal
Washed feet
Word spoken
Circle broken.

You who with Jesus
Make anamnesis
Remember the future
Now is the past.

The Father’s humility
Jesus’ affinity
Body’s reality
Divine hospitality.

The Ark has been opened
The Commandments refined
Love is your mandate
Red is the wine.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Notes on Mike Kinman at “Epiphany Series”02/21/2018

Mike Kinman at “Epiphany Series” Feb 21 2018

“Capitalism is the dominant religion in America”. For churches and other organizations fixed costs go up, staffs shrink, and work loads expand to keep “production” at the same level. Looks a lot like enslavement. Require  church staff to observe a “sabbath”. Begin meetings w 2 minutes of silence. 

Richard Rohr: 4 evolutionary stages of organizations
Man-a visionary who draws others
Movement-inspires intense energy and commitment 
Machine-institutionalized supports intended to maintain the movement
Monument-energy shifts to maintaining the machine 

Added “M”- Mausoleum- the edifice is all that remains of the Movement

Examples of “returning to the Movement” - “Do we believe in a God who is continually breaking into history?”- 
Thistle Farms- “a combination of Benedictine norms and 12 Step spirituality”
Black Lives Matter- “I met Jesus there...”
Signs- “I wept more. I laughed more. I was more confused. I struggled more.”

The institutional church can discourage “movement” thinking because we are accountable to people w deep roots in the Machine.
Think of “church” as more than the institution... “The Beloved Community” does not reject the Machine...ideas of Josiah Royce, and WEB DuBois developed by Howard Thurmond and MLK in a theological direction...”the highest and common good... which calls forth an unshakable confidence because it is God who will ultimately accomplish it.” Trap of progressives in general: no theology/spirituality to sustain it.

Resistance from the Machine
Be sympathetic: you have been to “Ghana” while they stayed home in the Machine.
Use theology: creation...”you are made good/ in the image of God. Often “in disguise” (Hays Rockwell) nothing can deprive you of your essential goodness. Whites often react with shame. Adam and Eve were “naked and unashamed”. At The Fall they didn’t so much become bad as they did become ashamed.
Guilt= “I did something bad”
Shame= “I am bad.”  (Brene Brown)
No need. To wallow in guilt because of whiteness or work in a corrupt system. Trust your beloved ness. (Me-I am an idiot. But a beloved idiot.)
In Egypt the people forgot their belovedness. Exodus 3:7-8 “The Lord said “I have observed...”. What do we observe...?

Theology...creation/image of God/liberation from slavery/incarnation

In Ferguson interfaith Group did not “lead” or even attempt to “influence”. Took off clerical garb and went out “to meet Jesus”. 
Question ourselves: how are we Monuments? How are we Mausoleums? Cultivate courage to challenge our dependence on the Machine. Build a network of support...that’s what “keeps you off the streets”. To decline to do what you believe Jesus is calling you to do is soul killing.

“Despoil the Egyptians”. The Machine provides “cover” (my words). Outside users of church property are not “guests” they are part of the mission.  The church is not our possession. Reduce “us/them” and create just “us”. 

In a Theology of Abundance power is not in limited supply. In the Eucharistic model the power of Christ is limitless. Everyone contributes to the holy mess and everyone receives back a piece of everybody else transformed. 
It’s ok when people opt out. Continue in relationship/prayer. Reconciliation does not mean “they change and agree with me.” We are all transformed. 
Faith= “ voluntarily show up and do something incredibly difficult in the hope of transformation.” 
Church responds well to crises but not when it becomes chronic. (Me: the crises becomes chronic...all of ministry and theology tries to translate the chronic into the crises. “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again”= “Christ is a crises. Christ is chronic. Now what?” Don’t blame Mike Kinman for that one. It’s mine, and a work in progress/dumb idea?

Stop defining The Church by avg. Sunday attendance! Church is the Movement, which needs “freedom fighters” not “allies”. 
Radical Reconciliation- book by Allan Boesak and Curtiss DeYoung ...reconciliation not being “nice” not an agreement to overlook difference. Means exchange places with the other. Establish commonality and solidarity with the other. Overcome alienation and replaces with identification. All are transformed.
We come to see the other’s dead children as our own. Feel it. Let the oppressed define what solidarity looks like. Radical welcome=your life is bound up in mine. “Recognize each new person changes us for the better.”
In church life “lift expectations/provide resources/accountability. “Everybody is struggling with something; everybody is beloved”...creates a bond.

“Create a space to receive belovedness”