Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Safety and Stability?

fromAn Emergent Manifesto of Hope edited by Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, from Pagitt's intro to Part 2: Communities of Hope:

"...as religious people we often have a strange relationship with the new. Often there is a greater level of mistrust of the new in religious circles than in many other disciplines. I have a theory on this. I think that for many people religion is meant to conserve, to keep, to protect. Religion is often at its finest when it serves to anchor people in the midst of turbulent change-to be a safe harbor in the midst of a storm of change. Many of us assume that our religion ought to provide certainty in uncertain times, safety when it is not clear where trust can be found. God is the only unchanging reality in a sea of change, so for religion to be engaged with the new can seem to undermine its very purpose.

While immovablity can be a fine role for religion, it may not serve the story of God's action in the world very well. It seems to me that the story of God's agenda for the world has often found itself at odds with our desires for a religion of safety and stability.

It may be that the story of God's activity in the world is more like wind, fire, or water than an anchor or safe ground. I don't think it is possible to tell the story of faith from the posture of sameness and stability, for it is a story of invovlement and activity."


As General Conference draws near for the United Methodist Church, I believe that we must hear these words and ask ourselves what work we will do during our time together that embraces the new, that seeks to be authentic, to be involved and active in what is going on in the world around us? Are we seeking to build and maintain a denomination or church that is safe and stable for the faithful or involved and active in the lives of those on the margins, those "least of these" Jesus taught us to serve through His life, ministry, death, and resurrection? Will we be about spreading the Good News-acknowledging its "new-ness" or re-hash the same institutional jargon designed to operate in the most cost-effective and efficient manner?

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