Canon Herbert O’Driscoll visited St. Laurence, Coquitlam on February 23 and 24, 2013 and provided a sumptuous feast of insight into Scripture and the essence of Christian faith. With his characteristic humility, humour and godly insight into who we are as human beings in the presence of the mystery of God, Herb invited us to join together to “taste and see that the Lord is good”.
Herb began with insights into the cosmic shift that has taken place in Western society since the 1960’s, likening it to the changes encountered if we were to move from Earth to Mars as detailed in Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. In each age the Church has faced new challenges, Herb reminded us, drawing on the kind of analysis central to Phyllis Tickle’s The Great Emergence. Herb’s gift for ‘visual teaching’ was displayed in abundance as he paced out the centuries on the floor and characterized the cultural context of the Christian gospel in each era. Wonderful insights presented in suitable dramatic fashion. “We are all the early Christians of the 21st century; we have to reform and rediscover…discover the wonder of it all again.” A feast indeed.
Reminding us to step beyond the strictures that the Enlightenment of the 18th century has placed on the last 200 years plus of Western Christian theology and practice, Herb urged an exploration of specific aspects of our great heritage that invite rediscovery – including the heritage of Eastern Orthodox Christian practice and approach to the ‘Faith once delivered to the Saints’. In that context, we need to stop sweating about getting the belief right – a quest that has always divided Christians – and begin with submitting to the mystery that is God and the unfolding of that mystery in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We need to learn to celebrate and communicate the Great Story which is ours, and invite others into its mystery and power.
Long established in the insights currently being explored in Brian McLaren’s latest book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? O’Driscoll reminded us that we’ve created a separate category of life called “religion” and conveniently separated it from human life as a whole. Thus we have stripped our Great Story of its power along with the great stories of the world’s other major sacred traditions. We owe it to the Great Story revealed in Scripture to affirm it in all its fulness as we journey through Lent and approach Easter once again. We owe it to ourselves as Christians journeying with Jesus in the Anglican Way to embrace the fullness of who we are in Christ.
In that wonderful and inspiring context created for us by O’Driscoll’s this past weekend, is the challenge that Brian McLaren lays before us to live as an Easter People:
“Then Easter dawns. The scandal of Easter was not simply that a supernatural event occurred. Minds in the ancient world weren’t divided by the rigid natural-supernatural dualism that forms modern minds. In those days miracles were notable not for defying the laws of nature (a concept that was unknown until recent centuries), but for conveying an unexpected meaning or message through an unusual or unexplainable medium. What was the scandalous meaning conveyed by the resurrection of Jesus? It was not simply that a dead man was raised. It was who the raised man was. Someone rejected, mocked, condemned, and executed by both the political and religious establishments was raised. A convicted outlaw, troublemaker, and rabble rouser was raised. A nonviolent nonconformist who included the outcasts — and therefore became an outcast — was raised….
What might happen if every Easter we celebrated the resurrection not merely as the resuscitation of a single corpse nearly two millennia ago, but more — as the ongoing resurrection of all humanity through Christ? Easter could be the annual affirmation of our ongoing resurrection from violence to peace, from fear to faith, from hostility to love, from a culture of consumption to a culture of stewardship and generosity…and in all these ways and more, from death to life….What if Easter was about our ongoing resurrection “in Christ” — in a new humanity marked by a strong-benevolent identity as Christ-embodying peacemakers, enemy lovers, offense forgivers, boundary crossers, and movement builders?”
(Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World, pp. 174-175 Brian McLaren, New York: Jericho books 2012)
This is our Christ story. In it we live and move and have our being. Thanks be to God!
Rev. Steve Bailey is a deacon at St. Laurence, Coquitlam and a blogmaster at New
Westminster Anglican Blog.