Wright Thinking for Pentecost

Currently reading N.T. Wright’s After You Believe, which is the perfect book for Pentecost.  I’m about 70 pages in, so I can’t give a complete review of the book.  However, I have  reached what I think is the crux of his argument, which he plans to develop over the course of the book, the “heart of the book,” as he calls it, which gives a “fresh reading of the moral thrust of the New Testament:”

1. The goal is the new heaven and new earth, with human beings raised from the dead to be the renewed world’s rulers and priests.

2. This goal is achieved through the kingdom-establishing work of Jesus and the Spirit, which we grasp by faith, participate in by baptism, and live out in love.

3. Christian living in the present consists of anticipating this ultimate reality through the Spirit-led, habit-forming, truly human practice of faith, hope, and love, sustaining Christians in their calling to worship God and reflect his glory into the world.

(Sidenote: I think it is kind of fun that I’m listening to “Alive Again” by Trey Anastasio– a very Pentecostal song as well- wonder if we could get this one played in service tomorrow?  And then “Run Like an Antelope”?  Hmmm…maybe not).

Wright’s book, and others which have come out I recent years, give me hope that those who follow Christ, by taking a long look in the mirror, are beginning to react to what they have seen in positive and refreshing ways, recognizing the inherent beauty of who we are in Christ, but still recognizing the need for a good splash of water on the face to start a new day.  To start the new “kingdom work” here on the earth of which God has blessed and declared “good.”

I consider myself a part of this as well, not least by the need to take that look in the mirror.

Sometimes what I see isn’t that great.

But then, through grace, the realization of renewal.

“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. “ (Ezekiel 36:26)

And is not Pentecost the perfect time to do this?  This yearly renewal of the goal and purpose of the Church- of its very identity- comes down in a fire not meant to burn but cleanse, to clear away any “dead brush” in our lives and ready a new forest.

“Sunday:” Why do we go to Church?

Interesting that I am attending two significantly different churches at the moment: Emmanuel Episcopal, a low church Epsicopalian congregation, and Discovery Church, a contemporary worship, non-denominational church.  Both have a significantly different approach to liturgy, but this week, at Discovery’s Young Professionals Group (a focus group for Christians in their 30s), and during Father Malcolm’s homily at Emmanuel, the two converged on the subject of the relevancy of church in our lives as Christians.  Is church something you just “do” once a week, out of habit or expectation?  How do we live and love Christ with our whole heart when it just boils down to empty ritual after a while?

Father Malcolm emphasized our liturgy in the Episcopal Church as a “means, not an end.”  They are there to ground us in the ineffable mystery of God, to bring us closer to the Divine in a physcial, methodical way.  Unless we carry within us that desire to be closer to God, it is empty, and bereft of meaning.  In a similar way, if we do not carry that desire with us beyond the walls of the church, if we do not try to see Christ in all things and in every person, then our live as Christians become empty as well.

At Discovery, we had the opportunity to watch and discuss Rob Bell‘s Nooma video “Sunday.”  Below I’ve nicked part one and two of the episode from Youtube: