Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Reformation Stuff

Here's some of what I'd emphasize:

First, we Protestants also affirm tradition, and a person or a people without history and tradition is a no-one. Did you ever see the play, Conversations with my Father? If not, check it out!

I'll begin with the UCC Free Pulpit Statement:

"Freedom of the pulpit in matters of faith and morals, according to the dictates of the Word of God, the work of the Holy Spirit, the traditions of the UCC, and the realities of the world."

You can point out the UCC's "traditions" go back as far as those of the Church at Rome, and until the Continental European Reformation included the same ones. And, of course, the traditions of the UCC probably are the broadest, most varied and most diverse of any denomination anywhere. :)

Our Protestant (I currently like a capital "P") traditions include those of worship – especially the TWO sacraments – scriptural interpretation, biblical and systematic theology, social activism, political activism: just as the Roman branch of the Church also affirms and celebrates traditions in all of those areas.

Agreed there are differences between the late medieval Roman Catholic Church that so appalled Luther and the other Reformers and today's RCC – and agreed there've been times we church bodies that evolved from the Reformation haven't always kept faith with the promise and intent to continue re-forming!

In losing the Word, the late medieval church had lost the essence and the sense of the sacraments, just as today there are some churches that have "lost" the sacraments, thereby losing the Word's essence. Part of the Reformers' – esp Calvin and Luther – spirit and genius was their insistence on always holding Word and Sacrament together in tandem and in tension.

Mike, I keep returning to Scripture...

From "In the beginning, God..." to "...'I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" the biblical witness reveals God's passion for creation, for creation's needs, healing, redemption, completion and wholeness = holiness.

The Bible – and supremely Jesus – are about the outrage of a Holy, Transcendent Other who actively reveals himself in the nitty-gritty (remember "nitty-gritty?") of everyday, earthbound human history. Clarence Hilliard says we gotta become like "the funky Black nigger Jesus," (remember "funky?") who even took part in human death and dying, just like us, so our first death of baptism into Jesus' death would not only cancel our second death but also transform it, since that baptism's also into Jesus' resurrection.

One of my primary points is that the sacraments not only point toward the saving Christ Event and in a sense replicate it; the sacraments also model or image and are microcosms for us of the way God continues acting and working and being in our world, in our human history, within the medium/milieu we know best, the everyday life in which we live and breathe, suffer and rejoice – just plain interact with each other :)

Because of this, I often quote the Methodist Book of Discipline: the very idea of transubstantiation "overthroweth the nature of a sacrament!" (This is most certainly true :)!)

Getting back to the scandal of a Holy God who risked living and dying as one of us, this God, our God, is Sovereign and Free and so could choose any course of action whatsoever, but not only did our God in passion for relationship and response make creation and then redeem that "fallen" creation, but God chose to continue re-minding us of his favorite manner of acting – because, just like Israel, we kept forgetting. And we still keep on forgetting!

So we remember, actualize and anticipate water, bread and wine made Transcendent at the same time the Transcendent again becomes immanent in creation's earthbound "stuff." Re-minding us and re-showing us the Risen Christ present and apparent, though always elusive and hidden, in the sacraments and now, at Pentecost, also in the Body of the Risen Christ, the Church.

Gosh, I kinda went off on a theology tangent, had I known that's where I'd go I'd have emphasized FAR MORE the Risen Christ's presence in all redeemed creation (which of course is all creation) (yeah, Luther) as well as in the community of faith (Zwingli's emphasis though of course all the Reformers "went there" and "were there" as well).

...just as God raised Jesus the Christ not into some remote, other-worldly far-away "religious" glory but God raised Jesus to earthly, earthbound "glory," among the people he had loved to the end, despite being betrayed into death...

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