When will we become weary of our fixation on the depravity of humanity and instead reorient ourselves towards the glory of God? When will we who "have the Holy Spirit inside" begin to act like the Beloved of God that we have always been intended to be?When we stop focussing on our power, and start focussing on our vulnerability? When we stop thinking about ourselves, and start thinking about the others? When we stop exalting our ability to triumph and succeed and prevail, and start seeking to be last of all and least of all and servant of all? When we start to recognize the simple truth that "It's no longer the social norm to be a Christian,', as PB Jefferts Schori says?
This really isn't difficult. Most church goers are baptized heathens anyway. What they actually know about the Bible wouldn't fill a short paragraph. We could start there, just getting them to listen to what the Bible says, in all its contradictory, complex, and contrary glory. As Fr. Underhill told his congregation at All Saints in Attleboro: "the Bible...is the source of faith...which is used along with tradition and reason as the three authorities in the church." Maybe we could start there, huh? Just reading the Bible? People do it in college, now, as a literature course. When I entered graduate school almost 30 years ago, the Bible as literature was an almost heretical notion. Now, it's the only way many people encounter it. Perhaps we should acknowledge this reality.
Maybe if we stopped assuming everyone grew up in a church, some church, of some kind, somewhere. Maybe if we finally abandoned the notion of "Christendom," of church combined with state, we could start to get somewhere. Is this not orthodox? Is this bizarre? Or is it unorthodox to acknowledge the world around you? Maybe we should ask Augustine, after we finish reading The City of God. Maybe we should ask Luther, or Calvin. But wait until Calvin is through running Geneva, and Luther is through translating the scriptures into a language that isn't dead and limited only to those with enough education.
What was the question again?
I will admit, in a quibble, that I'm not so sure God became human in order that we could become divine, as PB Jefferts Schori is quoted as saying. That's a bit too Gnostic for me, and at some point I'll return to that (when I've plowed through more of The Nag Hammadi Library). But on these things we can, at least, have discussions. But for now, I'll steal (again!) what the MadPriest said, because it is so lovely:
The same applies to us. Those of you who have knelt at the knees of Jesus have no option either. Those of you who have the Holy Spirit inside cannot now evict him. You will be catchers of people. You cannot stop it. It comes with the package. That is why this church, full of people who love each other and who love God, is a healthy growing church in spite of our fear. We catch people and bring them into the Kingdom of God, and life doesn’t get more miraculous than that.Amen.