Wednesday, January 16, 2008

not afraid to die

I've been musing on this for a while.  I meant this to be more elegant, but decided inelegant and existent is better than elegant but only imagined...  

Tonight in Vespers, as we read of Simeon and his gracious blessing and willingness to die (having seen salvation in the form of an infant Jesus), it came to me again:
How come we're good at preaching that people should be unafraid to die when we're afraid of the death of our denomination?

After the scripture, it came back in the communion liturgy.  How Jesus "freed us from slavery to fear and death."

My wondering is about how the denomination--in my case the United Methodist Church--is like a person.  I have this sense that we are.  And, that our preoccupation with our own decline (we don't actually say "death") is preventing us from living faithfully, fearlessly, freely.  Which, it seems to me, is what we ought to be about.

Not, of course, that we shouldn't always be concerned with how to change ourselves up to be relevant--I'm just supposing that, if we were primarily concerned with vital ministry in the lives of individuals and communities, we couldn't help but do that.  If we were always doing those things Jesus said to do--caring for the poor, the widows, the orphans.  Doing justice and building peace.  

Sometimes, we get caught up in argument about semantics.  Like how we describe the ways we need to change.  I think we fall short when we're talking about ways we need to change "so that the denomination doesn't die."  When we keep caught on how to change so we're building the kin-dom of God, we should be much better off.

I'm just saying that if death (or "decline," as we prefer) has us caught in fear, we've got no chance.  I believe in resurrection.



karen said...

Now I see the connection between Simeon and the beatitudes!

Eloquently said, Molly.

And even better lived without fear!

KristaBeth said...

Preach it!

RevErikaG said...

Do you suppose that some of the reason we're so afraid is that our culture is all about encouraging the primacy of the fear factor in our lives?
You are right-- we preach about resurrection, but we experience the finality of we sell God short by fearing that new life won't happen if the Church dies?
Digging up some good stuff, friend...

RevErikaG said...

Oh, and the title made me shuffle Gillian Welch this morning....lovely!

Marian said...

This kinda thinking is why I'm so glad you get to represent for us at the big conference.