People sometimes complain that they cannot relate to the God of the Bible, a God who at times seems vengeful, violent and cruel. This is often posed as a difference between the Old Testament and the New—that the former is frightening while the latter is compassionate. But this oversimplifies the case which, in truth, depicts God as equally angry and loving in both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.
This Lent we invite you to explore this dilemma through a study of Bob Purdy’s book, “Without Guarantee: In Search of a Vulnerable God”. As a retired Anglican priest (and former rector of St. Stephen’s) with over fifty years’ experience in the ministry, Bob knows this dilemma from the inside out, especially how damaging the image of an angry God can be to people struggling with power issues in their own lives.
Recognizing the predominance of biblical “power” imagery relating to God—God as “King”, the “Almighty”, “Judge”—Bob searches our tradition for that “other” God, the God who is also compassionate, giving, and ultimately vulnerable, that is, open to being hurt and even rejected by God’s own creatures. In the end, he says these characteristics are not only more accessible to us, they are ultimately more life-giving.
Join us on Tuesday evenings, March 11 through April 8, from 7:30 to 9, as we follow Bob’s search for a vulnerable God and make important discoveries along the way that will open new doors to our own active, inquisitive and compassionate faith.
MAKING OUR “HOUSE” A HOME’
It takes a while before a new “house” becomes a “home”. We begin of course by making the place functional. We arrange our furnishings, we hang curtains, we hook up the phone lines. We could stop there, but we don’t. Because the next step is to decorate the space with familiar items that say, “This is MY space.” So we hang pictures, we display cherished keepsakes, we create the comfortable nooks and crannies where we can recline and “be at home” with ourselves. Down the line we may take on larger projects that further define the space by our particular tastes. We might paint a room, change the carpet, even take out a wall or install hardwood.
Here at St. Stephen’s we have moved into our newly renovated space, we have made it functional. But now we are making our “house” a “home”. To help us “own” our new space we are offering a workshop on Saturday, March 22, led by Keri Weylander. Keri is the editor of “Creating Change: The Arts as a Catalyst for Spiritual Transformation”, about the creative things churches have done to adapt their sacred space for ministry and mission (available for $25 at our new Merch Table).
Keri will lead us in an engaging consideration of our own space—of how our new “house” of worship can become a “home”, both to us and to others. The workshop is for any church members who are drawn to this satisfying task. Please plan to join us.
MORE THAN WE CAN ASK OR IMAGINE
At the parish AGM last Sunday, we re-elected our three Synod delegates: Jean Springer, Blake Kanewischer and Heather Campbell. This year will be their first chance to represent St. Stephen’s at Synod, in the debates that will shape the future of our Diocese. But what do Diocesan issues have to do with St. Stephen’s? We are a healthy, forward-looking parish, and if other Anglican parishes aren’t so healthy or creative, why should that hold us back?
Being part of the Diocese is about more than paying our apportionment and arranging as much independence as possible, and there’s more to it than what others can learn from how great we are. In preparation for Synod, Bishop Greg has convened two “Un-Synods”, facilitated conversations between parishes, to discern what we are called to build together as the body of Christ, how we can work together to become more than we can be alone. This is totally consistent with what we believe at
St. Stephen’s: that diversity is not a barrier, that our differences actually are a gift, that we can do more together – though it’s harder work – than we can do alone. And we believe that the ‘strong’ have just as much to learn from the ‘weak’ as they have to share. It’s as true between parishes as it is between people: when we come together across differences, God’s power working in us really can do more than we can ask or imagine. And this is the gift a Diocese can offer.
Click the Play Button To Listen Now Continue reading