Thursday, December 27, 2007

search string fun

A few months ago or so I got this very fun idea of figuring out what search strings returned your own blog at the top of the list from singing owl; at the time I did them, these searches put desert spirit's fire at the top but I can't claim they'll do so consistently. I've decided I'm done for now--thanks for a great diversion, Singing Owl!
  • leah theology desert
  • leah sacraments desert
  • leah baptism desert
  • sacraments fire desert baptism
  • sacraments fire desert eucharist
  • leah sacraments "emerging church"
  • leah desert theology "emerging church"
  • leah sacraments baptism "emerging church"
  • leah liturgy sacraments
  • leah baptism eucharist
(these were google searches; later i got even better results from dogpile!)

singing owl's [original] play

Benazir Bhutto: 1953-2007

A type of Jesus Christ and a profound loss for the entire world..."baptized in blood."

Monday, December 24, 2007

advent 4

Sunday afternoon, Advent 4 (yep, I'd intended to blog this about 12 hours ago)

Big 737 was not set to go by the 3:05 scheduled flight time, and while I waited along with a holiday-sized throng in a new to me location, Gate 1 downstairs at Lindbergh Field, in quick succession they announced boarding would start, had stopped, an engine needed inspecting and we could get on board, after all, but to do so we needed to match up the number and letter on our boarding pass and queue up numerically under the new, clearly-numbered overhead signs. Doubtless most of my blog readers know about Southwest, the Socialist Airline, and today was my first encounter with "You Are Still Free to Choose Your Seat: Southwest's new boarding enhances the preflight experience," (I spent too much time last week preflighting InDesign stuff...) as the December inflight magazine, Spirit expresses it.

Invariably and inevitably, socialism's way of the people, by the people, for the people generates rules, restrictions and unyielding structures that eventually inhibit slow down and stop the people's freedom. But oh, by the way, SW still has unassigned seating—at least for now. At Christmas Jesus came to us born for the people as one of the people, lived for us the people, died for the people - us! - and rose from the dead for the people—for all creation, actually. An original basic intent of carrying the Good News to more and more people and organizing churches properly and in decent order, has resulted in local congregations, denominated church bodies and judicatories overburdened (hmmm...in mining the overburden gets removed and hauled away, far away) with rules, restrictions, infrastructures and superstructures that inhibit the freedom of the people Jesus lived and died for and that in the end sometimes contradict The Way of The Crucified and Risen One. In my typical way I've made excuses for the development of institutional structures, but too often they develop because people seeking Their Own Place and a Sense of Importance will declare and decree in order(!) to get themselves more clout and greater visibility. Last week more than once IRL again I mentioned I have no regret (none whatsoever—really!) that I didn't finish seminary, adding (again) I didn't want to be a senior pastor or head of staff...friend and colleague pastor I was talking with again observed most of the people who get to be senior pastors in a multiple-staff church are impossible to work with and no one wants to stay on staff with them anyway. Reference what I wrote above...

This evening we'll celebrate Nativity Eve with fajita burritos accompanied by Mexican Feast; tomorrow morning I'll attend morning liturgy at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic. I do hope to post a more hopeful blog by Christmas evening!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Feast of the Nativity: Eucharistic Prayer

  • The Lord be with you.
  • And also with you.
  • Lift up your hearts.
  • We lift them to the Lord.
  • Let us give thanks to God.
  • It is joy to offer thanks and praise!
Christmas Tree 8Root of Jesse, Son of Heaven, Mary's Child,
Cradle of Joy, Word in the Manger, Astonishing Grace and Lord of Creation, in jubilation heaven and earth adore you!
Abundant Promise and Dayspring of Peace,
At the dawn of time you spoke a Word of light into the darkness, taming the primeval disorder;
From the mountain you offered a Word of Covenant and Freedom;
Prophets spoke your Word of Justice and Hope, and in Jesus, born of Mary, you came to earth as God-with-us, a Ransom for all.
Therefore, with the angels, the stars, the Bethlehem hills and people in every time and every place we sing:
Holy are you, God of mercy and love, and blessed is Jesus, your Son;
He left the realms of heaven, was born, served and taught as one of us, died for all on Calvary Hill, rose from death for the life of the world and ascended to reign over all creation.

And with the saints we confess the mystery of faith:
  • Christ has died;
  • Christ is risen;
  • Christ will come again!
On the night of betrayal and desertion, our Lord Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
In the same way after supper, he also took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."
As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes again in glory.
Come, Spirit of Holiness—come upon the prairies, the hills, the deserts, the seas, this city and upon this assembly;
Come, Holy Spirit—sanctify these gifts of grain and fruit of the vine uniting us with all creation;
Come, Spirit of Life—bless our feasting at this table and open our eyes to recognize the risen Christ in each other, in all for whom Jesus died, and especially our enemies...
Make us bearers of your peace and shepherds of your grace,
That washed in the waters of rebirth and reborn in the image of the Bethlehem Baby, we may live as people purified for your own purpose,
So in that day, when all creation dwells in heaven's reign, as we gather around heaven's Welcome Table, we will celebrate you as Emmanuel, God-among-us, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, endlessly throughout eternity,
Amen!

© leah chang 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

posada sin fronteras...

...14th annual

el otro lado del otro lado || the other side of the other side

This is a slice of Gloria Caballero's painting of the Tijuana Lighthouse; although unlit, its brightness and elevation formed a beckoning beacon Tijuana lighthouseSaturday afternoon from 3:30 until dark when a couple hundred of us gathered on each side of the international border at Border Field State Park in Chula Vista – "Lovely View" – where Alta California and Baja California meet each other. We sang and prayed; we heard words of hope, hospitality and freedom. Getting there took some effort this year because everyone had to park over a mile away and trek through the sand. When we tried walking through loose sand our footing was unsteady and difficult, but closer to the shore the ocean water packed the sand, making it firm enough to walk in relatively comfortable safety. Nice metaphor that reminded me "On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand."

Before sun country living became my design blog, the first 24 posts were random, sometimes unworked-through ideas, including some from my commonplace books. Related to this topic of borders, this post quoted from an old series of AT&T (print and television both, I believe); here's what I blogged:
  • At least talk to each other!
  • Divisions evolve from the barriers we construct
  • Evol/Love (in addition to the print ad, I saw this one in a video at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago)
  • Meet somebody halfway
  • Out of a sense of self, a sense of the other
  • Reach out for someone
  • Understanding begins with communication
  • There's something you can do about it ... meet somebody halfway ... to communicate is the beginning of understanding!
...did someone say "speech is the language of covenant?" I read that somewhere and I completely agree!
the descriptive intro ¶ in the posada bulletin explains
All the world's great religions recognize hospitality for the stranger as a sign of mature faith. La Posada is a reenactment of the Bible story of Mary and Joseph who, while sojourners in Bethlehem, were forced to seek shelter on the night of Jesus' birth. It is a venerated Christmas tradition across the Americas. BTW, this drawing of a couple and their donkey is a scan of the event bulletin cover; I don't know the artist.
posada family This resonates immensely with our Advent discussions about God from the exceedingly other side (heaven) coming to this side (earth) in order to make a home among the people—un hogar entre humanidad! God's makes shekinah, tabernacles, pitches a tent in order to journey alongside creation; in Jesus, God makes a posada sin fronteras, a boundless dwelling! "Posada" implies more of a fixed and reliable stopover place than it does a portable carry-on-your-back tent, but as image and reality of God's essential call to hospitality, the posada concept works as well as the tent.

Along with the contemporary Mexican church we celebrated hospitality with a party to welcome the Holy Family, and akin to practice of the ancient church, we also mourned those who have died crossing the border, responding "presente" to the reading of each name: present to God, finally at home. border fence This years theme was Families without Borders; Mexican sponsors included Casa del Migrante, Comision Nacional del los Derechos Humanos and Arquidiocesis de Tijuana/Pastoral de la Movilidad Humana. American Friends Service Committee, Ecumenical Council of San Diego and Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights were among the many posada sponsors on this side of the border; happily, the sponsors list is too long reasonably to include in this type of blog. Note that the border fence extends out into the Pacific surf...

When I blogged about Miroslav Volf's Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, I quoted from the author:
“...baptism into Christ creates a people as the differentiated body of Christ…[which] lives as a complex interplay of differentiated bodies—Jewish and gentile, female and male, slave and free—of those who have partaken of Christ’s self-sacrifice. The Pauline move is not from the particularity of the body to the universality of the spirit, but from separated bodies to the community of interrelated bodies—the one body in the Spirit with many discrete members." –page 48
As singulars or as plurals, whether we stand face-to-face or shoulder-to-shoulder, inevitably and invariably we are on each others' other sides. I do not and cannot know myself other than vis-à-vis another. When you are not there I am familia sin fronteras braceletwithout a mirror, have no reference and cannot define or describe myself. How many people have said, "Don't listen to other people"? I have no choice but to listen, because God formed me for community, has called me into communities of humans, of creation and of the Church, charging me to live as other to my other. 'Nuff said!

Because Families Without Borders – Familia Sin Fronteras – is this year's emphasis, each of us on this side received a familia sin fronteras bracelet to wear. When will difference and differentness be celebrated and welcomed? When will all of us become and live as safe posadas where our others can find a dwelling place and sacred space? If we hear the Spirit's call and trust the Spirit's provision, that parousaic time soon will be this eternal now. Amen? Amen!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Light of the World

Here's the design I created for the Christmas mailer from one of my churches; I may design a couple of additional pieces, too.

update: I'm going to do 2 bulletin covers — legal and letter sizes — and an invitation for people to give to their friends, families and neighbors.

update 2: you can check out the letter-size bulletin cover here and the legal-size here; they're going to consider the invitation the mailer, so I don't need to design another piece!

Light of the world

Friday, December 07, 2007

God Among Us discussion 03

Advent 1: Historical Witness – Creation and Prophets

Advent 2: Historical Witness – Jesus Christ

Advent 3: Liturgy, Word, Sacrament

Advent 4: Contemporary Witness – us and our neighbors

The class will get a copy of love one another by Paul Hammer.

Backtrack

Abraham, Jesus, us—from the other side of the dominant social and economic culture of consumerism and exorbitant consumption; from the other side of death…alive in Jesus Christ!

2 Samuel 7:5-6 "I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling.'" John 1:14 And the word became flesh and tabernacled, pitched a tent among us...

Historical and contemporary

Exodus 5:1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'Let my people go, so that they may celebrate a festival to me in the wilderness.'" From the time Israel and Yahweh rendezvoused into covenantal relationship in the desert of the Exodus, the liturgies of God's people have recounted and playfully reenacted into present-time the stories of God's faithfulness in their lives. The church gathers as the community that already has experienced its first death and second birth, fully alive under the subversive Lordship of Jesus Christ. Some congregations (not us?!) deliberately quest to become like those bigger or more ostentatious churches. But did God ever call the People of God to live in ways congruent with their local culture? Or in a radically culturally incongruent, actually counter-cultural manner? How about prophetic liturgy and prophetic living?

Theologically, psychologically, anthropologically and economically an individual becomes a person, a social entity by becoming embedded in a textured, connected, interwoven history of shared experiences and different viewpoints; there is no other way to create a humanly connected sense of your own identity, form memories and become part of history. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are cosmic events in each of our lives and part of our transformation from individual into person.

In worship, especially when we celebrate the sacraments, we anticipate, celebrate and commemorate and carry with us a microcosm of a redeemed world, a living and a life-giving memory of Jesus. In us, Jesus again becomes alive in the world and we offer the world a living connection to the heaven of God's Reign here on earth.

Liturgy, time; Sacraments, space and matter

Liturgy - Holy Time: remembering Whose we are! Who has called us! We recall, retell and re-enact our corporate and individual histories of the journey from death into life.

Sacraments - Holy Place and Holy Stuff—sacred creation: re-membering who we are! The person and communities God has called and enabled us to be and to do.

Water is the womb of creation. In baptism, we enter the state of this world yet unborn and submerge ourselves in the substance from which primal life emerged, completely engulfed by God's creative power of death and resurrection, identifying with this planet's history and with Jesus Christ.

Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

Bread – in Saxon English, the Lord provided the "loaf" (of bread) essential for sustenance; we live born/baptized into the biography of Jesus, born in Bethlehem (House of Bread) baby; we recognize Jesus Christ as our Lord. The Heidelberg Catechism says in the Lord's Supper we become "bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh!"

Fruit of the Vine – a potent and polyvalent biblical symbol and reality.

Corporate Identity Package

We are the body, corpus, of Christ! Each of us is a member of the body of Christ. Jesus Christ incarnate, in the flesh again, re-enfleshed in us. Corporate Identity [package]: our logo, our résumé, our curriculum vitae, detailing where we've been, what we've learned, what we live for and die for...who are we? In Christ, we have experienced our second birth and our first death. We live under the reign of life rather than in the enslavement, the subjugation of death.

Baptism: primal experience, water, womb; Romans 6:3-10

Eucharist: we find sacred memory and discover hope for a free future in the meta-narratives of redemption, of deliverance from death to life in the Exodus and Passion/Easter stories. Theologian Jürgen Moltmann describes baptism as "sign, witness, representation and illumination of the Christ Event, and" we can claim the same about the Eucharist. We know Jesus Christ as sovereign, prophet and priest; baptized, we participate in that royal, prophetic priesthood. In the Eucharist, the church in every place and every time blesses and reintegrates all creation in every place and time; we recognize as sacred everything we see and touch and smell and hear and taste; 1 Corinthians 11:23-28

Liturgy: holy time - remembering Whose we are

Sacraments: holy space - re-membering who we are

Time and space are the conditions in which all creation lives. Living within the cycle of the liturgical year as it replicates the history of God and the people of God and celebrating the sacraments within that context helps refocus time and space as the necessary environment of God's revelation to us as human creations. But we know Creator and creature are discontinuous, so how do we discover God amidst creation? How does the Divine Presence enter our lives in decayables such as human speech, grain, grape, memory and music?

Time in space: during gestation we are immersed in time, in the rhythms of heartbeat and lungs, rather than imagining time as external to our world. Outside the maternal womb, we rework and re-collect for a lifetime the sounds and rhythms of our primal becoming. Liturgy brings both cosmic time and chronological time to an intersection where all times everywhere, past, present and future, meet in this present now, filling it with hope for a free and full future. The sacraments are actions of the entire Church in every time and every place, and connect us with the whole people of God in every time and space.

Space in time: the dwelling-spaces, schools and neighborhoods of our earliest years immersed us in space in a foundational way that continues transforming us today. In its proclamation and with the sacraments the church recovers historical events for us and helps us make all time and space sacred. We know anywhere God encounters creation is sacred space, but in the sovereignty of the crucified and risen Christ the formal sacraments expand to include all creation. Baptized into the Christ Event of God's supreme self-revelation in measurable, definable space and time, we become prophet, priests and sovereigns, in stewardship of creation and of life.

Living on the limen, the threshold

Toward the end of the Lenten series on theology of the cross, I asked, "can our presence in the world and in our neighborhoods be a liminal, in the process of becoming, though not-quite-yet one? Partly in our own world and way, partly in theirs, and wholly in the sovereignty of heaven?"

© leah chang 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

love one another

This coming Sunday, Advent 2, we'll be discussing God's Presence Among Us in liturgy, preaching and sacraments, and I'm going to give the people in my class a copy of this holy reflection for Maundy Thursday by Paul Hammer. If you're not familiar with Dr. Hammer, he offered one of the Taking the Bible Seriously talks they posted on the old UCC site. You still can find it at the link I provided.

love one another

Jesus, how common can you get? Foot washing, bread, wine!
If you're going to be religious, at least use something special.
No, my friend, I came not to perform special religious rites
But to touch the daily life of everyone
With God's love in the commonest of things.
O.K., water, bread, wine.
But isn't foot washing a bit ridiculous?
And what about "this is my body"?
And "this cup is the new covenant in my blood"?
Foot washing is the work of the commonest servant—I came to serve.
But it points beyond to the "washing" of the cross—
God's self-giving service in me to cleanse away estrangement
And heal the distortions in people's lives.
The bread points to nourishment in that same self-giving of God
At work in my body, that is in me.
And the cup points to the new community drawn together and nourished
In my blood, that is in God's total self-giving in my death.
Do you mean that this common stuff of water, bread and wine
Becomes in you the very focus of God's love for me and for the world?
That there is no excuse for my not loving my common neighbor?
Because you have shown the depth of God's love for me?
You've got it!
But it isn't a love for special occasions.
It has to be that daily love that's as common as water, bread and wine!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Liturgy Proclamation Sacraments - post 333

Almost randomly, today I'm blogging preliminary notes for next Sunday's 3rd class in my God Among Us series. So far we've discussed the Divine Presence in creation, in the prophets and in the Bethlehem manger; next Sunday we'll explore God's grace-filled Presence in liturgy, word and sacraments, and most likely I'll give the class a separate file with some details about scriptural roots and historical eucharistic practice.



Liturgy—Holy Time: remembering Whose we are! Who has called us! We recall, retell and re-enact our corporate and individual histories of the journey from death into life.

Sacraments—Holy Place and Holy Stuff—sacred creation: re-membering who we are! what God has called and enabled us to be and to do.



Water, the primordial substance of the world, existed before anything else in creation; in Genesis we read:
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
Water is the womb of creation. In baptism, we enter the state of this world yet unborn and submerge ourselves in the substance from which primal life emerged, completely engulfed by God's creative power of death and resurrection, identifying with this planet's history and with Jesus Christ.

In Saxon English, the Lord provided the "loaf" (of bread) essential for sustenance; we live born/baptized into the biography of the baby born in Bethlehem (House of Bread) baby; we recognize Jesus Christ as our Lord. The Heidelberg Catechism says in the Lord's Supper we become "bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh!" In faith and baptism Jesus' biography becomes our biography: suffered under Pontius Pilate—the conventional, death-dealing, life-killing political, social and economic and cultural establishment(s), crucified, dead, buried...on the third day he rose again from the dead, ascended to sovereignty...

We are the body, corpus, of Christ! Each of us is a member of the body of Christ. Jesus Christ incarnate, in the flesh again, re-enfleshed in us. Corporate Identity [package]: our logo, our résumé, our curriculum vitae, where we've been, what we've learned, what we live for and die for...who are we? In Christ, we have experienced our second birth and our first death. We live under the reign of life rather than in the enslavement, the subjugation of death.



We've talked about Abraham, Jesus and us being from the other side of the prevailing culture. Now let's consider all of us living on the other side of the culture of death, alive in the sovereignty of life! Baptism: primal experience, water, womb.

Eucharist: our meta-narrative, primal narrative as a community. Both cosmic events in each of our lives are part of our transformation from individual to person. Theologian Jürgen Moltmann describes baptism as "sign, witness, representation and illumination of the Christ Event, and" we can claim the same about the Eucharist. We know Jesus Christ as sovereign, prophet and priest; baptized, we participate in that royal, prophetic priesthood. Especially related to those roles, how can our lives signify, witness to, represent and illuminate the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ? To partly quote and partially paraphrase from another blog:
Theologically, psychologically, anthropologically, and economically a lone individual becomes a person, a social entity, by becoming embedded in a textured, connected, interwoven history of shared experiences and different points of view. There is no other way to create a humanly connected sense of your own identity, form memories and become part of history. You (I need, one needs) need a stable community and probably a plot of land to give you a stable sense of self if you are going to be healthy! Without those fluid living processes in a real sense a individual or a people has no history, but lives in a neither here not there "nowhere" of a fragmented series of stories starting to form, but without a persistent core that includes people who have journeyed alongside us through time, so it's possible to "remember when" together, to evoke and rekindle tarnished dreams and splintered hopes. No matter how many other people come and go in each of our lives, each of us needs persons (and maybe places, too) of shared history, to accurately name ourselves and recognize others.
Especially in an increasingly anomic and anonymous world (this is southern California, but it's happening everywhere),we need awareness of our history with the people of God and God of the people in every time and space, and this is where scripture, sacraments and liturgy become saving realities, "means of grace" as we refer to preaching and sacraments (and, of course, the cross) in this tradition. Congregations, people, and groups can read out of the texts of scripture and the persons of the prophets, the apostles and Jesus the Christ into their own experiences; they can write, re-write and image a shared past into a full present and meaningful future, right along with awareness of themselves as community. Other people and events may enter, stay a while, leave for a while and possibly return, but being grounded and rooted in historical existence lived, narrated, written down and liturgically re-enacted keeps on and continues transforming lives.



lifelines and heartbeatsold journal notes:
The colors, texts, textures and music marking the events in the liturgical calendar were more real to me than any of my own individual history ever had been and had shaped my life into deep, indelible patterns and designs. The rhythms, pace and pulse of local church ministry with its alternating consistency and surprising interventions shaped my days and literally outlined my identity.



More paraphrases from one of my blogs:

The synagogue's and later the church's liturgy developed and became shaped in a way that addresses, interacts with and speaks to the human condition and Divine response to human need. One way Israel kept remembering the past so it would remain present was with rituals, celebrations and liturgies in which they remembered, talked about and reenacted past events as if they still were in the present, and within a context that was play more than it was anything else. Israel told and retold the story of the people’s experience with the God of the covenants, and like God’s primal people Israel, in our worship we remember who God is, who we are, how God has acted. In the power of the Holy Spirit we affirm our dreams and announce our hopes for the future. Like play of all kinds, worship also creates a new and different self-contained world existing with and within our everyday world. In worship, but especially when we celebrate the sacraments, we anticipate, celebrate and commemorate and we carry with us beyond this building this microcosm of a redeemed world that has been created by us and God, between us and God, as we become a living and a life-giving memory of Jesus so in us, Jesus again becomes alive in the world and we become sacraments mediating between God in Christ and the world, offering the world a living connection to the heaven of God’s Reign here on earth.



liturgy, time; sacraments, space

Time and space are the conditions in which all creation lives. Living within the cycle of the liturgical year as it replicates the history of God and the people of God and celebrating the sacraments within that context helps refocus and change the meaning of time and space as the necessary context God's revelation to us as human creations.

Liturgy: holy time—remembering Whose we are

Sacraments: holy space—re-membering who we are

Time in space: we spend nine months immersed in the watery womb from conception to birth, immersed in the rhythms of heartbeat and lungs. During gestation we are immersed in time, rather than imagining time as external to our world. Outside the maternal womb, in our daily lives and in the church, for a lifetime we rework and re-collect the sounds and rhythms of our primal becoming. Through liturgy, the church recovers the sacredness of all time, not just the perfunctorily, formally schedules times of Sunday worship. Liturgy brings both cosmic time and chronological time to an intersection where all times everywhere, past, present and future, meet in this present now, filling it with hope for a free and full future. The sacraments are actions of the entire Church in every time and every place, and connect us with the whole people of God in every time and space.

Space in time: Just as the gestational womb provided an immersion in time and space prior to our physical birth, the dwelling-spaces, schools and neighborhoods of our earliest years immersed us in space in a foundational way that formed us and continues transforming us today. In our search for home, for safety and for belonging, recognition and acknowledgment, in its proclamation and with the sacraments the church recovers historical events for us and helps us make all time and space sacred. As people of the Bible, we know anywhere God meets, encounters creation is sacred space, but in the sovereignty of the crucified and risen Christ the formal sacraments expand to include all creation. Baptized into the Christ Event of God’s supreme self-revelation in measurable, definable space and time, we become prophet, priests and sovereigns, in stewardship of creation and of life. In the Eucharist, the church in every place and every time blesses and reintegrates all creation in every place and time; we recognize as sacred everything we see and touch and smell and hear and taste. (That was redundant, but for Sunday I'll choose which way to express it, or maybe invent a third way.)



As Christians, God's people in Jesus Christ, we find sacred memory and discover hope for a free future in the meta-narratives of redemption, of deliverance from death to life in the Exodus and Passion/Easter stories.

I love Exodus 5:1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'Let my people go, so that they may celebrate a festival to me in the wilderness.'" From the time Israel and Yahweh rendezvoused into covenantal relationship in the desert of the Exodus, the liturgies of God's people have recounted the story of God's faithfulness in their lives and recollected ways in which God shaped and formed the identity of the people of God along with God's call to the people to be His Presence in the world and God's enabling and fulfilling that call in the power of the HS. Worship forms a microcosm of our daily, lively encounter with a Holy God, Who calls us to be Holy as He is! Martin Luther's story is so well-known, but no way did he minimize the awesomeness and the demands for justice of the God of Jesus Christ. It was exactly that awareness that initially led Brother Martin to extreme measures in attempts to please and placate God. Predictable I sort of needed to include Luther note! Moving on, now.

The sacraments and the order of worship create a microcosm of redeemed, restored creation, bringing to life a hint of the eschaton, the new creation. (I won't say "eschaton" on Sunday without explaining it, trust me!)



In April 2006 I blogged about Emerging Church, emerging churches
The church gathers as the community that already has experienced its first death and second birth, the community that thrives under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, in the reign of life. The barely formed churches we hear about in the epistles (I'm thinking of Corinth as especially instructive) were way different from the over-formed institutional Church Luther wrote and spoke against; in this 21st Century, the church almost has become something else altogether.

Some congregations deliberately quest to become like those other churches across the street, down the boulevard, or in geographically near, but more visibly and ostentatiously affluent areas. Although I hesitate to write "evangelical," that was the Reformer's word for Protestantism in general and evangelical remains the word for "Protestant" in non-English speaking countries. Nonetheless, my readers know what I'm trying to say!

Prayer and hymn singing in the vernacular is one of Luther's marks of the true church; the Reformers also insisted where the gospel was rightly proclaimed (Calvin added "heard) and the sacraments administered, there the church was—everything else was adiaphora. "Evangelism in the vernacular" also needs to happen for the Church, as the Body of the Risen Christ, to be true to its call, as Jesus always met people more than half-way—Jesus met people as who they were and where they were. The churches I've been visiting and the protestant mainline I identify with all have been trying to meet people where they are and speak in a language they'll understand. But did God ever call the People of God to live in ways congruent with their local cultures? Or in a radically culturally incongruent, actually counter-cultural manner? How about prophetic liturgy and prophetic living?

Evangelism in the vernacular? Telling the Good News in the people's muttersprach, in their lingua franca, which, of course, means far more than the syntax, colloquialisms and grammar of their spoken and written language. Our evangelical language needs to reach all of their cultural sensibilities as well as their actual native idiom of every aspect of their everyday lives, reaching far into their values, hopes and dreams. What do they desire for themselves, their children, their community, and even for worlds beyond their immediate ones? What would they perceive as Good News; above all, what can we demonstrate to them that would make them willing to risk change?



On Lent 5, toward the end of my Lenten series on theology of the cross, again I blogged on this site geographically, socially, culturally, chronologically, theologically and/or spiritually liminal modes of Christian presence and asked, "can our presence in the world and in our neighborhoods be a liminal, in the process of becoming, though not-quite-yet one? Partly in our own world and way, partly in theirs, and wholly in the sovereignty of heaven?"

Note that I [originally] concluded with text in fiery Pentecostal red! Now to further consider these ideas and write them down in coherent form for next Sunday's class meeting.

© leah chang 2007