Wednesday, August 20, 2008
SIMPLY CHRISTIAN -- 9th Study Guide
Chapters 15 and 16

In this book, Bishop Wright has wanted to reveal to us God’s passion to put the world to rights, and there cannot be a “right” until the church understands its role and responsibility in the creation story.

In our earliest cries, we’ve protested, “It’s not fair!” – “It” being anything from a small injustice to a tsunami or an IED. We read that Jesus resurrection “has won” victory over evil – “has” being past tense, we then say so why isn’t this working. Look around! You will see plenty of evidence that the people have fallen away. We still build our own Tower of Babel – monuments to self, but that echo we have heard urges us to set the world to rights.

We, as a people of God and His Church, reach out for the path, the connection. Wright emphasizes four deep yearnings: 1) beauty, 2) relationship, 3) spirituality, and 4) justice.
What can you know of justice, relationship, beauty and spirituality when your belly is empty and so is your soul. When you look out on life framed by broken glass, cracked concrete, and gunshots. Nothing is ever beautiful or just. Every human knows that it is not right – it is not fair. Yet, people are still willing to give their lives to setting the world right – moving the story forward to that point where heaven and earth intersect.

When I am in those, “My God, My God, WHY . .” moments – urgent, but temporal – I’m amazed how frequently beauty brings me back to reality. The frog is not necessarily beautiful, but when I walk along the pond and startle him, I do not see him, only hear his croak and a splash as he seeks the safety of the water. Little frog, you make me smile. In the perfect order of God’s world, you know it is the water that saves. Water so symbolic – it washes, refreshes, cleanses, redeems, provides. There is so much beauty in our world if we are looking for it. Even in the ice storms when the world is made of crystal.

We know we belong in relationship, but we can’t seem to quite get it right. So often we let anger dictate the terms of engagement, but Jesus’ parables and teachings emphasized how kindness can make so much difference. We think much more of power than of kindness, yet a few times in recent history, we have seen how kindness and the soft word can lead a nation into relationship as in India and So. Africa.

Spirituality we long for. Sin is not simply breaking the law, but missing an opportunity.
Growing up – grasping something better. To grow past the idea of bribing God or placating Him – He who came to serve – and we think we are to “serve” him and we reject that idea. What a human view – an Old Testament view. Christianity is something people do together – to experience the intimate presence of God. To know him as “Abba” – Father. God intends that we study the Bible to know how to be agents of change and creation and move the story forward. To find the places where heaven and earth intersect. We pray for God to reveal himself to us, but are we listening – watching, seeing – or only waiting for our expectations to be accommodated.

Then there’s justice. Christian faith endorses the passion for justice that every human knows. We know it matters, but somehow it slips through our fingers. The Jesus story is about putting the world to rights. His death and resurrection has set the stage. We are just so impatient and yearn to know when, Lord, when. Jesus answered that question by telling us it is not for us to know the times which the Father has set by his own authority.
We need to put the world to rights by belonging to a group small enough to know and care for each other and to pray in meaningful depth for one another. To know the appeal of forgiveness, the answering thankful love.

Steps that will be helpful in achieving new depths of Christianity are:
1) We tell the faith stories
2) We act out the rituals of our faith
3) We create beauty
4) We work for community
5) We think out our beliefs
6) We worship and pray

Quite simply, what it means to be Christian is to follow Jesus Christ into the new world, God’s new world, which he has thrown open before us. All we can say is “Thank You.”

Almighty God, who alone can bring order to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity: Give your people grace so to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, among the many changes of this world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Reaching out. . . .
Barb Atkinson

  posted at 7:35 PM  


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