Saturday, February 17, 2007

an emerging companion

This will be the first of many companions along the journey. I run into these 'emerging companions' quite regularly, or perhaps, because I'm attentive as one, I'm able to hear them more clearly. As it turns out, they're actually all over the place, confessors and non-confessors alike. As Peter Rolins says, God is not anonymous. God is hyper-nonymous!

My wife, who's working with a particular congregation, sent this email on to me from an older women in this rural community. Don't tell me that 'emerging' sensibilities are related to age or location...I don't believe that they are, they are transcending age, because at the heart of this conversation is a substantive move rather than merely an aesthetic one. The email...

"Hi, I started reading the sample constitution. My copy of our const. starts on page three, so I have nothing with which to compare this first stuff. Why do we have to swear so neatly to the Nicene Creed or any other creed? They are words, as are the scriptures. Fortunately the scriptures contain lots of stories of people's experiences in relation to God, so it can sort of be called the Word of God, but I'd prefer if just Jesus got this title. Concepts limit and divide, whereas Reality is limitless and whole. Words are the donkey we may ride to get to the house, but going inside requires participation and relationship. It is personal. Then there's the document regarding becoming a licensed lay leader. Besides being judged informed enough, Lutheran enough, you can have your license yanked and no reason needs to be given. The bishop is surely a nice guy, but that may not always be true. Why was this totally arbitrary power given to the top leader? This surely opens the door for abuse of power. Surely there were idiots there the day that small paragraph was okayed. Now that I've ranted and raved, I'll stop. I think it would be good for the whole blinkin' church to consider if we want to accept that we believe the Apostle's Creed, The Nicene Creed, The Athanaisian Creed and the unaltered Augsburg Confession! Can't we just get away from the theistic views and medieval expressions? This is the 21st Century and we have quantum physics and the general theory of relativity and even some attempts at a unified law of matter. We cannot use words to describe God. We can only say what God is not! God is a mystery and we intuit sometimes, the presence, the goodness, the wholeness, the generosity and grace that God extends to us all. Didn't Paul say Christ was the first of many brothers? Then his message was probably, "I am God's child and so are you. What I do you will do. You, too are a spirit as well as a physical body. Reality, awareness, wonder of wonders. If we soak in this, how full we will become. I am afraid the bishop would yank my license as clergy generally don't like it when lay people have these ideas. I'm not at all sure I should try for this. Glum! Ruth"

An excerpt from the email my wife Kacey sent back to Ruth:
"Ruth, I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to read your email. I remain Lutheran not because of our polity, but because of our theology and for me the church provides an ordered skin for me to be called and possibly ordained. But the modern leanings of the church, "right" doctrine, "right" belief or power given to a few--does not pulse through my veins. At times I rebel and hope to help the church transform from the inside shift from focusing on "belief" as mental assent, to a living, holistic trust in a living, hospitable Jesus who loves, lives and cares for all creation. I agree Jesus does deserve the title."

A final follow-up response from Ruth:

"Wow! Thanks, Kacey, you just did me a world of good. I thought I was probably sunk now. I haven't always said what I thought, but one cannot sit in church for 50 years and retranslate everything so it's acceptable to your experience and not finally say...shoot, I'm just going to say what I think. I know that it isn't going to jeopardize my relationship with Jesus or the Father, the Great Mystery who I believe loves us fiercely. Tell David if anything I say can help anything or anybody in or out of the church, take it and use it. See you tomorrow. love you, Ruth"

1 comment:

Rick said...

Kacey is soooo awesome!