Pentecost : the next church revolution
Emergent. Transformation. Post-modern. Changing. Gen X. 21st Century Church. Hot catch phrases, often thrown around with the intent of sparking interest and justifying ones church credentials (or lack thereof). Yet maybe these current buzz words about the shifting relationship between church and culture merely serve to say a lot without really saying anything at all?
The text for Sunday, according to the Lectionary, is the story of Pentecost [Acts 2:1-13]. The birth-story of the church community. From the beginning multi-cultural, trans-national, inter-generational, and gender-inclusive; this community of faith was not just about preaching to the masses, but also listening to what is going on.
We're quick to catch up with the changing culture, often responding to the altar calls of cultural prophets. Yet maybe often the calls to change are more about rejecting past traditions that entrap, limit and enslave; than recognizing and discerning what's going on around us? It can't be just a matter of repackaging the familiar. It has to be about a dialogue - mutual - between the church community, in all its diversity, and the culture in which we move and communicate, with all its tapestry of differences. I'm struck today by two articles in the Oakland Tribune that highlight the importance of social communities. Not just for social networking. But for relating, being human, enjoying and celebrating life, learning new things, being stretched, being inspired as well as inspiring others, and giving back of time and money. [Oakland, you say you want a beer revolution?] and [Personal Trainer for the Soul].
We're social beings: created for community, conceived in union, grown up by family-villages. While we flounder for answers, maybe we need to remember what a community set apart by faith means [ekklesia] and how the faith we practice and have received informs our experience of the gift of life. It's not just about culture: contextualized in sub-groups, articulated by Hollywood or packaged for financial gain. It's about the people who live in and by a given culture.