Sunday, August 1, 2010

September 09 Meeting

[Note: While we have met every month from 09 until present, meeting summaries like this one are no longer being written and posted. Thank you for your patience.]
“I don't want knowledge, I want certainty” - David Bowie, from the song Law, on his album Earthling.

Ten of us gathered at Laura’s Cuban Restaurant on September 1st to share a meal and continue our conversation about emerging and missional church and what it means to us. We discussed excerpts from Scot McKnight’s book, A Community Called Atonement focusing on Pentecost and the Holy Spirit in our lives.

We looked at Act 2:17 & 18, Jeremiah 31:33 and McKnight’s comments, “The covenant Israel had broken was being renewed by the gift of the Spirit, who was written into the very heart of the believer. This time, unlike the experience of the older covenant, the covenant would be unbreakable, internal, and democratic. This new covenant issues in the forgiveness of sins and peace for all people…The essence of new covenant thinking is the conviction that the Spirit of God was at work in a new and powerful way – restoring the covenant, renewing people, and recreating the community of faith.”

For Robin M., “internal” meant we now have the law of God in us instead of external to us, and it is God himself who is explaining it to us. The religious leaders of the day got caught up in externals, in laws, and missed the bigger point.

We talked about how God works in the midst of brokenness and seeming chaos. Melissa has seen how the Spirit has restored and healed people, within groups and families.

We explored how the Spirit “recreates the community of faith.” Deb talked about how God works through our weaknesses, “The more cracks in your pot, the more light for others. Cracked pots water the flowers.” Simone spoke of how she has learned valuable lessons from her relationships with others. Robin M. put it this way, “We can’t have true holiness in relation to God until we bump up against others in community. Then it all comes into play.” Kennedy spoke of the how being vulnerable and bearing one’s soul to another can be freeing and humbling. Michelle added that church can also be a dangerous place to open up and share. And Kimberly commented that others with you in community can challenge the way you think.

Simone asked why it seemed like the church, especially through centuries of European culture, seemed to make so many mistakes instead of really bringing God’s Kingdom to earth. Melissa recalled that we’re imperfect and don’t always follow the Spirit. Michelle added that God doesn’t force us to do the right thing. Steve W. and Robin M. mentioned about how the church is growing exponentially in other parts of the world and how there are constant acts of loving others happening all the time that just don’t get the press. Michelle added that we are each responsible to make a difference, and for Kimberly that meant treating others like we want to be treated.

Kennedy talked about how Christianity keeps reverting back to hierarchies, power relationships and conditional love. It’s easier in many ways to be told what to do. On the other hand, following the Spirit internally can be tougher, but is the way that really heals. It’s the Spirit who inspires us to live in true community instead of the camouflage of religiosity. Robin M. added that the church adopted the idea from the Roman Empire that all you have to do is grow numerically, but that’s not real growth. At the same time, denominations are too busy arguing about theology and miss the point. Also, there are different expectations too often for “paid” and “un-paid” Christians (i.e. clergy and lay people) and our focus is too often about on what happens on Sunday morning, but we are all Christians in community seven days a week.

Kathy said that people often feel the loneliest at church. They don’t fit in or people are not being real. There are superficial handshakes but people are too busy with church programs to deal with people’s needs. John added that healing many times needs to start with oneself.

We concluded that conversion most often happens through relationships and that “Christianity is caught and not taught.” Kennedy said that for the Spirit to work through us in relationship, we need to not approach others with an agenda, “to put another notch in our Bible,” but just for who they are. Deb ended with a Holy Spirit prayer.

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