Here’s a thought that occurred to me during this season of  eating, drinking and merriment.

Like ethnic cultures throughout the world,  much of Jesus’ ministry occurred over meals. As a matter of fact, Jesus was accused of being a glutton and drunkard more than once. Often, he could be found eating and drinking with prostitutes and tax collectors. And when it came to how he wanted us to remember him, it was over a meal. I think Jesus tied his life and death into this one event. The Love Feast. Communion. Eating and Drinking.

So during this past holiday season, I tried to live this a little more intentionally. For instance, during my company’s Christmas dinner, I ate and drank in remembrance of Jesus. Christmas eve, Christmas day and boxing day, I ate and drank with family. New Years day, I ate and drank. All in remembrance of Jesus – his life and his death & resurrection.

I don’t want to make lite over the times of sharing communion with fellow believers. However, I am coming to believe that we have turned communion into a ritualistic tradition.  Our communion services feel more like the ritualistic, ceremonial washings seen during the wedding in Cana. Jesus took the stone water jars that were set apart for ceremonial washing and turned that sacred water into wine. We have taken the bread and wine that Jesus gave us to remember him by and set them apart, turning them into sacred juice and crackers. Jesus took sacred, set apart things and subverted them; are we taking a meal and setting it apart and making it sacred – subverting the very work of Jesus?

Was God present in the ritualistic washings? Could be. Is he present in our times of communion? Probably. My understanding of Daddy is that he in not looking at us to perform properly in order that he could bless us, but he blesses us wherever we are. It is not our actions and beliefs that separate us from the God but it is our attitudes and our heart.

Its like the sinner and righteous man who attended a wedding. The sinner kept washing in the sacred ceremonial washing jars, humbly and in an attitude thankfulness to God. The righteous man looked down on the sinner and proclaimed to God that he was thankful that he was free from rituals and that he was not like the sinner who still was stuck in the old ways. Who was God more pleased with?

So, if we believe that God is present even when we are not doing it right, is there any value in seeking to get it right?

I believe that God is present and active in our communion services where we use set apart emblems rather than have an actual meal and experience communion within the context of that meal. I believe that the former is a dualistic ritual of the holistic latter. That being the case, what is the value in our remembering the Lord’s death until he comes one way over the other?

Over this coming year, I will not take communion in a ritualistic manner. Instead I’ll try and have the attitude of communion every time I eat and drink. I am setting apart this year for eating, drinking and merriment!

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For some reason, this time of year is when we are all reflecting on the past year and anticipating the one to come.

However, rather than dissecting the past 12 months – in which my life and faith has been whipped around on a roller coaster ride that only came to rest a little over a month ago; rather than try and figure out where this new life will lead me in the coming months; I figured that I would take stalk of where I am today.

This list of core convictions is modified from the Anabaptist Network UK set of Core Convictions.

  1. Jesus is my example, teacher, friend, redeemer and Lord. He is the source of  my life, the central reference point for my faith and lifestyle.
  2. Jesus is the focal point of God’s revelation. I am committed to a Jesus-centred approach to the Bible, and to the community of faith as the primary context in which I read the Bible and discern and apply its implications for discipleship.
  3. I am committed to learning from the experience and perspectives of the whole body such as Anabaptists, Orthodox, Catholics, Emergents – especially those that rejected standard Christendom assumptions and pursue alternative ways of thinking and behaving.
  4. The frequent association of the church with status, wealth and force has been inappropriate for followers of Jesus and has damaged our witness. I am committed to exploring ways of being good news to the poor, powerless and persecuted; and of living out the good news as the poor, powerless and persecuted as required.
  5. Community is called to be the catalyst of discipleship as well as to be missional. I am committed to nurturing and developing any such expression of community as it crosses my path.
  6. In this individualist and consumerist culture and in a world where economic injustice is rife, I am committed to finding ways of living simply, sharing generously and working for justice.
  7. Peace is at the heart of the gospel. As a follower of Jesus in a divided and violent world I am committed to non-violence and to learning how to make peace between individuals, within and among communities, in society and between nations, and with the natural world.

I believe in God. Daddy and Creator.
I believe in Jesus. Lord, and the ultimate revelation of God.
I believe in the Holy Spirit.

I believe in the continuing work of the Messiah;

in issuing in the Kingdom of God,
in bringing all creation into reconciliation,
in giving us the ministry of reconciliation.

As this year comes to a close, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on what has been a turbulent and yet remarkably fulfilling year. A year of great doctrinal stretching that has followed a number of years of dormancy.

Up until a year ago I could have been called a conservative, mildly charismatic evangelical. I held loosely to six day creationism and had recently rejected the Hal Lindsay end times scenario, however, both these sets of beliefs are outlined in the margins of my first bible. I’m not saying that I accepted every thing that was taught to me, I have always been like Doug Pagitt describes himself in A Christianity Worth Believing: “I am a contratian.” I have had both my wife and mother-in-law in tears because I destroyed long held beliefs that they held, so I have not been adverse to change.

However, this past year my faith has been re-wakened and all the filters that I used to viewed my world and to interpret scripture have been torn down. I no longer look at life through a conservative filter, nor a charismatic or evangelical filter. I’m not naive enough to think that I don’t still have filters but I am at least aware that they are there. I have in my arsonal a wide range of filters that I can knowingly pick up and look at the facts that are presented to me (including the old ones that I layed aside).

So what are the issuses that I have wrestled with?

  • I would now call my self an evolutionary creationist.
  • I am currently a strict pacifist. (Violence and the threat of violence is only valid for a political entity which the kingdom of God is not.)
  • I believe that church should be a communitas and not an institution.
  • I believe in Jesus’ definition of church leadership – that of a child or a slave (one without authority). Leadership in the kingdom should be leadership by example of character and of sound doctrine. Not lording doctrine but living it.
  • I am post-charismatic.
  • I have come to believe in a cross of cure not punishment. The cross was not the substitute for my punishment but the cure for my sin. This describes the God of love far better.
  • And I am currently wrestling with the morality of a God that would create us with freewill set us up for failure; create a place of endless torment for those who fail; and send the majority of humanity to this eternal hell. If that is God then I am ready to walk away. If I, an evil man would not even submit an Adolf Hitler to such a destiny, then how much more a Heavenly Father.

I have been influence by:

My goal for this new year is to blog regularly. Not to add yet another voice to the conversation, though that may happen, but to be a record of the process I hope will continue into the coming year.

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Don’t believe every thing you think!