This Week at St. Stephen’s–April 13, 2014

A HOLY AND LIFE-GIVING SEASON

Apr 13Though Christmas is the more popular Christian festival, it is Easter that claims the more central place in our Christian tradition. Stories of the miraculous birth of Jesus began circulating only after the early disciples experienced their Lord as living among them after he had died. In a sense the Christmas story is an answer to the question, How would our Risen Lord have come into the world? In other words, first they experienced the Resurrection, and then they looked back and imagined the Nativity.

Yet in a way both stories point to the same essential Christian truth: God is alive in our midst, and we can find new life through God’s indwelling Spirit. Using the story of Jesus’ life, we imagine a similar spiritual trajectory in our own lives: God is born into the world, often in adverse circumstances, full of life-giving possibility. Life is hard and tests our belief that God really is with us, yet we learn to trust in God and so find fresh strength to live our lives. Eventually we surrender our lives to the mystery of death, only to discover that God is there too, guiding us to an even more glorious existence on the other side.

This is the awesome power of God we celebrate every time we gather. Our God is a living Force flowing through us, inviting us, from birth to death, to claim life’s journey for ourselves … and truly, faithfully, to live it! Blessings, this holy and life-giving Season!

This Week at St. Stephen’s–April 06, 2014

IN SEARCH OF A VULNERABLE GOD

APR 06Throughout the Lenten season we have been studying Bob Purdy’s book, “Without Guarantee: In Search of a Vulnerable God”. If God is love, Bob asks, can God also be powerful? Does not love mean life-giving, merciful, compassion? Does not power imply domination? Can love and power ever be used together?

We considered all religious language as metaphorical, that is, describing that which is essentially elusive by way of comparisons. So while we cannot describe God literally, as we would an object, we can say God is like a loving parent, or like a rushing wind. Every time we do, we choose an image that fits our experience. Likewise, we can always choose new images that better fit our experience … which is exactly what Bob is encouraging us to do.

God is love, Bob reminds us, meaning that God chooses to serve the world rather than dominate it. Any language that implies that God wants to intimidate us, harm us, manipulate us, or interfere with us … this language must change to reflect the deeper truth of God’s compassion.

But what would this mean for the church? What would a church look like that believed in the radical nature of its own message? How does one pray to a “vulnerable” God? How do we preach this God to ourselves and reveal this God to the world?

This will be the topic for our closing session this Tuesday at 7:30. Everyone is invited to join us as we re-imagine God’s church!