Sunday, August 29, 2004

God, Strangers and Saints part 1

God, Strangers and Saints
part 1

Disguised as a stranger sojourning among the people is a frequent form of our Living God's incarnational presence in the world; to describe how transitory, impermanent and continually changing God's enfleshment was and still is, St John's gospel tells us God "pitches a tent!" We are created in a polyfaceted Imago Dei,and one of the multitude of God-images in which we're to live is as sojourning strangers, so the Holy Spirit calls the assembly of Saints, the Church, to be and to flourish as people of radical trust (and freedom? Amen!?), people without a fixed and permanent home, who "pitch their tents" for a time and then move on. Being sojourning strangers has major implications for our lifestyle and for our social location...no surprise?! And living as nomads is a way replete with Eastered hope: we know the saga of Israel's wandering trek through the desert as they slowly assumed their identity as a covenanted community while they learned their God, Yahweh's reality as God of the Covenants. Consequently, for Israel, just as for us as the New Israel, the Church, a nomadic *religion* became a way of trust and then one of hope as moving step by step and making a path toward the Land of Promise they gradually learned it wasn't about the destination at all, but rather about the journey. It wasn't about the promised place where they *imagined* they'd be settled and secure, but about learning to trust the God of the Exodus from Egypt's bondage, the God of Life Who never at any time ever was, has been or ever could be other than God of the departure from slavery and the journey into liberty and responsibility!

Given the fact of this call to the Church, how can our lives as tent-making, tent-toting, tent-pitching wayfarers play out every day? This community of the holy, society of saints at very minimum is supposed to be out of the ordinary, "different from" and plain unusual in the world's terms. But the church needs to attract the world and at the very same time it needs to be attractive to the world, so the world will meet it part of the way and so the church will have the nearness it needs in order to respond to Jesus' call to "take the world in a love embrace," to quote Steppenwolf's song, "Born to be wild,"that's currently in a Chevy TV commercial!

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