Friday, August 28, 2015

missional theology of sacraments and the church

Thesis 1 – The sacraments are about the Spirit, not the church. This initial move establishes God as the rightful author and agent of sacramental theology.

Thesis 2 – The Spirit can fall on who and whatever it wants. This is consistent with the Biblical data, in which God keeps surprising. We see this in the ministry of Jesus, most particularly the encounter with the Syro-phonecian woman. Interestingly, this has links with sacramental theology, in the reference to crumbs from the table. We see this also in Peter’s encounter in Acts. Again, I note that this also has links with sacramental theology, in the invitation to eat.

Thesis 3 – The role of the church is thus not to define sacramentality, but to discern sacramentality. The church remains essential to a sacramental theology, not as a definer and defender of boundaries, but as an ongoing discerner. David Ford, in Self and Salvation: Being Transformed notes that the Eucharist is “true to itself only by becoming freshly embodied in different contexts.” This is a way of understanding “rightly ordered”, as an invitation to authentic embodiment.

Thesis 4 – This requires a rich and complex set of tools. We see this move (struggle even) toward discernment, in both the narratives mentioned above, as Jesus affirms the great faith of the Syro-phonecian woman and Peter discerns freshly the work of God. Both of this moves require a process of reflection – in community, by grace, with coherence to the interweaving of experience and tradition. The role of missional theological education necessitates developing skills in these processes. It is this that will enable sacramental practice to emerge from those gathered in community gardens, around skate parks and amid the tables of messy church. The result will be that indeed, in bread, wine and water, Christ will feed the church.

Posted by steve at 10:18 AM

Thursday, March 19, 2009

debaptism: a theological punch in the nose

A historian, an atheist, a theologian and a missiologist sat around the lunch table. Wearily they blew steam from their morning cup of tea. The atheist searched for his lighter, the theologian thanked God for her sandwich, the historian fretted over the suduko, the missiologist enjoyed the letters to the editor. All four glanced up, intrigued by the TV newsflash “Debaptise yourself!” Turn it up, the athist asked, and they listened intrigued …

The atheist punched the air in delight. At last, a chance to write a wrong. He’d always been angry at the smirk on the Anglican church’s face when it came to baptism, the way that baptismal numbers were used to swell their sense of societal importance, their colonial paternalism that assumed that somehow God owned him. (more…)

Posted by steve at 11:01 AM

Sunday, February 22, 2009

the grapejuice sparkled

A real celebration at Opawa this morning, with the baptism of T. She wanted it to be a party. So as T. came up out of the water, a bottle of sparkling was opened. As the cork was popped, arcing over the piano, there were cheers of celebration, followed by a community toast “to life.” It was a great expression of God’s goodness and life.

T. first stepped into the Opawa building when she joined us for our annual Spring clean day. (Annually we combine with local community groups, sharing in community projects, enjoying food together. I initiated the Spring Clean when I arrived at Opawa 5 years ago, and it has grown and strengthened ever year since).

Before that, Opawa’s relational involvement with the local community cottage, meant some relational bridges with T. had naturally formed. (This includes one of our pastoral staff, whose role includes hanging out in the community). Following the Spring Clean day, T. checked out church and has continued to grow.

A tear leaked from my eyes as we toasted life. T. is the second baptism in the last few months of an adult, a local, with little previous church involvement. It’s not always been easy being the minister at Opawa, and leading major change in a historic and conservative church. Today just makes it all worth it.

It caps off a great week for the church – excellent annual meeting, a new discipling group in the form of Life Shapes begun, a successful first Bible day, gathering around the Gospel of John. It just feels like the Kingdom – harmony in a diverse body, intentional growth structures, deepening of Biblical engagement, new life being celebrated.

Posted by steve at 09:33 PM

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

do you renounce cultural evil?

Ever a provactive thinker, Mike Treston gifted me a phrase today; “cultural exorcism.” Reflecting on the place of confirmation in a post-Christendom culture, he wrote; “I think this is what is missing, excorcism was always apart of the catechesis rites of the anicent church, a cultural excorcism could be very impotant now also.” Link

To which I commented on his blog:
I really like the phrase “cultural exorcism.” That is very good. When I baptise people I ask them 3 questions as they enter the pool – do you follow Jesus, do you repent, do you renounce evil?

I have been pondering tying those questions to a more in-depth catachetical programme. That phrase “renouncing cultural evil” suddenly gives great scope for exploration of consumerism, social justice, living simply. Thanks heaps for the phrase Mike.


For more on what I actually do in terms of re-imagining baptism as ancient future:


Posted by steve at 09:30 PM