Lent is coming and with it the series of Wednesday night studies based on Marcus Borg’s Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power – and How They Can Be Restored at St. Laurence, Coquitlam.
Borg captures and communicates much of the passion and revolutionary nature of Jesus and his early followers. He helps us liberate Christian commitment from layer upon layer of accumulated dogma and cultural/philosophical frameworks that have truncated the Gospel and conflated the Gospel with imperial and economic power and exploitation and a ‘sin and salvation’ model which has led to Jesus’ followers at many times through Christian history ignoring or even fighting against the Dream of God.
It’s handy to reduce human sinfulness to personal peccadilloes and individual breeches of a moral code. That makes it easy to forget the Dream of God for social justice, human dignity and relationships based on God’s expressed potential for us as the creation of God, the people of God: the very things that Jesus talked about and for which he gave his life as the Fulness of God and the Fulness of humanity.
Rather than embracing God’s vision and mission, we are ofttimes content to settle into our certainties and wallow in the bigness of our littleness. In doing so we continue to alienate people from Christ and his Church and thus frustrate the work of the Holy Spirit. But Borg challenges us to go beyond all that. He challenges us to develop a framework of Christian faith that is salt and light, that inspires us, as Christians, to generate and participate in mission and ministry activities of countless variety – arising out of our own community context and the perceived needs around us.
As Borg writes, “…the central message of Christianity is simple. It is about loving God and loving what God loves. That means loving God as disclosed in the Bible and most decisively revealed in Jesus. Jesus is the incarnation, the embodiment, of what can be seen of God’s character and passion in a life lived among us. His passion was the kingdom of God – what life would be like on a transformed earth. The world is God’s passion.” Now that’s good news indeed! As Paul puts it in Romans 8, “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. The Dream of God is that we live into this blessed hope, letting it inform all our human values and relationships and our stewardship of the world in which we live.
So part of Lent at St. Laurence, Coquitlam will be to reclaim this vision. And as Borg reminds us, in order to do so, we must reclaim Christian language in all its fulness. Together we will pore over some of the great words and concepts that challenge us to grow in our Christian commitment. We will use Lent as a time of inspection, reconsideration and recommitment to that which we celebrate in Easter and the Resurrection.
If you have no study plans for Lent, please feel free to join us at 7:30 Wednesday evenings at St. Laurence, 825 St. Laurence Street, Coquitlam beginning February 29.
Steve Bailey is a deacon at St Laurence, Coquitlam, and one of the blogmasters of New Westminster Anglican blog. Your comments and contributions are always welcome.