Monday, May 31, 2004

Living in Mission 4

The Missionary Congregation, Leadership, and Liminality by Alan J. Roxburgh on Amazon

Chapter 2b, Liminality, A Model for Engagement (pp. 33-42)

missionary congregation coverI didn't remember what "symbol migration" was, and I believe the example of the cross becoming cutesy jewelry is apt: the salvific and reconciling Christ event has become so much about "me" and "my" rather than being about the called-out covenanted community. I know several people who always wear a cross but, so far as I'm aware, never, ever attend church. Symbol migration, and in the migration eventually the original meaning gets completely lost, but then the symbol often assumes a new meaning.

For another personal example, some time ago I unwillingly left my "tried and true" – literally my identity – and spend a very long time indeed in what at first I knew must be a liminal situation in which God would act mightily in my life and world to renew and reshape me, but then after far too much time had passed, not only did none of the old explanations work: no new ones that made a modicum of sense came to me. By now it's become close to clear to me that I may never have a reasonable explanation for those years.

Pastor Roxburgh strikingly observes (page 38): "...it is not marginalization that shapes our context but a liminality without center points from which to gain perspective or meaning." He also claims, "The church's understanding of its changed social location will determine its praxis." Back to structure as a conscious awareness and recognition.

Pastor R reminds us the church building – the church structure – was a place of refuge, a place of sanctuary. It used to be known that God's "social location" was inside the culture; in covenantal theology we affirm wherever God meets the people is holy, sacred ground, "sanctuary." In biblical – in covenantal – terms, it is God indwelling the people, it is God's encounters with the creation to which Godself so passionately has "attached" Godself (remember Water Buffalo Theology by Kosuke Koyama?) that sanctifies life.

New inside: the secular; new outside: the religious. Interesting!

Finally, the "resymbolization" and professionalization of church leadership, as it became and continues becoming yet another priesthood with all of the occultisms, rituals, secrets, insignia, gnoses - and bureaucracies - associated with all of those other royal priesthoods...remember the Jerusalem Temple? 2c is about "Pastoral Identity and Liminality!" Is that :) or is that :( ?

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