“Orthodox ecclesiology is indeed eucharistic ecclesiology. For in the Eucharist the church accomplishes the passage from the world into the world to come, into the eschaton; participants in the ascension of its Lord, and in His messianic banquet, tastes of the ‘joy and peace’ of the Kingdom. ‘And thou didst not cease to do all things until thou hadst brought us back to heaven, and hadst endowed us with thy Kingdom…’ Thus the whole life of the church is rooted in the Eucharist, is the fruition of this Eucharistic fullness in the time of this world whose ‘image passeth by…’ This is indeed the mission of the church.” Alexander Schmemann from “Life World Mission”
I have been thinking a lot about this above quote and my question is whether there is a difference between Ecclesiology (the life and doctrine of the church) and mission (the churches outreach to the world) in the modern church and should there be?
I got back from a walk a few minutes ago and while walking I was struck with the fact that I have some great friends. I was also struck with the fact that some of those great friends are leaving soon. It excited me because I know they are walking the path Christ has set before them, yet saddened me because I cant walk that path with them any longer. It reminds me of Emmaus. Jesus didn’t walk with the disciples forever, only a season; a season that drastically changed their lives, but a season none the less. Some people come into our lives for seasons and I think God brings them into our lives to walk with us for two reasons. First, because they have something to teach us and we have something to teach them. Second, I think it reminds us to anticipate the day when we will all live together in perfect community, enjoying God’s new world. A friend is a friend forever living in that reality.
This is reality, You are coming to reign on the earth, and the increase of Your government will know no end!
Leonard Ravehill one time commented that it often takes him more time to run his car through the automatic carwash then the time most “converts” spend at the alter. I don’t entirely agree with Mr. Ravenhill, but I do see where he is coming from, especially in the nature of conversion. Andrew Walls said in a lecture at St. Colm’s that ” conversion is not about adopting someone else’s pattern of life and thought, however ancient and however excellent, that is not conversion but proselytization… Conversion involves the turning towards Christ of everything that is there already, so that Christ comes into places, thoughts, relationships and world views in which He has never lived before.” I think this is what St. Paul meant when he said ” that if anyone is in Christ, they are new creations, old are gone, behold all things are new.” Conversion is not simply a “death” to all we are, it is a death to our whole way of living and a resurrection into the fullness of that life in Christ! We don’t lose our identity, we have become who we were always meant to be! This is why conformity to religion will never work; this is why church in the West is failing. We are good at making people conform to standards and go through the motions, but not good at leading them to the one who can take them down into the death waters of baptism and have them rise again with Christ in the newness of life. This can only be modeled and walked through alongside. May we be willing to journey with others through transformation, not simply have them conform to our standards. “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed…”
Kwame Bediako states in “Christianity in Africa” that “Christian theology in the West seems, on the whole, to understand the Christian Gospel as a system of ideas. And yet, when the Apostle Paul described the Gospels, this is what he wrote: ‘ I have complete confidence in the Gospel; it is the power of God to save all who believe…’ Surely this calls for a new idiom.” So often, I think we boil Christianity down to what we do or what we believe. This is highly important, but I do not think it should stand at the center of Christianity. The center of Christianity has been and always should be the risen Jesus Christ (The Word made flesh, Incarnation) and our tangible interactions with His life. If we have not had “our heart strangely warmed,” we are missing out on a large piece of the Kingdom of God. The reasons Jesus sent the comforter were to bear witness of the Father and that we would be able to enter into the community of new humanity that Christ initiated on Easter; thus, bringing glory to the Son and the Father, through the Spirit. Yet, so often we boil Christianity down to codes of conduct or dare I say even a text, when it could be so much more. I think our African brothers and sisters have much to teach us about what it means to live a life shaped by the real, tangible presence of Christ and in the post-Christian West, we had better start listening.
This is reality, He is coming to reign on the earth, and the increase of His Government will know no end!
I wonder what it must have been like for the the disciples of Christ to discover an empty tomb? Thoughts of joy, fear, confusion seem to infuse back into that empty tomb with them; yet to their utter amazement they are told that He is no longer there, He has risen just as he said He would! Hard to believe, I think. Yet, after the week I have experienced I know that God can raise an impossible situation. My brother was told that he was almost certainly cancerous in his liver, yet what seemed like a hopeless situation, we were amazed with resurrection healing. He is risen indeed and my family is basking in that reality!
After spending a few hours at the Abbot of Gethsemane, i was struck with the fraility of humanity. We try so hard to follow Christ and “do good,” yet despite our best efforts, we don’t seem to measure up. Near the end of the day we went on a hike and saw a statue representing the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane: they were asleep. That seems to epitomize our spiritual lives, yet, Christ calls us “to awake o sleeper, and Christ will shine on you!” That is the glorious hope of the Gospel; Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, justifies us and begins the work of sanctification in us. It was fitting that after seeing the statue of the sleeping disciples, just “a stones throw away” we saw the most human, human who had ever lived, Jesus Christ. He was on His knees for them, for you, for me. Thank God for Easter and the empty tomb! We can share in the life of Christ today.
Trying to dive back into the blog world on a consistent basis. I am not going to lie though, WordPress is frustrating me.