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The Call

One of the first questions asked of a person planning on becoming clergy is, “tell me about your call to ministry.” God seems to have a wide variety of ways to make “that voice” heard. Some can tell you the day, the hour, and the place when “the unmistakable event” occurred. Others seem to become more and more aware over a long period of time that ordained leadership is what they were meant to be. Even then “the call” can be something grasped and lost.

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Can We Raise the Bar On Church “Community”?

Let’s stop assuming that a collection of individuals constitutes community. It doesn’t. In fact, it usually makes for disaster, as evidenced by the number of conflict resolution experts who are making their living off congregational members who are at each other’s throats. It’s not the fault of congregational members. We need to be teaching what it means to be in community, and that includes practices that are going to make us fit for community. Most of us got our training for community life in dysfunctional families. The moment anything approximating intimacy breaks out in congregations most people simply re-enact largely the unexamined history of our family of origin.

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Covenant – Faith or Fallacy?

Covenant is firmly established in Christian theology, but among mainstream denominations Methodism gives it particular emphasis. Dating from the time of John Wesley and adapted from seventeenth century Puritan ideology, the annual covenant service is an established part of Methodist tradition. In some quarters it has been welcomed as part of Methodism’s distinctive contribution to the World Church. Grounded in both the Old and New Testaments, covenant theology is surely beyond reproach. Or is it?

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Body of Christ: Body of Life

The church sign can be easily read by anyone driving by: “You can’t be a devoted follower of Jesus unless you are part of a local church.” Does the church that posts this sign not trust the people with Jesus’s message? What is the meaning of “incarnation” if not “embodiment” by individual persons of the spirit of the Christ? Is the “Body of Christ” for members only?

The Apostle Paul created the metaphor of the “Body of Christ” as the community of followers. In 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, he explains the meaning of the ritually-shared meal: “The cup of God’s gracious benefits that we consecrate means that we are involved in the blood of the Anointed, doesn’t it? The bread that we break means that we are involved in the body of the Anointed, doesn’t it? That there is one loaf means that we who are many constitute one body, because we all partake of the one loaf.” In Romans 12:5 he says, “Just as each of us has one body with many parts that do not all have the same function, so although there are many of us, we are the Anointed’s body, interrelated with one another.”

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Spiritual Community

Church is not for everyone. Even for those who like it, there are as many distractions as attractions to the spiritual life there. I thought of entitling this “spirituality for loners” because I want to suggest eight ways of experiencing spiritual community outside of church!

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Community Making

So what do I mean by a sacred community or spiritual community, or as Peck would call it a true community? I refer here to an intentional community with an identifiable common purpose. Maybe that purpose is simple to grow spiritually as individuals. It is a community where one can transcend oneself and experience a sense of the interconnectedness of life. It is a community in which each member seeks to see and relate to the divine or the sacred in the other.

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Affimations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – The Christian Church

Did Jesus Found the Church?

According to Leo Tolstoy, the famous Russian novelist, in his magnum non-fiction opus, The Kingdom of God is Within You, the idea that God or Jesus founded the church is “so utterly untrue and unfounded that one is ashamed to refute them.” Only the modern Christian church would even assert such a notion. Jesus could not have founded the church as we presently understand the word. Nothing like the idea of the church with its sacraments and its claim of infallibility can be found in Jesus’ words or in the ideas of other men of his time.

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Being Spiritual and Religious (1 Cor. 2:1-16; Isaiah 58:1-9a)

Sermon by Chuck Queen, Feb. 9, 2014

In contemporary speech the word spiritual is more associated with personal or private experience, while the word religious is usually connected to communal, institutional, and organizational religious life. Those who identify themselves as spiritual but not religious reject traditional organized religion as the sole or the most valuable means of advancing one’s spiritual growth.

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Take Two Giant Steps Back

Many Christians today are increasingly unsure about how to “take” the Bible. To borrow from the childhood game “Mother, May I?” I’d suggest we take two giant steps back. We need to move ourselves back to challenge two assumptions that block our comfort with the Holy Bible.

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Thomas Keating on Becoming Fully Human

“For human beings, the most daunting challenge is to become fully human. For to become fully human is to become fully divine.” ~Thomas Keating

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Elaine Pagels on Diverse Religious Traditions

Most of us, sooner or later, find that, at critical points in our lives, we must strike out on our own to make a path where none exists. What I have come to love in the wealth and diversity of our religious traditions…is that they offer the testimony of innumerable people to spiritual discovery. Thus they encourage those who endeavor, in Jesus’ words, to “seek, and you shall find.” ~ Elaine Pagels

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John Shelby Spong on Christianity

“Christianity is not about the divine becoming human so much as it is about the human becoming divine. That is a paradigm shift of the first order.” ~ Bishop John Shelby Spong

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Whose Streets? feat. Chris Blount and Slim Bracey – MP3

Inspired by the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring, it is an echo of these and a call for something larger.

Come on- brothers and sisters West to East
Don’t let these corporate suit and ties disrespect the streets
Lets be more than outsiders with an angry speech
It’s time to occupy, speak your peace, let’s go!

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