In the last two days Marcus Borg, teacher and scholar, posted a two-part essay on the Meaning of the Cross for Christians. Part 1 described the understanding of the cross held by many (most?) 21st century Christians in the United States (Jesus “paid” for our sins). Part 2 described ancient understandings of the Cross (understandings lost when the currently dominant theme of payment ascended in the 12th century). How is the Spirit speaking to the Church through this scholar? How is the meaning of the Cross (and Resurrection) expanded or narrowed for you? I commend the two essays to you:
Part 1. Christianity Divided by the Cross
For Christianity from its beginning, the cross has always mattered. The crucial question is: what does it mean? Why does it matter? What is its significance?
Part 2. The Real Meanings of the Cross
In earliest Christianity, the cross of Jesus (always also including his resurrection) was utterly central. Central as revelation of God’s passion and Jesus’s passion for the transformation of this world; and as revelation of the way, the path, of personal transformation.
I invite your comments as we continue the conversation.
“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. … For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Galatians 5:1, 13-14
Read on Sunday, June 30, 2013
The Revised Common Lectionary provided a very rich fare on Sunday, June 30th. I bring the wind chimes out of storage to keep the music (of the Spirit) going into this new week. Here is a sample of a commentary on Sunday’s reading from Galatians (Chapter 5, verses 1 and 13-25):
Paul makes the strongest possible emphasis on the “you” plural address. Again he frames the sentence with words describing the addressees: “You all,” “brothers,” “You all have been chosen for freedom.” He repeats the confident assertion of 5:1 by making personal and direct and clear, that “you all” have been chosen for freedom indeed, but Paul moves on very quickly to define the freedom.
It is not a wild, abstract freedom from restraint. Paul’s freedom does not create the culture we have become — at least not in his mind or on purpose. Paul proclaims the freedom with the passive voice of having been chosen by an implied agent, God. To be chosen by God for freedom, to have been freed by Christ is to have been freed from the dire results of life lived apart from God. It is also a call into freedom that in some ways mirrors God’s own, that is a freedom dedicated to serving others in love.
I encourage you to read the entire Commentary on Galatians 5:1, 13-25 by Sarah Henrich on Working Preacher.
You must love your neighbor as yourself
The chimes are moving freely again. The sounding of the chimes reminds me of love.
What do you hear?
“The spirit of Christ must be the soul of all real social reconstruction.”
Toyohiko Kagawa (1888 – 1960)
Since 2009 the Episcopal Church has been exploring a revised Liturgical Calendar titled Holy Women, Holy Men. Stories of women and men living exemplary lives are finding a wider audience. The stories call forth the best in us and pose questions for us who continue our journey on the Way. Today, April 23rd, the church remembers Toyohiko Kagawa a “Prophetic Witness in Japan.”
Toyohiko Kagawa was a
“Japanese Christian social reformer. He came of a wealthy family and received his early education in a Buddhist monastery. After conversion to Christianity and disinheritance by his family, he studied at the *Presbyterian seminary at Kobe from 1905 to 1908. Here he became acutely conscious of Christian responsibility in the face of existing social evils and spent several years among the poor in the bad slums of Shinkawa. In 1914 he went to Princeton, USA, to study modern social techniques, and after returning to Japan in 1917 devoted himself entirely to the improvement of social conditions.”
Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
Within the political rhetoric of our country today, we who follow Christ, who follow the Way (of Love) can best love our neighbor if we can hold fast to that ancient truth discovered and lived by Toyohiko Kagawa: “The spirit of Christ must be the soul of all real social reconstruction.”
There’s a peaceful rhythm to sounds in the chimes today. The melody is simple:
have the Spirit of Christ … have the Spirit of Christ …have the Spirit of Christ
What do you hear?
Readings for Day Six — Walking beyond barriers
Ruth 4:13-18 | The offspring of Ruth and Boaz
Psalm 113 | God the helper of the needy
Ephesians 2:13-16 | Christ has broken down the dividing wall between us
Matthew 15:21-28 | Jesus and the Canaanite woman
To walk humbly with God means walking beyond barriers that divide and damage the children of God. Christians in India are aware of the divisions among themselves. The treatment of Dalits within the churches and between them is a church-dividing issue that betrays the biblical vision of that unity for which we pray this week. 2013-WPCU-Readings-and-Prayers
Prayer on Day Six
Father, forgive us for the barriers of greed, prejudice, and contempt that we continually build which separate us within and between churches, from people of other faiths, and from those we consider to be less important than us. May your Spirit give us courage to cross these boundaries, and to tear down the walls that disconnect us from each other. Then with Christ may we step forth into unknown terrain, to carry his message of loving acceptance and unity to all the world. God of life, lead us to justice and peace. Amen.
Image: School of Theology & Ministry, Seattle University