Because I Follow Jesus, I love you.I move toward “the other.”I break down walls of hostility.i stand with you in solidarity.you are made in God’s image. strong-i am your servant. benevolentI practice human-kindness.
Four Challenges 1. Historical 2. Doctrinal 4. Missional
there are liturgies that fomenthostility and reinforce hostility...
can we imagine liturgies that inspire kindness?
The very act of gathering for worship can be “groupish” ritual of affirming “us-ness” versus “them-ness.”
The Songs We Sing
All things bright and beautiful,All creatures great and small,All things wise and wonderful:The Lord God made them all. - Ms. Cecil Alexander (1848)
Each little flower that opens,/ Each little bird that sings,/He made their glowing colors./ He made their tiny wings.The purple headed mountains,/ The river running by,/ Thesunset and the morning/ That brightens up the sky.The cold wind in the winter,/ The pleasant summer sun,/The ripe fruits in the garden,/ He made them every one.The tall trees in the greenwood,/The meadows where weplay,/ The rushes by the water,/ To gather every day.He gave us eyes to see them,/ And lips that we might tell/How great is God Almighty,/ Who has made all thingswell.All things bright and beautiful,/ All creatures great andsmall,/ All things wise and wonderful:/ The Lord Godmade them all.
The rich man in his castle,The poor man at his gate,He made them, high or lowly,And ordered their estate. All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as towar,With the cross of Jesus going on before.Christ, the royal master, leads against thefoe;Forward into battle see his banners go! -Sabine Baring-Gould
France, 1847Placide Clappeau, a French wine merchant, mayor of the French town Roquemaure, writes a poem.Adolphe Adam sets it to music.Later the song is translated into English by John S. Dwight –It is said to have been the first music ever broadcast over radio.
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!Long lay the world in sin and error pining,Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!O night divine, O night when Christ was born!O night, O holy night, O night divine!
Truly He taught us to love one another;His law is love and His Gospel is peace.Chains shall He break for the slave is our brotherAnd in His Name all oppression shall cease.Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,Let all within us praise His holy Name!Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim! 1847
The Sermons We Preach
The Sermons We Preach- Who is scapegoated/condemned? - What virtues are aspired to? - What vices are condemned? - What Scriptures are emphasized? - What subjects are avoided? And vice versa?
The Rituals We Practice
Baptism: A ritual of cleansing
Clean - uncleanAcceptance - revulsion Us - them Clean, still water Certified Gatekeepers
Meanwhile in the wilderness:The Essenes - Hyper-clearn -Hyper-puritan - Isolated communes - Multiple daily baptisms
What would it mean for John ...- to leave his father’s priestly work - to leave the Temple - to leave Jerusalem - to avoid the Essenes - and to baptize ...
in the Jordan River? - in public - in running water - in an “undeveloped” setting- with a message, not of cleanliness, but ...
rethinking, reformulation, repentance?
What does it mean forJesus to accept John’s baptism?
What would it mean for theSpirit in the form of a dove to descend upon Jesus?
And what would it mean for Jesus’ disciples toexpand John’s “guerrilla theatre” around the world?
Baptism - not into anew “hyper-clean”religion - but intoChrist, a newhumanity, a newkingdom, a new wayof life?
Peter, Acts 10:“God has shown me I should never call anyone impure or unclean.” “I now realize ... God does not show favoritism.”
Baptism into this new way ofbeing human ... Born again ... Given a new identity ... In the flowing river ... In solidarity with everyone everywhere.
In Christ ...neither Jew nor Greek ... male nor female ... slave nor free ...
In Christ ...neither Jew nor Greek ... male nor female ... slave nor free ...Christian nor nonChristian?Us or them?
Altar ofSacrifice ... toappease a hostileGod? or Table of Fellowship ... to
A table of elitism and exclusion ... or a feast of grace and reconciliation?
In John’s gospel:Bread as manna ... God’s self-giving Food, not sacrifice
For Paul ...Eucharist as passover ... not day of atonement. Meal of liberation ... Meal of anticipation ...
We don’t need to offer a sacred gift to appease a hostile God ... Rather, a gracious God offers a sacred gift of love to us ... so that we will be reconciled to God and to one another.
Sacrifice is transformed in the New Testament ...Living sacrifices (Rom 12)Sacrifice of praiseSacrifice of doing good and sharing (Hebrews)
but what about ... Christ died for our sins ....
Christ died for our sins ....The coach put in Smith for Jones. (substitute)I paid $20 for the book. (exchange)I got a ticket for speeding. (consequence)I took an aspirin for my headache. (cure)
Meal of unity ... Meal of solidarity ... Meal of one-anotherness
how will our liturgies of hostility be transformed ...
into liturgies of harmony? new identity? peace-making?
From Catherine Maresca (Catechesis of the Good Shepherd) -Finally, [Maria] Cavalletti emphasizes the importance of being specific.You can’t teach children language without teaching children a language.She writes, “Wishing to stay on a vague level without any specificcontent is the same as wanting a child to talk without using anyparticular language.”9 Some parents say they don’t want their childrento learn a particular religion because they want them to be free tochoose their own. But these children are missing the opportunity tobecome spiritually literate.To be initiated into the signs of their religious tradition creates thepossibility of grasping the signs of many traditions, and of respectingthe integrity of each of those traditions. So we need to be religious in aparticular way, true to the faith we affirm for ourselves, in order tofoster the spiritual and religious literacy of our children. world this is aservice to our children. We have to be specific.
While we don’t reject other traditions, a particularreligion has to be our starting point. To say, “I’mspiritual but not religious” is like saying, “I’m linguisticbut don’t speak any particular language.” Everyone hasinnate linguistic capacity that gets activated as onelearns a particular language or languages. Likewise,everyone has spiritual capacity that gets activated andmobilized through becoming religious in a particularway. Becoming religious in a particular way isfoundational for relating to the religious other.
Children who have learned their native language well are poisedto learn new languages with greater ease. Children who learnedthe language of their religious tradition are likewise poised tograsp the sacred signs of another tradition. As we nurture thespiritual life of young children with sacred signs, wesimultaneously build the foundation of respect and understandingfor others’ beliefs. With spiritual literacy, faith and interfaithformation work hand in hand, promoting in turn a more peacefulworld. Children, Signs, and Spiritual Literacy: An Interfaith Experience By Catherine Maresca