Gnostic-y church services

I had to get out of my space until a church service rehearsal and live stream to follow is over. I sometimes just don’t have the patience or desire to keep hearing “praise choruses” that say nothing but how “God is great” and “his name is holy”. God is those things, I believe, but I also worship a God who is present and active and working amongst us, with what we seek to do to embody the Kingdom.

Sometime, somewhere, I want SOME of the songs and liturgy to reflect that. In fact, I greatly prefer that the specifics are up front MOST of the time. If they are not, it feels much like some sort of feel good effort to convince ourselves that God is “all that”, and that we’d better feel and show that we are “feeling it”.

I just worry about the theology that relies on such abstractions. I believe that we are meant to do the work of speaking the truth to today and to our context, and to start from there. The relevance comes forth from the ground of all things as we stand in it (our context), and seek to hear a word addressing it.

The ecological crisis represents a massive human failing, and to seek to worship God while ignoring that seems futile. The Covid-19 pandemic has shocked us into drastic measures to preserve and protect human lives, both our own and those of others. The “remedies” that snatch away our usual comforts and preferences and desires seem a cruel infringement to have to endure. But many of us see that it must be done. But we also might learn from this , whenever it might be safe to “resume” what we had come to know as normal; before “the shelter-in-place”, that there is still this underlying, still present crisis that awaits our response in very similar fashion.

That similarity involves recognizing that “life as usual” is not only in danger, but requires what seem like drastic measures to preserve that life can go on. But it is NOT “drastic” when weighed against the other option: that life ends for us, and many others. We are already hearing people saying “enough”, and that we can’t “sacrifice the economy”. Any “economy” is , as the literal root meaning of the word tells us: a “house” for many; the affairs of the home.** If that house is destroyed, then there is no economy. Even short of utter destruction, “economics” falls into chaos as struggle for survival ensues.

Saying we musn’t “disturb the economy” for the sake of ecological balance is like saying we musn’t undergo medically neccessary remedies because it is too inconvenient. “Convenience” is recognized as secondary to saving a life. Ecological balance is that which makes life possible, including ours. But this is a collective problem, which is caused by and affects all. That we ourselves are not seeing the worst consequences (but only others, with far less of their own personal impact on those causes, if any at all. We are complicit largely because we are not seeing it (and not being informed, mostly by the people who DO know it’s effects and hide it from us, or simply deny that it is happening because they not only do not actually see the damaging effects, but profit from it, so are motivated to “see it differently”).

The Church should be , as a harbinger of the Kingdom of God, proclaiming and modeling a different way, which confronts the “kingdoms of this world”. Jesus went about preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God. This “kingdom” was intentionally cast as such to be a challenge to the status of “righteous reign” claimed by the Kingdoms such as Rome. Those “kingdoms of man/humanity” have narratives and views of “reality” that are at odds with the Kingdom of God. The “Good News” is the “better world that is possible”.

(** Greek word oikonomos, meaning “one who manages a household..late 15th century (in the sense ‘management of material resources’): from French économie, or via Latin from Greek oikonomia ‘household management’, based on oikos ‘house’ + nemein ‘manage’. Current senses date from the 17th century.— Oxford English Dictionary )


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Developer and researcher of all things social tech, with particular focus on helping church orgs leverage all the best tools and think about Social Graph data

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