Tuesday, July 4, 2017

On a Day about Allegiance - A Word for the Church

Wes Granberg-Michaelson

Dietrich Bonhoeffer continually asked this question: “Who is Jesus Christ for us today?” That question, asked in any time, and accompanied by a clear discernment of the times, will undermine the power and authority of any regimes intent on imposing a reign based on the prerogatives of privilege, race, wealth, and might....We know how important it is to say what we believe, and what we mean . . . But the danger is to believe that once we say it correctly, and get the words planted in our heads, then our hearts will automatically follow, shaping our lives... It requires more than the persuasion of well-crafted words analyzing our present context and commending action, to prompt participation in God’s mission in such a time as this. This takes the unfettered allegiance of people’s hearts, and the formation of their lives of discipleship. Countless pernicious forces press in the opposite direction, lulling the church back into complicit comfort, condoning narrow, nationalistic loyalties, offering the subtle idols of personal success and material reward, and promoting forms of spiritual escapism. It takes spiritual resistance, nurtured in communities of faithful disciples, to confront and overcome those forces. That was Bonhoeffer’s lesson at Finkenwalde, and should be our own today . . . It’s a journey from the necessity of words to the formation of lives, from the announcement of our declarations to the pronouncement of our discipleship, and from the frenzy of our activity to the building of Christian community. This pilgrimage poses these questions along the way: Are we ready to live into our identity as a communion, expecting that we are covenanted together as communities of faithful discipleship obedient to the kairos nature of this time? Can we truly place our commitment as WCRC to join in the movement of God’s mission, at the center of our Communion’s life and identity? Are we willing to direct our Communion’s material and spiritual resources toward learning from the practices at Finkenwalde, and all the places like that today, from Belhar to Bethlehem, and from Matanzas to Manado? Can we nurture the formation of Christian faith in communities of missional discipleship that can respond to the test of this time? And will this compel us to participate courageously and joyfully in God’s reconciling and redeeming mission in the world? That is the pathway for the Living God to Renew and Transform Us."

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