As with many things I tend to take a while to get around to reading what everyone else has been talking about for a while. Nelly first introduced me to Stanley Hauerwas through Living Gently in a Violent World (Resources for Reconciliation)Living Gently in a Violent World. Now one of my former housemates has helped me along with a copy of Hannah’s Child: A Theologian’s MemoirHannah’s Child – Hauerwas’s memior. I’m drinking it up.
A few weeks ago we had a session for young leaders on Spiritual Formation, which Hauerwas speaks into wonderfully saying:
Thus Jesus does not tell us that we should try to be poor in spirit, or meek or peacemeakers. He simply says that many who are called into his kingdom will find themselves so constituted. We cannot try to be meek or gentle in order to be a disciple of this gentle Jesus, but in learning to be his disciple some of us will be gentled..
Another comment caught my attention too, especially thinking back to various theological debates, and our need to try to explain everything, dot every i and cross every t:
Only in God are existence and essence one. Accordingly, our language about God is necessarily analogical, which means that theology has the task of helping the church not say more about God than needs to be said.
“Every generation tries to put its doctrine on a high shelf where the children cannot reach”
the lonely prophet speaks again… listen well
Walter Rauschenbusch (once referred to as a lonely prophet) is certainly not a name that trips off the tongue but this theologian was an important voice in the beginning of the 20th century. Several years pastoring a church beside the infamous ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ area of New York (Gangs of New York territory) left an indelible mark on him and moved him to consider the social implications of the gospel. His book ‘Christianity and the Social Crisis’ is fascinating reading.
“The salt of the earth will do its work best if not stored in casks by itself but rubbed in evenly and generously where needed. “
This is obvious that grace must permeate society not be stored up.
So often people express a frustration of mine more succinctly than I ever could.
“The wiser leaders of Christianity do not desire to monopolise the services of Christian people for the churches, but rejoice in seeing the power of religion flow out in the service of justice and mercy. Religion is less an institution and more a diffused force than ever before…”
So often it seems our churches are geared towards maintaining their own programmes and getting people involved in those. You feel guilty if you’re not committed to church stuff outside Sunday, yet often pastors and ministers forget that the job of the church is to release people to impact the world around us. To inspire us with faith, to get us believing the gospel again and to send us out to rub that salt in generously where it is needed, not in keeping it in countless ‘church’ activities. Now don’t get me wrong. I passionately believe that the local church is the hope of the world, however we need to recognise with Mark Greene that the places we spend most of our time are the places that need our Christian service most…
“Services rendered to church get a higher religious rating than services rendered to the community, thus the religious value is taken out of the activities of the common man and the prophetic services to society”