Devotional Thought of the Day.
26 Whenever you eat this bread, then, and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Therefore anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily is answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone is to examine himself and only then eat of the bread or drink from the cup; 29 because a person who eats and drinks without recognising the body is eating and drinking his own condemnation. 1 Corinthians 11:26-29 (NJB)
In these dire cultural circumstances, the social and political effects of which are sometimes masked by material prosperity, it was providential indeed that the deep reform of Catholicism initiated in the late nineteenth century by Leo XIII should have passed through a recovery of Word and Sacrament as the two pillars of the life of Christian discipleship. The life-transforming power of the Word of God in the words of the Bible is the Church’s countercultural riposte to the postmodern deprecation of the human capacity to know the deep truths of the human condition. The sacraments are Evangelical Catholicism’s countercultural antidote to the regnant Gnosticism of later modernity and postmodernity, because the Church’s sacramental system takes the stuff of the world and of human relationships with utmost seriousness, seeing in them the vehicles of divine grace.(1)
For about the past ten years professors and theologians have been advising pastors that since we now live in a “post-modern” and “post denominational” culture, that we need to change our ministry to address these new outlook on lfe – and indeed, change how we minister to others. Some of this has resulted in things like the two movements that have dominated conversation – the emergent and emerging churches. ( I highly recommend Jim Belcher’s book “Deep Church” to clarify what the differences are.
For those outside of the conversation – postmodernism is that outlook on life that is basically skeptical, that questions not only our institutions and ways of doing things – but questions the reasons we have developed that way. It is not a organized thought, for postmmodernists even question each other, but is often portrayed as the idea that there is no objective reality – and no objective truth. Personally, as a post-modernist, I wonder if it is not just the opposite. That we have found so many things wanting, when we question their presuppositions, that we long for something to grasp onto, to hold onto – to find that there is something solid – and that there is… hope.
I think that rather than doing battle with such, or mocking them, we have a much better approach – a very very Biblical one. We give them the reason we have hope – and rather than dealing with faulty reason or logic – we through the arts, through our simplicity, and with great humility, we share with them why we do have hope. We share with them a relationship that is real, and transcendent/incarnate. We let them experience the God who comes to us.
Put in terms a Lutheran or Catholic can understand – the answer to postmodern thought is not an engagement in debate where we provide there is an objective reality. The answer is word and sacrament. We introduce them to Him, to the Objective Reality who really desires to be with them, to show them great love, to reveal Himself to them, as the Holy Spirit as they hear the word of God – as they hear of His love and mercy and presence and grace, As we share with them the promises, the things they can expect because God loves them. We share with them what it means to “commune with God”, simply at first, from scripture. We use stories and modern music and art – the kind which captivates the senses, even as those things did in the middle ages. We engage them at a level where there skepticism and unbelief is put aside, and where they know this is more than what our minds can take in, and that it is real…
But this will require one thing of us, that we know what we are revealing – that church becomes more than an intellectually stimulating and entertaining time. That we realize that walking with God is a sacred thing. That we walk in the relationship with the God who comes to us, and cleanses us, and heals our brokenness.
That we experience Him, as He reveals Himself to us, in the very word ans sacraments which we will share with them.
As we do what the psalmist begs us to do…. to “be still – and (intimately) know that I am God.”
(1) Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (p. 47). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.
Today’s Devotional/Discussion thought…
A quote for leaders… (of every kind)
11:1 And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NLT)
This verse ends a chapter which requires great humility, as we hear Paul talk about not giving offense which would inhibit another’s walk with Christ. As a pastor, and one who works with broken churches, ( every church is broken, some brokenness is simply more visible) I hear these stories all the time. A former pastor who may or may not have cared, a phrase uttered in the midst of a longer conversation, but that stuck with those who heard it. Pains that are decades old, but still as tender, and then something rips the scabs off, releasing a flow of blood that may cleanse the wound, or may allow for infection, given the way it was treated.
That is where imitating Christ needs to become a focal point for leadership – where we put aside what we desire, and sometimes, yeah – what we need. We set aside ourselves that we can be there to nurse the wounded to strength, to encourage their trust in Jesus, to bring them to the altar – not drive them out of the church because we were irritated by them.
That is Christian leadership. I like how I came across Christ’s leadership in this manner in my devotions this morning.
Our Lord is on the Cross saying, I am suffering so that men, who are my brothers, may be happy, not only in Heaven, but also—as far as possible—on earth, if they really embrace the most Holy Will of my heavenly Father. (1)
To my friends in leadership, whether in the church, in government or business, to those who lead from an office, or simply have influence which people follow – please lead sacrificially, lead in such a way that people can embrace God’s embrace of them, in such a way that God’s will is made manifest, and they can rejoice. Serve, not command. Be willing to suffer, in small and large ways. As one who tries to live this, and is occasionally successful …. the rewards of seeing people embraced by God is more than worth whatever inconvenience, or pain.
Imitate Christ, that others may imitate you…..
and when you struggle to make that sacrifice…cry out to Him, and He will have mercy.. AMEN!
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1123-1126). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.