From the Pastor….

If there has been any small blessing in our inability to worship inside the sanctuary, it has been to disconnect our Christian practice from a specific location. It has reminded us that, while we can be grateful for a place to meet together for worship, fellowship, and spiritual growth, our place of service is in the world. Too often the building becomes the boundary, rather than a starting point.

In addition to disconnecting from too close an identification with a location, we must also disconnect from any ideology beyond our faith in Christ. While each of us may have some political views, we must give both primary and ultimate allegiance to Jesus Christ. This allegiance is primary, because it must be considered before any decision or practice, and it is ultimate, because any decision or practice in conflict with our faith must be discarded.

The Hebrews under Moses had a practice that can serve as a model for a Christian stance in relation to the world:

“Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp; he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp” (Exodus 33:7).

Father Richard Rohr comments on that verse: “The ‘tent of meeting’ is the initial image and metaphor that eventually became our much later notion of “church.” Moses had the prescience and courage to move the place of hearing God outside and at a distance from the court of common religious and civic opinion—this was the original genius that inspired the entire Jewish prophetic tradition. It is quite different than the mere liberal and conservative positions, and often even at odds with them. Most of liberalism is based on a secular foundation of knowledge, and most of conservatism is identified with boundary-keeping, order, and control. By contrast, Prophecy and Gospel are rooted in a contemplative and non-dual way of knowing—a way of being in the world that is utterly free and grounded in the compassion of God.”

I particularly like that last phrase, “a way of being in the world that is utterly free and grounded in the compassion of God.” This contrasts so starkly with what I often see in Christians. Rather than being free, they are chained to a particular ideology. Rather than being grounded in the compassion of God, they utilize the language of Christianity to justify their self-centered actions. 

The writer of Hebrews chose the “outside the camp” metaphor in a call to the early Christians. “Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured” (Hebrews 13:13). 

Abuse is quite likely what you will have to endure if you choose to stand alongside Christ and seek to heal the divisions between people. But it is the high calling that we have received with our baptism. And it is the way that leads to life – both for ourselves and others.