Brueggemann: Time to Die and Be Raised

The Easter season is full of intensity for the disciple of Jesus.  It is where we participate in the journey to the gruesome cross, and the glorious resurrection.  Yet within that intensity is a potential to miss the depth of connection with the Easter story and our current time and place.  In this gem from “the work of the people,” Walter Brueggemann offers us a nitty gritty picture of what it means to make this connection.  It has made its rounds in many spaces online, yet if you haven’t seen it take 5 minutes.  It’s worth it.

Time To Die And Be Raised from The Work Of The People on Vimeo.

How is the death and resurrection of Jesus prominent to you after the intensity of the Easter season?  

Don’t Skip Over Maundy Thursday

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A retired pastor once said from the pulpit “I am often disappointed by the turn out to Maundy Thursday services… it is one of the most important times on the church calendar.”

Maundy Thursday is important.  It doesn’t get enough airtime!

In John 13, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples.  Even Judas who was known to Jesus as the betrayer.  In 1st century Palestine, only slaves would wash feet.  For the disciples, it would have been a jaw dropping moment.  Even Peter couldn’t believe it was happening.  This moment coupled with the Son of God riding into Jerusalem on a donkey was a game changer for many folks.  It revealed the heart of God.

In Luke 22, we also read of the Passover meal, or the Last Supper where particular attention is given to Jesus as divine.  As a foreshadow to the crucifixion, Jesus at the Passover table references his body (bread) and his blood (wine) and identifies them as the new, divine covenant!

Jesus!  Fully human!  Fully divine!

It is a delicate tension we need to pay attention to as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  Those footsteps take us to the brutality of the cross and the grand victory of resurrection.  So don’t skip over this part of the story.

If we simply follow Jesus as human, we focus on ethics, social justice and other good stuff but neglect the bigger picture of God’s work.

If we simply focus on Jesus as divine, we worship, we pray, and we spend time reading the sacred text, yet miss out on the here and now that was so important to Jesus.

Being faithful is to understand the divine dynamic of Jesus as both human and divine.  That is why Maundy Thursday in important!!

Go to a Maundy Thursday service at your church.  If you don’t have a church, find someone to have a conversation with.  Whatever you do, be sure to reflect on the human/divine dynamic of Jesus.  Participate in service to one another and remember Jesus as a humble servant.  Take communion and remember the divinity of Jesus as we prepare for Easter and the resurrection.

Do you find yourself gravitating to Jesus as fully human, fully divine, or both?  What are the implications?

We Need More Prophets

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Dorothy Day. Prophet.

I call prophets heart revealers because they reveal the heart of God and the hearts of those in the congregation.  Prophets call the church to God’s new social order and help the congregation to stand with the poor and oppressed.  In the Old Testament, prophets were “God-intoxicated advocates of social justice… Their authority and their social passion came from the immediacy of their experience of God and not from institutional authorization.  Prophets have the ability to perceive reality when others are lost in a world of illusion.  When prophets come on the scene, reality invades illusion and hearts are laid bare before the living God.  Prophets have a way of ripping open our hearts, shattering our illusions and bringing us face to face with our Maker (1 Cor 14:24-25).

JR Woodward, “Creating A Missional Culture: Equipping the Church for the Sake of the World” Page 132-133.

Prophets make things uncomfortable.  Generally, people do not strive to be uncomfortable. They offer words that challenge our status quo and offer an alternative reality saturated within God’s new social order.  Prophets pursue shalom, and are not afraid to call us out when we are working, living, conforming counter intuitively to that divine call.

We need more prophets.  It seems strange to make this call, as it goes against the grain to equip people to make us uncomfortable, to challenge us.

Yet we need it.  Desperately.

We need people who are willing to point us to God’s new social order.  We need people to reveal the heart of God to us.

Do you know anyone you would consider a prophet?  How can the church encourage the growth and development of prophets even though they make us terribly uncomfortable?

Carving a New Story: Of Residential Schools and First Steps

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“To kill the Indian child” was aimed at severing the artery of culture that ran between generations and was the profound connection between parent and child sustaining family and community.  In the end, at he point of final assimilation, “all the Indian there is in the race should be dead.”

Professor David A. Nock, “A Victorian Missionary and Canadian Indian Policy: Cultural Synthesis vs. Cultural Replacement.”

The dark side of Canadian history which festers to this day is the continued marginalization of the First Nations people.

Starting in the 1840’s the Canadian government developed a policy called “aggressive assimilation” to be taught in church-run, government funded industrial schools which later became known as ‘Residential Schools.’  The hope was to ‘kill’ the ‘Indian’ so that ‘they’ could be better prepared for mainstream society.  The government decided that it would be easier to mould children as opposed to adults, and to put those children in a boarding school environment to reach this goal.

Brutal.

The final ‘Residential School’ closed in 1996.

There has been some mild progress in recognizing the atrocities of this time.  Yet, it is high time for our churches to make a significant effort to enter into purposeful reconciliation with our First Nations brothers and sisters.  It is not possible to say with integrity that we will engage our neighbours or neighbourhoods if we continue to be disconnected from our First Nations people.

We need to be forgiven, but before we can even ask the question of forgiveness we owe our First Nations brothers and sisters the respect and dignity of mutual human relationship where we  listen.

Our church chose to participate in a first step.  The beginning of a new story between the church and our First Nations people.

The whole weekend focused on a “Healing Pole” which is an in process totem pole.  It offered a first step in carving a new history.

The weekend was full of story, of learning to understand what the horrible impact of the Residential Schools had on countless generations of First Nations people.

One woman shared her experience. It was brutal. But as she begun she told us that her husband was waiting in the car outside because he could not bring himself to enter a church.  The pain runs deep.

A totem pole speaks to the history of a people.  As we were invited to participate in carving the “Healing Pole” we begin to shape a new story as we listen to the anger, hatred and pain that is the result of the ‘Residential Schools’ and seek a new reconciled reality for the future.  Carving of the healing pole is to work together in this special way.  We together create a new history.  I am thankful for Isador Charters, Don Klaassen and all the other collaborators for initiating this all important first step.

It was a beautiful moment for me to see my almost 3 year old son carving.  A live and living colour participant in a ritual of redemption and reconciliation.  He was not completely aware of what was going on, but to expose him to this kind of reconcilatory environment, to tell him of this moment when he is older is to remind him of Jesus Christ’s nitty gritty participation right in his backyard.

Much more is to be done.  Much more.  But these kinds of relationships and rituals which point us to divine redemptive realities are a place to start.  This “Healing Pole” will be headed to other churches in the province.

May we continue to pursue relationships with our neighbours in humility, compassion and may it be grounded in Christ.

How can you and your community build relationship with First Nations people in your neighbourhood?  In what other ways can we pursue forgiveness?  What other rituals can we create?

For those interested, Mennonite Church Manitoba is collaborating and creating long term partnerships between Mennonite congregations and First Nations people in Northern Manitoba. They are simply building relationships. Check out one example here.