Sunday, February 25, 2018

Revitalizing the church: Full partnership required

Joyce Sasse - I have been privileged to have spent a life-time working with the Christian church in Canada and round the world.

While the Church has made missteps, it has also enabled countless individuals and institutions to find justice and healing, comfort and hope in chaotic times.

If it is to remain vital to its essential purpose though, the Church must stay committed to a 3-fold partnership between “leaders” (bringing the traditions and rituals), the “seekers” (bringing the voices of the world) and “the power” (that enables the spirit of Jesus to fuel us).

To understand the implications of this partnership, spiritual mentor Joan Chittister directs our attention to two Biblical stories.

Ruth, the foreign widow from Moab, offered to accompany Naomi, her wise grieving mother-in-law, back to her home in Bethlehem. Naomi, in turn, helped the younger woman find spiritual refuge with the Jewish people. Who could have foreseen how, out of this partnership, Ruth (the outsider) would become Great Grandmother to David (Israel’s Messiah)?

Again, we see the power of partnership develop when Paul (the first Christian missionary) met Timothy. Paul recognized how Timothy’s youth and Greek ancestry could form connecting bridges for him. The spirit fueled the flame by which Timothy helped Paul bring his message to new frontiers.

When the three participants enlighten and energize and empower each other, the Church is revitalized. Failure happens when one partner tries to out-do the other, or when the Church tries to hoard its “achievements” for itself.

Because the Church is a living entity, it changes with each generation. Its expression “always fresh for one age and people, starts over again for (the next generation).”

Chittister wisely points out - “those who have the gift of knowledge use a torch to illuminate the way for others. But the enlightened become the torch that leads the way.”

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