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Since the end of August I have been traveling each week to speak at conferences or attend various meetings. It has been a thrilling and busy Fall. This week is no different. I just got back from speaking at a college in East Tennessee yesterday. Whenever I speak somewhere, or when I’m conversing online, I inevitably get this question: “What does it mean to be Reformed?”
Great question! Instead of listing the points to my theological credo I thought I would answer that here in a different way: by sharing the blogs, poems, and articles that I’m reading this month that inform my Reformed identity. In other words, this is how I see the Reformed life being lived out and not just thought about.
This caught my eye on my Twitter feed right before I got in my plane. This brings me hope! Writer and speaker Brandan Robertson said:
This is a big and important move for the global LGBT Christian movement. The Spirit's work is advancing! http://t.co/iaCoxGr3jM
— Brandan Robertson (@BrandanJR) October 13, 2015
I’ve linked the article above, but here’s a piece that I want to highlight:
DRC moderator Nelis Janse van Rensburg explained the decision, arguing that: “It is historical because with this decision we actually are at a point where there can be no doubt that the Dutch Reformed Church is serious about human dignity.”
“And you know that we are living in this country where we have so many problems with the dignity of people.”
Van Rensburg added that individual churches will not be forced to follow the ruling.
“Church councils and congregations are like families. They will eventually decide how they will go about it. They know the context, they know the situation, they know about the faith of these people, so they can decide on that,” he said.
Did you get a chance to see this statement? It’s brief, but worthy of your attention. A slice of the article reads:
While the role of the bishop of Rome has historically been a matter of contention between Reformed and Catholic communions, we affirm the manner in which Pope Francis modeled a service of unity for the whole church and its ministry. In his intentional compassion for those on society’s margins, his pastoral visits with prisoners, his identification with immigrants, his care for the integrity of God’s creation, and his public testimony to the values of the gospel, he gave voice and witness to aspirations of the wider Christian community. – See more at: https://www.rca.org/news/rca-catholic-statement-popes-visit#sthash.eDfk1JCb.dpuf
Rachel Held Evans wrote an excellent piece on the Why Christian conference I spoke at a few weeks ago. I do hope you take the time to read this blog entry. She did an amazing job at capturing snapshots of the words of each of the speakers. She writes:
“Why Christian?” worked for a lot of reasons, but perhaps most significantly, it worked because of the enduring power of testimony. There simply remains no greater apologetic than a life caught up in the story of Jesus. This, I believe, is what the apostle Paul meant when he instructed Christians to be ready to give a defense for the hope—(not the certainty, not the doctrine, not the logic….but the hope)—that lives within us. I wasn’t interested in hearing from people for whom this hope has come easily, but from those for whom it had been hard-won, those for whom it remains a work in progress—ever elusive and yet ever present.
What I loved about “Why Christian?” was that while there were variations in the verses, the refrain was unapologetically orthodox, undeniably Christian. We spoke of sin, repentance, baptism, confession, incarnation, resurrection, and Scripture. We proclaimed the great mystery of the faith—that Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again. We served and received communion. We worshipped and prayed together. We gave testimony.
4. World Communion Sunday
October 4th was World Communion Sunday. One of my pastor friends said to me “Oh I don’t preach on all those extra Sundays that have been added to the calendar.” I understand her impulse, and for the most part I don’t either, but World Communion Sunday is one that is different. After all, I am a Minister of Word and Sacrament and if we can talk about our sacraments in ways that bring us together than I’m all for this. My call began at the table and is lived out at the table. So of course this is an important day for me. Jan Richardson, which many of you know, wrote a blessing for World Communion Sunday that has been my traveling poetry companion this month. She writes:
And the Table Will Be Wide
A Blessing for World Communion Sunday
And the table
will be wide.
And the welcome
will be wide.
And the arms
will open wide
to gather us in.
And our hearts
will open wide
And we will come
as children who trust
there is enough.
And we will come
unhindered and free.
And our aching
will be met
And our sorrow
will be met
And we will open our hands
to the feast
And we will turn
toward each other
And we will give up
And we will taste
And we will become bread
for a hungering world.
And we will become drink
for those who thirst.
And the blessed
will become the blessing.
will be the feast.
5. Why Church?
Finally, you’re invited to a Twitter conversation that Reverend Mihee Kim-Kort, Jeff Chu, and I are curating. This Monday at 10:00 p.m. EST we are looking at the question “Why Church?” I love Mihee and Jeff so when Mihee had this idea for us to wrestle with why church matters with the Twitter community I jumped at the chance. Consider joining in the conversation. Or maybe you have students that would benefit from this conversation. Share the details and welcome to the conversation. See you online Monday night!