Tag Archives: life and faith

WEAVEings: faith in public life

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Tonight Rick Johnson kicked off the Compassion-Peace-and-Justice series at WEAVE with a class about how faith and public life intersect. In the conversation, we acknowledged that we don’t want to be the people trying to create a theocracy, we don’t want to be the people stridently pushing our single-item agenda at the expense of others (or at the expense of the God of love!), and we also don’t want to segregate our faith from our political lives. Remembering that the greek word polis is a particular kind of community arrangement, politics (from the root polis) is about how we live together in community. In other words, “politics” and “partisanship” are not the same thing. Our faith should definitely inform politics–how we live together–even as we keep partisanship out of our faith community. We seek the kingdom of God, and that is our agenda…not a particular party or ideology.

We were reminded tonight that the agenda of the kingdom of God is about justice–in the sense of everyone having a place at the table, everyone having enough (not in the sense of punishment or retributive leveling). Over 2,000 verses of the Bible are about economics, justice, and caring for the poor and oppressed. That’s a lot of God-talk about something we often prefer to avoid. The arc of scripture is toward justice and compassion, and within that arc we strive to live our faith lives in the public square.

We talked for a long time about our human propensity to “mine Scripture for tidbits that will fit our particular agenda.” I’m sure we can all think of examples of this kind of proof-texting, where we take a few words or maybe a verse out of its context and use it to prove our point. This is done by people of every ideology, of every partisan stripe…and it’s not okay. We have a whole library of Scripture (66 books!) for a reason. If it were so simple and black and white, we’d have just a few chapters and be done with it. Instead we contend with stories, biographies, rules from ancient cultures, letters, visions, and the mythology of a people, and we work to interpret it in light of the love of God made known to us in Christ, for our time and context. It’s a big job, not one easily reduced to a few words taken out here and there.

We also talked about how many in our culture seem to believe that faith and politics should never mix. The difficulty, of course, is how much of Scripture is devoted to political issues. Most of the prophets and a fair chunk of Jesus and Paul’s teachings have to do with how the government cares for (or doesn’t care for) its people, with how the community is organized, with God’s concern for the poor and oppressed. How can we disregard all of that in order to keep our faith in its Sunday morning box? Well….we can’t, really. Jesus calls us to follow him wherever he leads, and he spends an awful lot of time hanging out where the leaders are, calling them out on their anti-kingdom-of-God actions and policies. What does following Jesus mean in our day?

What do you think? How does your faith inform your public or political life? How does your faith affect your understanding of the economy, the role of government in helping us work toward the kingdom of God, etc? What do you think a community that pleases God would look like? What would you like to learn more about so that you can more readily put your faith into action?

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what’s your calling? Our calling?

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As we enter Advent two women are dominating the news-two very different women.

One has just been released from prison, the other is about to step into one.

1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Aung San Suu Kyi, only days ago was released from house arrest in Burma or Myanmar.

An advocate of non-violent political action-she once faced down a platoon of soldiers who had their rifles trained on her, she now faces the task of unifying a variety of factions in her country.

Kate Middleton is the sports crazy, hot and leggy 28-year-old that Prince William of the UK has been dating off and on-mostly on-for about nine years. A facile view is that she is Diana redivivus, but in fact Kate is sports crazy, not shy, and more of her own person than Di ever was.

Kate now contemplates, and although apparently of sound mind, has agreed to step into the prison that is the Royal Family. Her life will now be simulcast for as long as this marriage lasts, and particularly if she becomes, as expected the Queen of England.

Both women are storybook material although vastly different stories.
Both women are being called to a very distinct vocation.
Both will need extraordinary quantities of grace and patience to survive
Both have millions of fans-although for different reasons.
One has become an iconic figure for her country; the other is about to be

The Bible gives us a couple of parallel stories I guess. For Kate you might be able to go to Esther-although I don’t know who the wicked Haman would be in our contemporary story.

For Kyi, you go to the apostle Paul who spent a number of years in prison and under house arrest, and considered, like Kyi, his life to be a “libation” poured out on behalf of the cause-in his case, the gospel; in hers, freedom.

I wonder what it is to which we feel called? Kate is just finding out; Kyi has known for years. It is their calling that will define both of these women.

How we respond to God’s call defines us.

You are chosen material, though you might not know it. David, the youngest of many brothers, was tending sheep when summoned by Samuel. Abraham was minding his own business in Ur. Jeremiah was a shy and unwilling youth. Walter Earl Fluker puts it this way: “God often calls us when we are running errands, doing the mundane, thankless chores of life. When we least expect it, we are elected. Moses, hiding out on the back side of the Midian desert, was running an errand when a bush started burning that would not be consumed until he faced Pharaoh. Isaiah was somewhere in the temple, performing his regular priestly duties, when the heavens came down and the Holy commissioned him to go to the valley. Ezekiel, performing his pastoral tasks in the Exile, was transported by divine limousine service to a valley filled with dry bones. Amos was out herding sheep and keeping sycamore trees when the voice came and compelled him to go to the valley.

Andrew and Peter were fishing out on the Sea of Galilee when the Master called them from fishing to the valley.

God calls.We are defined by our response. So what is God calling RCLPC to be ? Yet another struggling institution? A positive force for justice, peace and community? What role do you have in this calling? How will you respond?