Monday, December 7, 2009

A project?

I've been thinking a lot lately about a T.S. Eliot quote that Paul, our senior pastor at Central, likes to use: "Our beginnings know our endings." The actual quote is "In my beginning is my end," (from the poem "East Coker") but the concept is the same. I've been thinking about this as I often do in relation to the church, specifically the church in America in 2009, specifically to mainline churches in tension with ourselves, with culture, with scripture, with evangelical churches, with ... you name it.

Lately I am thinking that we have lost touch with our beginnings. I was listening to an online forum with the presiding bishop of the ELCA yesterday and I was struck by how frequently he talked about "mission". We need to engage in mission. We need to enhance mission. We must stay focused on mission. Mission suffers when we are in conflict. If congregations or individuals withhold funds from our churchwide organization, mission suffers. But I don't believe we have a clear sense of what "mission" is -- because we have lost touch with our beginnings. This is true at many levels. I think it would be great fun to wade through the first dozen chapters of Genesis to see what God says about our beginnings, and what we can learn there about our mission. Paul made reference to this in his sermon (you can link to it here) yesterday and it brought me back to this train of thought. He spoke of chaos and fear and Jesus' presence in creation. What could we learn about who we are and where we are headed if we took a hard look at Genesis 1-12? Might be fun.

Winter is always writing time for me, and I think this might end up being the winter's writing project.

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