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Very interesting...

We had a very interesting church council meeting tonight - and I am soooo proud of my colleagues in ministry!  We've been asked to host a "bank fair" - an idea that is both interesting and still half-baked.  It grows out of the energy and wisdom of the "Occupy" movement and wants to find a way to explore what our small, regional banks are doing. One of the goals is to promote accountability to the common good - and this is something I celebrate. The only problem with the proposal is that there is a distinctly elitist and naively anti-business thrust to what has been shared with us to date.

And all of my council members discerned this tonight:  they talked about wanting our local institutions to be healthy, just and creative partners with us in strengthening our small community. They are neither afraid of conflict in pursuit of the call of Christ's cross nor opposed to challenging the status quo.  What they don't want, however, is unnecessary stress when we could search for common ground.  As one of my leaders said, "If you really know what people are living up against, you don't want to make it worse:  you want to make it better!"

So, rather than partner with a local PC peace and justice group, they said:  The proposal we have received just "ain't ready for prime time... it needs more work.  We would like to host this event but ONLY when it isn't so simplistic!"  And I support their commitment even though not everyone will agree.

There is a difference, you see, between propaganda and education.  All too often our secular PC friends do educational events with an established "right answer."  It is preaching to the choir, but that isn't education - or debate - or discerning where the Holy Spirit is blowing. It is upscale propaganda - and propaganda has no place in the Body of Christ.

Perhaps that is why I feel a greater kindred spirit with this pastor who both led and inspired his congregation to more meaningful action.

During the recent weeks of Lent, the Rev. Ryan Bell has led his Southern California congregation into the penitential spirit of the season. He has preached about the prophet Isaiah’s admonition “to loose the bonds of injustice.” He has replaced his church’s ebullient praise songs with somber, reflective music. He has sent his members a list of ordinary comforts to give up until Easter, with suggestions from caffeine to Facebook.
Ramin Rahimian for The New York Times
The Rev. Robert Rien closed a church bank account.                           
And Mr. Bell has committed his congregation to one other religious obligation. He is withdrawing the church’s money, several hundred thousand dollars, from its account with the Bank of America. By the April weekend when Christians mourn Jesus’ crucifixion and celebrate his resurrection, Mr. Bell said, he will have moved the assets to a local bank as a protest against Bank of America’s role in mass foreclosures and to issue a call for its repentance. (see the full article @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/10/us/churches-send-repentence-message-to-banks.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=mortgage%20crisis%20inspires%20churches&st=cse)

So tonight I give thanks to God that one of the many signs of spiritual renewal I see among my congregational leaders is the willingness to discern and wait on God's Spirit. They don't need to rush into decision making. They are not addicted to being hyper-active. And they aren't reactive to the time table of others who don't share their commitments.

Rather they are deliberate. They are willing to take time to think and pray and talk together - and wait as if God were really in charge.  Like Abraham Lincoln once said, "“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.”

This is Sabbath spirituality at its best:  if we can set aside 24 hours to wait and trust that God is really God and doesn't need us to rush to fix everything that is broken, we can also wait to let the Spirit of the Lord guide us into right action for peace and justice.  I celebrate my lay leaders tonight because they know that God is God - and in this we can rest in Christ's peace and follow. Douglas John Hall once wrote of the church:

Religion has always functioned in human life and society as a sphere of reliability, a place to stand, a "rock of ages" and "mighty fortress" - and Christian purists deceive themselves if they imagine that their faith permits no such usage... woe be to any any Christian movement that in the name of political activism or worldly engagement discards or minimizes Christ's invitation to rest... And at the same time there is always a fine line between faith and religious escapism.

I give thanks to God that my leader are willing to wrestle with this challenge: God bless them all.

Love and Truth meet in the street,
Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss!
Truth sprouts green from the ground,
Right Living pours down from the skies!
Oh yes! God gives Goodness and Beauty;
our land responds with Bounty and Blessing.
Right Living strides out before him,
and clears a path for his passage.


Comments

Katherine E. said…
Oh, bravo!! I love the idea of understanding the nuances of justice, how justice demands some spiritual maturity (and that can be a bit painful at times).

I've moved my bank account from Chase to a regional bank here in Texas. It was a hassle, but I'm glad I did it.
RJ said…
Thanks Katherine...and thanks for your witness, too.

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