Skip to main content

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


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Acts 5:1-11 - Questions for reflection & prayer

This past Sunday we looked at one of the more unsettling stories in the Book of Acts:  the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira.  As shared by Luke, this couple sold a piece of land and then proceeded to bring only a portion of the profit to the apostles - laying it at their feet for the good of the community.  However, what appeared to be their grave mistake (pun intended) was their collusion in claiming to have brought all the proceeds to the apostles when - in fact - they were keeping some back for themselves.  Peter announces first to Ananias the Lord's judgment, followed by a similar verdict being handed down to Sapphira a short time later.

Seen by itself, this is a strange story, but it begins to make more sense when we see it as "part of the whole."  The story of Ananias and Sapphira comes right after we hear once again of the community's unity and generosity, including their willingness to share their own goods and resources to take care of one another (ch. 4).  Th…

Acts 6:1-6 - Questions for reflection & prayer

As the Holy Spirit empowers the Christian community, new life emerges and new members are added.  This is a beautiful thing, and it is extremely important to point out that this is God's doing.  God is initiating diversity within the Christian community.  However, this also creates new tensions and new challenges.

Acts 6:1-6 gives us our first glimpse of a tension that will extend all the way to chapter 15, until the leaders of the early Church come up with a way to address the growing differences within the Christian family.  Some feel that they are being left out and that others are getting preferential treatment.  The Hellenized Christians feel they are getting the short end of the stick.

All of this is extremely relevant to thoughts and feelings occurring in our own day and age.  Across the spectrum, a majority of Americans feel like they face some form of discrimination.  But, it also points to an ongoing challenge we all face from time to time, the challenges that arise when…

Life in Greencastle: That Greatest Architect

God's peace to all of you on this beautiful Saturday afternoon.  I hope you are enjoying the warm sunshine.  Perhaps you are even still enjoying one last sunset at the beach.
We stayed fairly close to home this Spring Break, taking two short trips, including one to Turkey Run State Park and the other to Columbus, Indiana.  Anna and I had been longing to go to Columbus for quite some time.  Back in the day, we became friends with Emily and Manish Desai in our small apartment complex in Pasadena, both of whom had recently graduated with degrees in architecture from Cal Poly.  Manish would go on to earn his license in architecture and has designed a number of really beautiful spaces, including private residences but also a church out in the desert for a Native American tribe.  Anna and I have always appreciated Manish and Emily's aesthetic, which is why we knew to take note when they started telling us about Columbus, Indaina a number of years ago.  They didn't know much abo…