Thursday, April 03, 2008

Time of the Spirit - Season of the Church

Adult Study Proposal | Early Summer 2008

In a special emphasis on the Pentecostal reign of the Spirit, in 3 class sessions we'll investigate selected texts from Galatians; Acts, Ephesians and Colossians, particularly in terms of our identity as a people uniquely constituted by Jesus' death and resurrection. We'll explore concepts of gracism and inclusion and consider a Christus Victor atonement model of Jesus' triumph over the pretense, dehumanization and violence of Roman imperial rule.

The congregation at Galatia was the first ethnic church; we need to become more aware of our own conscious and unconscious cultural and other attachments that lead to our living and proclaiming either more than our less than the gospel. As Martin Luther insists, worship and hymn-singing in the vernacular is a mark of the true Church; we also need to contextualize, cast into local vernacular (but there's not just one!) our outreach to our neighbors. How can we fully bring others into our congregation's life of worship, witness and service and also graciously receive their gifts of hospitality when they invite us closer to the centers of their worlds?

In his books Multicultural Ministry: finding your church's unique rhythm and Gracism: The Art of Inclusion, David A. Anderson, pastor of Bridgeway Community Church in Baltimore writes about Gracism, a word comprised of "racism" preceded by the letter "g" for God. "Gracism" encourages people to extend favor to others based on their unique class, culture, ability, color or other distinctions, and to make that preference visible and apparent. How can we become gracists with each other and with newcomers?

The synoptic gospels, the undisputed epistles of Paul and deutero-Paul ring with language of Roman imperialism and domination. What deathly economic, political and cultural forces control and determine our contemporary situation? Can we live and proclaim a Christianity as explicitly anti-imperial as that of the early churches, when to be ekklesia still was primarily political rather than religious or theological? What Word of Life does the cross of Calvary and the empty tomb of Easter dawn speak and enact here in this corner of Paradise in 2008? As we live in Christ, does our theology become our biography to a sufficient degree to liberate and redeem our neighbors from their false allegiances? Can we grasp the stories of Jesus' birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension in ways that challenge our understanding of society and our fundamental loyalties?

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