Upon this Rock…


I’m interrupting this story (and finishing the story is making my eyes bleed….) for a quick blog. I wrote the following to my cohort in an online grad program I am in at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. (It is a WONDERFUL school, btw…)

I was finishing my various posts, and submissions for my online seminary studies, and just beginning to close down the various windows I always have open, when I opened  twitter and clicked on the 49 “new tweets”. I followed them down the page and noticed a tweet by my former wife titled “Redemption”, and the following web address:

http://mylifeasg.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/redemption/

It was Greta’s blog. She is a gifted writer and the blog was about an old, inner-city Catholic church which was being dismantled, so I was immediately interested. (Read the blog, it is worth the time, as are the photos).

As I cleared away my stuff and left for dinner, it occurred to me what a great metaphor that inner-city church is of the current state of the larger, world-wide church, especially in the West. A current discussion going on within the church is that we are going through a Second Reformation. It feels to some like the church that was before, and what we have always known, is being torn down, block by doctrinal block. They see it as a threat and are quick to fight, or are just saddened to see what they have known and understood to be dismantled. There are others who are happy to see what was before to go. The church of the past brought them personal pain, so they are glad to see it taken down.

I couldn’t help but see the beauty in the fact that the stones, and windows, and crosses…

Especially the crosses…

…were to be both used in the new church and donated to a church in the neighborhood. Because, isn’t that what you do with the cross? You take it with you AND you share it!

Then… the stones…

Even though they are to be dismantled from the current structure, they will be reused in something new! But I also suspect, there will be at least a few stones which won’t make the trip, for whatever reason, and will instead be covered with soil for whatever comes next on that corner. They will be underground.

I can’t quit thinking about those stones…

Their permanence…

Their solidity…

And actually… their aliveness!

I remembered the words of Jesus to Peter in Matthew 16:15-19:

 

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

I remembered that although the stones maybe living; for we are those stones; the church; the structure; does not belong to us.

The church does not belong to us…

The church does not belong to those coming before us…

The church does not belong to those coming after us…

The church belongs to Christ.

We attend seminary because we love the church. In fact, we are giving our lives to it. There are more than a few people who, at the least, believe us misguided and that we hold onto a myth… the worst kind of myth, built on magic and outdated scientific belief systems… and at worst, are insane and consumed by a desire to limit the freedom of other people. I am sure most of us have at least questioned our own sanity at times, as we have lived through the dissonance of our times within a church in transition.

And the times are dissonant.

But what if the dissonance is only a precursor to new beauty?

Like a composer who writes a period of harmonic dissonance into the score in order to make the chords on the other side much sweeter once the dissonance is resolved.

Dissonance can be painful and confusing, but I would encourage us to hold to each other, as we have been doing in this cohort…

A perfect chord is coming…

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One thought on “Upon this Rock…

  1. Couldn’t stop thinking about the ’emergent church’ the whole time I was taking pictures. It was the most physical example of deconstructing the ‘old’. Then to find out a new church was emerging – using the bones of the old church. Beautiful.

    I didn’t go into it on my blog. Seemed like no one else would have made the same connection…

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