Friday, August 16, 2002

Spirit, Church

The Holy Spirit calls the Church to proclamation in word and in deed—proclamation by its very presence in the world. This kerygma is the announcement of the death of the old order, the resurrection of the new order from the ashes of the old, in the Person and Work of Jesus the Christ, most definitively in his death and resurrection. The Church is the Spirit-indwelt Body of Christ, the baptized People of God, marked with the Sign of the Cross and the Sign of the Empty Tomb, surrendered by human family, embraced by God, set free from sin, death and the devil, and fully incorporated into a new family, the whole people of God. The Spirit calls Christians to be a servant people. In serving others, we serve the Christ, the Christ whose presence – like the presence of both the Spirit and the Creator – is both hidden and manifest in all of physical creation, in all of human life and human history.

A paraphrase from I And Thou:"Once upon a time," tells the Brahmana of a thousand paths, "the gods and the demons were at strife. They asked, 'To whom shall we bring our gifts?' The demons set their gifts in their own mouths. The gods set their gifts in each other's mouths. Then Prajapati, the Primal Spirit, gave himself to the gods."

Like Israel, the Church has sociological, economic, psychological, religious, spiritual and political implications, as well as a few more I can’t think of right here and now.

I didn't suggest, imply or claim that everyone was a Christian! Only that the reconciliation of the world, of all creation, in the Christ Event was for everyone, whether or not they "accepted" it or were consciously aware of it. It’s so telling that in Acts 7 Stephen proclaims universal salvation in the context of the history of God;s people, Israel. And the prophets whose words we have in the Hebrew Bible also proclaimed Israel's God as God of all.

Nor did I say there was "nothing beyond the received tradition of Christianity." Although I'm convinced there is no "beyond the received tradition," I tried to say I consider Christianity ultimate but I also said other traditions, styles, experiences and understandings can enhance, compliment and complement Christianity. I'd especially encourage learning about and experiencing other world religions or some of the more local, indigenous ones. Our received tradition is about Israel's God, the Bible's God and Jesus' God. It’s about "this baby named 'Save'" [Walter Brueggemann]. It's about promise, covenant, Word and history. Grace, love, fidelity and freedom. About the God Who chooses a people, calls out a people and sojourned with his people, ultimately living among the people as one of the people. About the God Who demands to be our only God, the only God worthy of being our only God. God of Good Friday and God of Easter.

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