#Christianity, you keep saying that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means

1. Christianity to me isn’t about finding all the answers, but asking the essential questions (look at the Gospel its people asking Christ ?s and Christ asking people ?s) gathering together and acknowledging that God is bigger and greater than our understanding of things, and we’d rather see thing more God’s way than our own way, because our way is too small

2. Church is a the practice of community and worship so that when moments of extreme trouble come, you have a healthy way to bring them to God and process them. (Like fire drills). Every week isn’t revolutionary but every week is important.

3. Church is about community, there are few places where we commit to practice community with whoever comes thru the door Church is a practicum in faith just as its a place to explore spirituality.

4. Prayer is the ongoing conversation between you and God. As it is an ongoing, unique and individual conversation, my job as pastor is to act as mentor, guide and/or teacher. Where you are with God is based upon who you are, that’s why relationships with God can change a person because the two are so intertwined. This is why mature Christianity is (w)holistic Christianity. The kind where the Bible doesn’t necessarily tell you how to vote, but you have an evolved understanding of learning what God’s purpose is for the world and you apply that purpose wherever you are and as much as possible.

5. Faith is about seeking out relationships with God, people and the world. Loving things into a more real, truthful and essential existence than what they have before that love. Its not about controlling another person, quite the opposite, its freeing them to be who they are.

Millennials, Fantasy & Faith (and why does Katy keep putting them together)

Here is an article about our continued consideration of the “God is dead” question…

“Was Nietzsche right in thinking that God is dead? Is it truly the case that—as the German sociologist Max Weber, who was strongly influenced by Nietzsche, believed—the modern world has lost the capacity for myth and mystery as a result of the rise of capitalism and secularisation? Or is it only the forms of enchantment that have changed? Importantly, it wasn’t only the Christian God that Nietzsche was talking about. He meant any kind of transcendence, in whatever form it might appear. In this sense, Nietzsche was simply wrong. The era of “the death of God” was a search for transcendence outside religion. Myths of world revolution and salvation through science continued the meaning-giving role of transcendental religion, as did Nietzsche’s own myth of the Superman.

Reared on a Christian hope of redemption (he was, after all, the son of a Lutheran minister), Nietzsche was unable, finally, to accept a tragic sense of life of the kind he tried to retrieve in his early work. Yet his critique of liberal rationalism remains as forceful as ever. As he argued with masterful irony, the belief that the world can be made fully intelligible is an article of faith: a metaphysical wager, rather than a premise of rational inquiry. It is a thought our pious unbelievers are unwilling to allow. The pivotal modern critic of religion, Friedrich Nietzsche will continue to be the ghost at the atheist feast.”

 

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117082/nietzsche-and-death-god-new-books-peter-watson-terry-eagleton

 

Deep, deep thinking in this article and in these reviewed books. This is a response not only to this, but also the Pew Research Poll on Millennials (which I believe I was surveyed for)…..its time for us religious folks to look beyond culture and get creative in trying to understand where people are and why they are there–ie the unattached, economically underemployed yet hopeful millennials

This is an article the re-examines the “God is Dead” question from a modern perspective….Here is the way I understand it. Nietzsche, in light of the prominence of science, tried to make a moral code not dependent on religion.

Interestingly enough, this move away from religion relied heavily upon a “Superman” theory, in my nonexact layman’s terms think of it as the “myth of progress” which is the story/belief/mythology that humans are getting better and will always continue to get better, It is a different theory than the theology of Reformed Christianity, which states that the human condition is an imperfect/broken one, but that God intervenes to work within and among the gaps to create his new kingdom.

Here is one of the most exciting parts of this article, for me “Yet Watson is not mistaken in thinking that throughout much of the 20th century “the death of God” was a cultural fact, and he astutely follows up the various ways in which the Nietzschean imperative—the need to construct a system of values that does not rely on any form of transcendental belief—shaped thinking in many fields.”

Why, because I see where that played out in culture/the fantasy genre, and I THINK ITS CHANGING in the 22nd century!

If you are a fantasy reader, you quickly notice a trend in 20th/most of the 21st century fantasy (ie since Tolkien  formalized the genre)–technology is on the rise, and magic is recessing…sercreting itself away and becoming more and more inaccessible. Imagination is on the decline, the elves are retreating across the sea, the Ents are disappearing, Oz is put under an invisible bubble, the Neverland Fairies keep on dying, Narnia is very remote and mysterious, there is only one unicorn left and she is the last. The fantasy genre usually is a reflection of the Western understanding of spirituality. The more science comes, inevitably the less faith will play a part…..this belief was so true in 20th & 21st century.

Behold the changes

J.K. Rowling & Harry Potter: Muggles and Magic live parallel and not so separate worlds, and once you know about it, you are a part of things (and muggles and wizarding folk are all related in a myriad of ways)

Charles De Lint/Neil Gaiman: Fay are a PART of the cities, they integrate into the varied spectrum of the city, oftentimes helping to explain the richness of human interaction. Ex: Charles De Lint “ I’ve taken to calling my writing “mythic fiction,” because it’s basically mainstream writing that incorporates elements of myth and folktale, rather than secondary world fantasy.

Once Upon a Time/Fables/10th Kingdom: The meta-fairy tale genre is relatively new in literature and cemented itself in the mainstream media with Once Upon a Time. No longer are we “stuck” in one fairy tale/one kind of understanding of magic/one culture–but sectarism gives way to the fact that we can all learn from one another and get a greater understanding of ourselves and the human existence! (rather like how the internet now instantaneously exposes you to so many other stories/people than ever before)

 

I really, really think that we should be studying this change, because it signals a CULTURAL shift in how we understand the human condition and faith. No longer are we sure that technology will change everything. Instead, the increased exposure, the uncertainty of the economy and the advances in technology have all influenced the Millennials.

God Gives Enough Bread

Right after Jesus Christ Feeds a Billion people (slight exaggeration) with some crumbs of bread and fish oil (again hyperbolically speaking)….* He then speaks of himself as the bread of life. One where he references the story of Moses, God and Manna… An often overlooked piece of this story is when they gather the bread (Ex: 16:17-18)
” The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little.18 And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.” Here we have another miracle, just like the fishes and the loaves story, where everyone has enough to eat. It doesn’t matter how much they actually gathered, God provides.

In a Spiritual not religious world, I find this immensely comforting. In a world obsessed with Work (see this great: work as the new religion article here), in a world where expectation are often viewed as entitlement, in  world where “doing” things is more important than “being” things (ministry of presence, anyone? anyone? Bueller?)

Churches too often fall into the sin of work-righteousness: that’s the sin where you think what you do is more important than what God does for you, its the one where Pride literally goes before fall–from grace**. It is why church’s tend to emphasize programs instead of people, and quantity over quality of relationships. (As my mom says, better to be a great small church than the Mall of Churches where we try to do everything).

So here’s the deal. Going to church does not mean that you have more access to God. What going to church should mean is that you are willing to support one another for God, that you want to journey with others to God, that you prioritize your relationship with God and others and that you want praising God to be a thing you regularly do in your life.

God promises that there is enough nourishment, enough measure for each of us.

And God also promises that one day we will have enough, we will be nourished. One day we will be full

***

When my grandmother was incommunicative from a fall, she also didn’t want to eat. Without, her (or our) consent the hospital put a feeding tube in

.

 

Here’s the thing, I believe that there may be a time when an older person doesn’t feel hungry anymore. Its not that they are starving (which truly is a horrifying image, which is why I think the hospital put the feeding tube in). No one wants to starve grandma. But I don’t think my grandmother was starving, I think she was full, full of life, nourished by God and done with what she wanted to do. She had, had her measure. And her years were different than my grandfather’s (who had died some years before), but although they worked a different amount of time, like the Hebrews, each of them got their measure of life. At times, I think we feel like people (especially children) didn’t get their full measure, how could they when their time was so different? But, somehow, God promises that they did. And so maybe people are accessing God differently, I know my parents weren’t following twitter, reading fantasy and publishing blogs as a part of their spiritual lives, but it doesn’t make my measure any more, or any less, than other people of faith.

So why church? Because its another way for us to find community and nourishment, when so often our shares seem to be different than everyone else’s, church means we get to share in the measures of faith others have, instead of just depending, worrying, keeping up with our own. It frees us to be varied and unique, to be communal and sharing in our measures of faith. So church then becomes part of our relationships , instead of a measure of our faith….

*despite the hyperbolic Katyisms, I totally believe this miracle actually took place…

**look, look I used literally correctly!

Queer Creation: A synchroblog!!!

Queer Theology Synchroblog 2013: Queer Creation

May thanks to my AMAZING sister who wrote this essay in response to my questions!!!!

What is your favorite series to read? How does it relate to your real life experience? Does it help to inform who you are/want to be?

TORTALL_d_original

Well any week that you ask me this I’m likely to have a different answer, but right now I’d say I’m really fond of the quartets that Tamora Pierce has written. There’s a lot in there about strength in yourself and through friends, and showing strength in different ways. Alanna is fiery and forward, Keladry is more reserved and protective. Daine is compassionate and driven, Aly is resourceful and wily. But in the end, they each have some strength that pushes them forward and towards great heights. I identify with each of these women, in part for their strength and in part for how hard they fight. I’ve faced my own challenges, and I have learned to never stop and don’t accept defeat.

What can I say, my sister has great taste in books..what is interesting about all of Pierce is that all of her characters “Come Out” Alanna as a girl (can’t imagine how my sister relates), Daine as a wild Mage and Aly as a spy…Their coming out is natural, it is a growing into themselves and their strength, and what I appreciate about my sister’s answer’s is that its these gifts and strengths that are highlighted, the fact that they are women to look up to….that and HOPE and PERSEVERANCE which are traits that I find to be essential and what should be what we love about the Bible as much as fantasy and PS is why I read fantasy….

As Joss Whedon notes, this shouldn’t be noteworthy (Query: why do you write strong heroines? Whedon: because you keep asking me that), but it is! (PS Favorite book is a totally cheating question, one I can never answer, can I pick a favorite star in the sky?)

The story God gives us is that we are both female and male in God’s image. Do you experience yourself as being in God’s image? (I like to think that transsexual’s have a more (w)holistic sense of what God’s image is)

So there’s this weird conflict here where, on the one hand, God must be both genders- and some representations of the Holy Ghost/Spirit interpret that as female. But I can’t view God that way- because there’s distinctly more than two genders. If the purpose of the question is to establish that God shares their gender with everyone, I think of it like this. Jesus was pretty clearly male- to the best of our knowledge, he’s the son and had no issues with his body in that way. (Which is an entirely different conversation one could have, but that’s not the point here.) So if the physical manifestation was male, then to me the logical next step is that the part we cannot grasp or understand is, as the physical manifestation’s natural opposite, female and comfortable with that. Well then, what is God, both? No. God can’t be both. God must be all. Male, Female, Trans* Genderqueer, Genderfluid, Bi-Gender, Agender, Third Gender (I can’t possibly list all of them…) They must be all of them and thensome. Part of what makes me uncomfortable in most churches is the interpretation of God as Father, Christ as Son and ignore the Holy Spirit completely. What, you mean it should all be male? God and Christ don’t understand women, and have nothing to share with them? Because sometimes that’s what it feels like. And the more a church focuses on Christ as son and redeemer, the less attached I feel to the words they’re speaking, because they’re only speaking from one viewpoint and ignoring the rest.

I will try not to rant here, but there are all kinds of mistranslations of the Bible that slant God towards masculine, when God isn’t. The word for Holy Spirit (Ruach) in Hebrew is a feminine word. The word Almighty in Hebrew means the God of many mounds (i.e. BREASTS to feed all of her children) etc. etc. This is a problem most females have with Christianity, that my sister has a VERY perceptive and unique focus on. God MUST BE ALL (which I bolded above), God is all, and its too much for us to understand so we compartmentalize so our little brains can handle it, but really, God must be all! PS I have always been a Kinsey 1-6 scale advocate, where completely straight is 0, completely bi is 6 and most people are 1-5…not a gendering issue, but still brings in the issues of God, Sexuality, Gender and Sex. Hey if we can’t talk about our embodied experience, why the heck are we even worrying about religion, am i right?

Image

My son drew God, because he wanted to know what God looked like, he said that God is both a boy and a girl and not a boy in a girl and….”I think God is very big, because God takes care of everybody, and I think God is a rainbow, because God likes all colors. See these dots? These are all the people, they are all different kinds too…” ..and a child shall lead them, anyone, anyone?

How important was naming yourself as female? How did the naming effect the embodiment? Or how did the embodiment effect the naming? Was there an order to it, or did all come together?

Okay, there’s a lot of questions to this question and I just have to address them one at a time.

Hehehehe, I told my sister I wrote only 4 questions, but of course I cheated, layering question upon question, luckily my sister is brilliant (really brilliant she is the smartest one by far in my family) and she was able to pull apart my meaning…good thing she has practice, being related to me and all.

Naming myself as female changed my whole world. It was about comfort and knowledge as much as anything else. I collect stories, including those I experience, and there was always something wrong with the story of me as a male. It would be like reading Harry Potter but instead of the proper ending Voldemort kills all the muggles and takes over the world. It’s still a pretty good story, but it’s not right. It’s not the way that the story should go, and we know that somewhere in us. In a similar way, being male wasn’t ruining my life. It just wasn’t right, and somewhere within me knew that. So the naming and identifying put me back to the right story, and changed…well, everything to some extent. As for the naming/embodiment dynamic, I’d say it was (and still is) a pretty consistent back and forth. I’d look at my past- realize that I’d been skipping around in skirts at age 8 and pinning down my arm movements since age 10- and see how I’d been living it my whole life. Then I’d start doing something and the driving feeling would be “screw it, I feel like doing x-y-z because that’s what my gender says is comfortable, so I will.” In the past, I was still learning what made me comfortable and my physical actions in the past helped guide that. As I look more toward the future, and being a woman is an unshakeable part of my identity, I’d say the balance is more towards the naming- I chose this title and this gender and this life (well, I chose to act on it, anyway) So I might as well embrace the parts of it I like.

YAY! I love how the “naming” piece of my sister’s identity has brought her more into SELF….I can’t add to this

What questions and wonderings do you have about God or the human existence that are informed by your being/experience/embodiment on earth?

I have a very important, unanswerable question that involves only one word. Why? Why put people through rigors and trials? Why challenge people in ways that they sometimes cannot handle, or cannot handle at the time? Why love, why hate, why trust, why lie? In short, my question out of all of my gender and sexuality struggles, out of dysphoria, out of watching my friends and my family is the most basic and most complex question of all. Why do it? Why was I born into the wrong body? What did I need to learn or understand? What did I gain? What did I lose? Was it worth the cost? I have no answers. I’m left with just the resounding question, sounding a bit like a petulant five year old. Why?

Shepherd: What are we up to, sweetheart?
River: Fixing your Bible.
Shepherd: I, um.. what?
River: Bible’s broken. Contradictions, false logistics.. doesn’t make sense.
Shepherd: No, no, you can’t..

River: So we’ll integrate non-progressional evolution theory with God’s creation of Eden. Eleven inherent metaphoric parallels
already there. Eleven, important number, prime number. One goes into the house of eleven eleven times but always comes out one.

River: Noah’s Ark is a problem.
Shepherd: Really?

River: We’ll have to call it “early quantum state phenomenon”. Only way to fit 5,000 species of mammal on the same boat.
Shepherd: Give me that. River, you don’t… fix the Bible.
River: It’s broken! It doesn’t make sense.
Shepherd: It’s not about making sense, it’s about believing in something and letting that belief be real enough to change your life.
It’s about faith. You don’t fix faith, River, it fixes you.

See we are related! We love tough questions….My sister has a great quest ahead of her. Of course, I don’t have an answer…its just too good a question.

Here’s what I think, I know its not all bubbles and sunshine (though I wish that were the case–to see a bubbles and sunshine version of events read here). But I am honored to witness to it, I hope that I am deepened by it, and I am SO proud of her! I think she is an amazing, strong, brave and resilient person who NEVER GIVES UP already, and she’s 10 years younger than me. I can’t wait to see what she does next!

 

Read the Other Queer Synchoblog Posts!

Queering Our Reading of the Bible by Dwight Welch

Queer Creation in art: Who says God didn’t create Adam and Steve? by Kittrdge Cherry

Of The Creation of Identity (Also the Creation of Religion) by Colin & Terri

God, the Garden, & Gays: Homosexuality in Genesis by Brian G. Murphy, for Queer Theology

Created Queerly–Living My Truth by Casey O’Leary

Creating Theology by Fr. Shannon Kearns

Initiation by Blessed Harlot

B’reishit: The Divine Act of Self-Creation by Emily Aviva Kapor

Queer Creation: Queering the Image of God by Alan Hooker

Queer Creation by Ric Stott

Eunuch-Inclusive Esther–Queer Theology 101 by Peterson Toscano

Valley of Dry Bones by Jane Brazelle

Queer Creation: Queer Angel by Tony Street

The Great Welcoming by Anna Spencer

Queer Creation by Billy Flood

The Mystery of an Outlandishly Queer Creation by Susan Cottrell

We’ve Been Here All Along by Brian Gerald Murphy

God Hirself: A Theology by T. Thorn Coyle

The Objectification of God by Marg Herder

Coming Out As Embodiments of God Herself by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott

An Interview by Katy

On Creation and Belonging by Andrew Watson

Creation by Liam Haakon Smith

Practically Creating Practical Queer Theology by Talia Johnson

Inspired Possibility: Opening the Gift of the Queer Soul by Keisha McKenzie

Oh What A Difference A Pope Makes! by Hilary Howes

I’m Really Angry by John Smid

Focus on the (Chosen) Family by Brian Cubbage

The Goddex by Thorin Sorensen

“I don’t believe it, but I’m sticking to it. That’s my definition of faith.”

“I don’t believe it, but I’m sticking to it. That’s my definition of faith.”

My Brief Theology of Belief vs. Faith

Belief is individual

Faith is communal

 

Belief is confessional

Faith is God given

 

Belief is about structuring the world

Faith is letting go to God’s plans

 

Beliefs are what we hang onto 

Faith is what hangs onto us

 

Belief is what we are working on

Faith is what the church works on

When do you Experience God repost

Reblogged from http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/07/where-do-you-experience-god-well-answer-me/

(Studies say that what conservative churches have over mainline is that we are not good about directly testifying about who God is in our lives)

Where do you experience God? Well, answer me.

July 28, 2013 By  Leave a Comment

I actually did this. All by myself. Quartered and stacked. Three rows deep. I did this.

I had lunch a while back with two friends visiting the area, home for a few weeks from their normal lives in Kenya.

In the course of conversation, one of them asked me, “Where do you experience God?”

My inner recovering Calvinist quickly surfaces and I think to myself,

“Mind your own business. And another thing, we don’t ‘experience’ God. We read about him and formulate thoughts about him. When we do experience God, it may be in a harshly worded book review, perhaps a knock-down-drag-out doctrinal debate in a session meeting, or, as in the good old days, some form of physical punishment.”

All partial kidding aside, my own experience in various expressions of conservative Christianity has not set me up to answer easily my friend’s question. The theology of immediate retribution on Chronicles, sure. Got that one covered. But not this one.

Which is a shame. I actually had trouble saying where I experience God. That bothers me.

I was taught–implicitly and explicitly–that the experience of God is something that…well…it’s good if you can get it, but don’t go looking for it. After all, experience is subjective and potentially misleading. Best to get your theology in order and leave subjective experience to the Charismatics.

I’ve been thinking a lot of about this over the last few years, and my friend’s question pushed me further along:

Experiencing God is the point.

I know some of you may wonder why I even need to write this, but:

Without the experience of God, what use is all our cogitating? What good does it to to reduce God to having either the right thoughts neatly arranged, or busying ourselves with the “work of the Gospel” when immediacy with God is not part of the package?

A life dominated by worry, fear, anger, etc.,–which commonly accompany the life of the mind–is a life where the experience of God is a theory, not a reality.

So, back to my friend’s intrusive question. I wanted to say–just to get her off my back–”in church” but (1) that’s not true, and (2) she knows I know it’s not true.

So, I think I said, “I don’t know. Give me a hint.”

Here the part of Pete is being played by an actor. Also, my trim is barn red.

She encouraged me to sense God’s presence by being open to God while doing those things that jazz me. I mentioned that I sometimes get very antsy while writing, and I feel I just have to go outside and stack firewood or paint trim for a couple of hours.

She suggested that was a clue about the kind of person I am and how I actually already do experience God along paths I don’t normally think about. I need to learn to keep my eyes and ears open.

I was taught from early on to experience God in reading the Bible, prayer, evangelism, and church. Maybe an occasional feed the hungry weekend.

Or a miracle in your life. Miracles are good.

My friend, however, was reminding me that God is bigger and more pervasive in his creation than these formulas. Is this too radical to consider–that perhaps God may be present in our lives in all sorts of “unconventional” ways; and what jazzes me may be telling me when those experiences are happening?

I am a “physical” person. I used to be an active athlete; I do a lot of work on our house; I still exercise; and I am fidgety–boy, am I fidgety. My friend pointed out that I even tend to express myself using “physical” vocabulary–”no need to jump off a cliff about it” is preferred to “no need to be so concerned.”

So, as I’m stacking wood or painting trim (or rebuilding rotted trim so I can paint it), I should learn to be mindful of what is going on inside of me those moments and ask God, “Where are you right here and now?”

Or maybe better, “How are you here right now?

No bright lights of God’s brilliant presence–at least I hope not as I’m 20′ up a ladder–but perhaps deeper and more…soothing, peaceful. I don’t know. I’m new at this. Give me a break.

I am so used to accessing a far-off God through my mind, through words. Rather than me calling the shots, maybe I can cultivate a patient discipline of seeing other, less controllable, ways in which God is already part of my experience.

I’m sure I’m doing a rotten job explaining all this, but I’m fine with that. I do wish, though, that I would have been taught some of these things during my formative Christian years–especially in seminary.

On the other hand, it’s not like I can’t learn some new things and keep moving along on the journey.

I’m fine with that, too. And I believe, so is God.”

Why millennials are leaving the church

YES!*  (maybe the problem is THEOLOGICAL) Point and Case Example https://katyandtheword.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/an-absolutely-r/

CNN Belief Blog

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

(CNN) At 32, I barely qualify as a millennial.

I wrote my first essay with a pen and paper, but by the time I graduated from college, I owned a cell phone and used Google as a verb.

I still remember the home phone numbers of my old high school friends, but don’t ask me to recite my husband’s without checking my contacts first.

I own mix tapes that include selections from Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but I’ve never planned a trip without Travelocity.

Despite having one foot in Generation X, I tend to identify most strongly with the attitudes and the ethos of the millennial generation, and because of this, I’m often asked to speak to my fellow evangelical leaders about why millennials are leaving the church.

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WHy Church is not about Belief in JESUS!!!!

Every time we talk about belief in the Bible, the word is actually faith.

WAHOO! LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN: religion is about belief, whereas it should be (and spirituality really is about) faith.

For a handy chart with some scripture click here

Here is the deal

Beliefs are the limit of human capabilities, they allow us to stretch. Knowledge takes us only so far, beliefs are what we can do beyond knowledge

Faith is letting go to what we know or even believe, and letting the fullness of God to enter our lives. It is beginning to understand that God is beyond our ken, and there is something we live in

Belief is individual, its something you say to define who you are. These is why beliefs are so hard to change, because they are about who you are, and you have reasons for the beliefs you hold. A person (like your spouse or sibling) has a set of beliefs oftentimes they are not e–zzzzactllllyyyy the same as what you believe. Beliefs are a part of who you are. This is why people (and groups, like Presbyterians) have a set of beliefs.

Faith is communal, its about what holds people together. Its often more about the gaps and differences rather than similarities. Faith is what allows you to not know everything, its about practicing the give and take of beliefs. If you don’t have the energy or the wherewithal to believe or trust in something, you can come to a group where others can do what you can’t. When people ask Why do you go to church? Can’t I just believe what I want to at home? I completely agree…one can be spiritual, disciplined and have beliefs on one’s own. And these beliefs are important. BUT, faith is a community that allows for a deeper exploration that isn’t only about what we believe.

Beliefs are tenants that we hang onto. The structures by which we understand the world. As much as they are about who we are, they also are about how we relate to the world and what is important to us. They are the structure on which we hang our hats (philosophers are GREAT at this). Beliefs are something to hang onto.

Faith is a seed–its a small beginning of who we are that we allow to grow. Although it starts out with who we are, its more flexible, not defining our world but instead is something we can come home to (Chart), somewhere to live in the world of different beliefs. Faith holds onto us when we are lost, its what comes and looks for us when we can’t find our way back–Prodigal son, lost coin, lost sheep.

There is nothing wrong with beliefs, I think they are great…they help us to define our world and to express who we are….there are places for beliefs in Christianity–they tend to be during the time of confession, when we say who we are, what we believe first together as a particular church and then silently as individuals. Beliefs are wonderful.

Faith is different that belief though, and in all the places (except in 1st Timothy) what we define as belief is actually faith: epistw (pronounced epistu) .

(Probably because the disciples continue to say they have unfaith, which isn’t a word for us but disbelief is….ah, the logistics of language LOL). Many, many times the disciples and followers of Christ confess that they do not have enough faith…they ask for Christ to help it to grow.

Belief is about telling our own story—telling who we are and why we are that way and what we believe

Faith  is about a way of life, a way of faith, hope and trust in the Lord that is beyond us without God’s help. Faith is something we CAN’T hang onto by ourselves, its too big for us to understand. Its like when Peter walks across water, one minute he has faith–the fullness of God in him, and then it becomes too much and he has to let go and thus starts to sink. These moments are flashes, pieces where we connect via community and God to the fullness of life.

Ex:

Luke 17:3b-6

“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them. The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”

Note, the problem isn’t that the disciples don’t believe in forgiveness, no doubt they do. They just don’t necessarily have the capabilities to do that much forgiveness all the time, so they need more faith (more trust/hope/love from God) in order to be able to live a life of faith.

In Conclusion: Spiritual but not Religious …the church is doing it backwards Christians such as Peter Rollins, Jay Bakker and Jim Palmer deal with the problem of belief and doubt. They say that doubt isn’t counter to belief, its a part of it. I would dig deeper as say that both belief and doubt are a part of the richer, communal and God-intiated (and gift of) faith. (Faith Hope and Love, hence why LOVE is the most important, its about how you live things out, not what you believe)

The Church shouldn’t be a place of tenants and beliefs, it should be a community of questions and faith. The church should be a place for unbelievers to gather (the drunks, the prostitutes and the lepers should be taxi-ed in!)

•Ever notice that Jesus doesn’t go around touted his beliefs. Instead he ask people what they believe (or don’t believe) and then meets them there! (up a tree, by a well, at a stoning, on a cross)…The disciples certainly don’t always retain their trust in God. But, Christ doesn’t ask what people’s beliefs are before them, instead he works to increase their faith. And when people ask Jesus questions, he doesn’t tell them what they should believe, instead he asks them a question in return.

Essentially this scenario takes place over and over, the penultimate being the interchange with Pilate (Katy’s interpretation of events to follow)

Pilate: Who are you?

Jesus: Who do you believe I am?

Pilate: Are you the King of the Jews?

Jesus: So you say…

Pilate: You are the savior?

Jesus: If you think so….

Pilate: Just answer me, are you the King or aren’t you?

Jesus: You say I am, and all these people say I am, I don’t claim to be the King of the Jews, however, I will say this. Even if everyone stopped calling me the King, then the very rocks would say that’s who I am…just saying………

Note: not putting beliefs on others, just a discussion about where the community of faith was….that should be how the church exists!!!!!!

This is the call of the church, we are called not to a set of beliefs (that’s law people) but the gift of faith (YAY for saved by grace not works)……

I don’t know what I believe…but I do have a little faith!

For God so loved the world that whoever has (even a little) faith into him shall never die, but have eternal life

Batman and Baptism

Baptism Message: You are beautiful and loved and perfect as a newborn naked baby, the more “Naked” you can be with God, the more you can share in the glory of Christ’s love (both reviewed in Skinny Dipping and Embodied Spirituality and Nakedness)…
Reality…Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman, then always be batman. This morning a batman costume helped to relieve any nerves during baptism….yep today I baptized batman..