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The Third Way

Most of the time, it's the completely random things that end up being the biggest source of inspiration for me.  That explains why a customer comment on Amazon has been rocking my world this past week.  I was following up on a book called The Descent of the Dove, an old classic from a guy named Charles Williams one of C. S. Lewis' friends.  Williams' book is a quick tour thru the history of the Church, all the ups and downs, all the faithful servants and the misguided hearts.  But, tucked into the middle of a review was this simple reminder:  in all of the great controversies that have rocked the Church through the years, the truth has been found in the tension and complexity of the middle.

Was Jesus fully human or fully divine?

Is Jesus part of God the Father or separate?

Is salvation something God does for us or something we do on our own?

Is communion better served by distribution or by intinction?

Okay, that last one was a joke ... sort of ... because we all know that everyone has an opinion on that matter.

Over and over again, when controversies get heated, the situation is always cast as an "either/or" debate.  Strong advocates are quick to emerge to champion the "truth" of their cause.  And it isn't long before people feel like they need to start picking sides.

These debates are serious and - as we all know - plenty of ink has been spilled (not to mention actual blood) to settle these debates.

But, there is a great message in that little comment tucked into that Amazon review.  In the really complicated parts of faith and life the answer is often learning to discern God in that complexity, not in escaping to some comfortable "side" so that we can feel at ease.

As a congregation, we have a wonderful opportunity to live into this reality.

We want to be a congregation that loves Jesus Christ, fully human, fully divine.

We want to be a congregation that reads the Scriptures with a firm belief in both its divine origin and its human composition and compilation.

But, it's more than that.  It's more than just theology.  It's about practical theology.

We want to be a congregation that finds a way to embrace neither "this side" or "that side."  Instead we want to be a congregation that strives for and is intentional about a third way, the Christ-like way:

Neither an old or young church, but a multi-generational church in reality and practice.

Neither a boomer or millennial church, but a Christ-defined society.

Neither a Republican or Democratic church, but a community invested in finding a common table and following this amazing practice to "Make America Dinner Again."

Neither a conservative or liberal church, but a church committed to finding new avenues of conversation between those who are pro-choice and pro-life, pro-business and pro-government, pro-freedom and pro-regulation.  And we want to achieve this through that little act we call "fellowship time" every Sunday.  You know:  that crazy practice where we stand around old school tables with paper plates loaded with grapes and goldfish and with a cup of coffee in the other hand while we try to see Christ in the person's face right in front of us.

Neither a "town" or "gown" church, but a community of professors and pharmacists along with small-business owners and teachers.

We, of course, have no idea what this kind of church really looks like, except to say that it looks like ... well, reality.  Our media and our culture has bifurcated everything into this side or that side, but the truth of any real community or family is the great diversity, tension and complexity of its system.  That's the space we want to live within and the church we want to model to our wider world.

So join us if you are tired of having to choose either this side or that side.  Join us if you're ready for the third way.  The Jesus way.

~Pastor Wes


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