Showing items filed under “March 2017”

Holism in Practice

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I have written before about the assumption which emerged out of the past generation's debate, in mission theology, between ecumenicals (stressing social action), and evangelicals (stressing evangelism): holism. The two are a seamless garment, not to be separated. We can go a step further: a sound vision of the church combines both with the reading of the Bible and the celebration of the sacraments as the primary expressions of God's redemptive action in His world.

We do we see this with particular clarity? I would suggest that the answer is in many of our fellow Anglican churches in the majority world. I am grateful for all the ties we have with NGO's and para- church groups doing heroic work. But we do well to supplement this with those companion relationships with sibling dioceses and parishes where this holism, essential to our very identity, is on display. Such churches are a distinct gift of God to us as part of the Anglican Communion in our time.

 Let me add a more concrete footnote. Historically churches in Africa and Asia in the evangelical, Church Missionary Society tradition have shown this holism more vigorously. Several years ago at a global conference of fellow Anglicans, this indivisibility of witness to the Islamic world, conversion, prayer, and social help was a given. If you would like advice and contacts for just such friendships we can be of help.



Peter at Sea on the Eighth Day

In a recent quiet day on Ash Wednesday at Trinity, Ambridge, I reflected on John 21, and in particular His interrogation of Peter. What if we take that passage as our starting place for ministry, namely our own incapacity and need of forgiveness. What if we can only be its witness to others as people in need of it ourselves? What if ministry begins with forgiveness, a meal with the risen Christ, and being sent out to suffering which Jesus, in the Gospel of John, consistently describes as 'glory'?
We preachers all know of times when our listeners heard things different from what we intended. Well, I had the opposite experience: a seminarian heard more than I said, and expressed it better! So I offer her poem for your own Lenten reflection.

Peter at Sea on the Eighth Day

By Deanna Briody

I have shown myself a servant
neither faithful nor good.
Forgive me, my master, my friend.
Hear my regret even as you lay dead,
bearing my betrayal in both feet, both hands,
   the ghosts of nails
   in your skin.
Know that I have returned to serving the sea
—a lord I can neither kill nor betray—
resuming my life as a fisher of fish
   and rightly so,
   dead master, dead friend.
How is it, then, that you appear even now
on the shore of oceanic inadequacy,
telling me, telling me still,
   where I am
   to cast my net?
How is it that you appear
alive again, bearing a word of promise
and command, and a question
   which begs a surer answer
   than I can give?
Do not cease to ask me,
risen master, risen friend.
Sit with me and eat,
send me out to feed your sheep, but
do not cease to ask me
   until you make of me
   the answer that you seek.
Dress me in yourself, Lord Christ,
and bring me, bring me where I do not
wish to go, that through this dreaded death
—on your cross with arms outstretched—
I may know your risen life,
and come to answer,
   “Yes, my master;
   Yes, my friend;
         I love you.”
           And you need not ask again.