I’m sure my mail carrier is immensely amused by the variety of things she deposits on my doorstep! Today brought a package of books for review for Quest magazine – some feminist theology, a biography of Elias Ashmole, and a vegan cookbook. Hmmmm….. I think the editor knows me…. 🙂
Here’s a lovely bit from Carlyle Marney, which applies equally well to those in traditional structures and alternative communities:
Life in the church is koinonia (fellowship). This is what we mean when we speak of persons as means of grace. We mean that we meet God in each other. When church is church, life is koinonia, both as church-gathered and church-dispersed. Life is life in common wherever you are. Koinonia means to know as you are known: to be known utterly by one who calls you forth, whom you meet in the brother, before whom it is safe to come as you are. Wherever he is being made whole and well, man is in church; wherever his burdens and need become my hunger and task, our wills merge and we hear God. (Priests to Each Other, p.14)
A little further on, Marney says, “Through this wicket gate of hearing, the door that is open and cannot be shut discloses a holy place.” Such a disclosure of a holy place happened in the cohort discussion yesterday. We were able to have a dialogue about a difficult topic like evangelism, with some very strongly expressed opinions ranging from the Traditional Orthodox to the Panentheist Pluralist. No one was killed, no pizza was thrown. Despite some raised eyebrows here and there, it seemed to me that everyone was heard, however vigorous the disagreements.
For me, the high point of yesterday’s meeting was when Dixon asked folks to define what they meant by “the gospel.” There were many interesting answers. (With the Will Campbell talk coming up that evening, I am surprised that no one mentioned his famous condensation: “We’re all bastards but God loves us anyway.”) Thomas (http://ihajj.blogspot.com) offered simply, “The gospel is Jesus” Not a set of metaphysical propositions, or ethical standards, or even stories — although all those may be very much involved in the unpacking of the gospel. Rather, the gospel is a person into whose life we are drawn – with all the irreducible uniqueness and many facets that come with any relationship to another person. Much to ponder here – from someone in the conversation who is much more traditional than I am, but for whom I have great respect.