“Just as ‘believers’ are a dime a dozen in the church, so are ‘activists’ in social justice circles nowadays. But lovers are hard to come by. And I think that’s what our world is desperately in need of—lovers, people who are building deep, genuine relationships with fellow strugglers along the way, and who actually know the faces of the people behind the issues they are concerned about. We are trying to raise up an army not simply of street activists but of lovers—a community of people who have fallen desperately in love with God and with suffering people, and who allow those relationships to disturb and transform them.” (p. 281). Is yours a community of “lovers?”
“‘These are extreme times,’ Dr King said. The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love?‘ The world has seen Christian extremists who will blow up abortion clinics and dance on the doctor’s graves. We have seen Christian extremists who hold up signs that say, ‘God hates fags.’ The world has seen Christian extremists who declare war in the name of the Lamb. But where are the Christian extremists for love and grace?” (p. 259). Have you known some extremists for love and grace?
“I’m convinced that the world is looking not for Christians who are perfect but for Christians who are honest. And the problem is that we haven’t been honest, and we have pretended that we are perfect. The church should be a place where imperfect people can fall in love with a perfect God.” (p. 237). In what ways can the church be more honest?
“Sometimes people ask me if I am scared, living in the inner city. I usually reply, ‘I’m more scared of the suburbs.’ The Scriptures say that we should not fear those things which can destroy the body, but we are to fear that which can destroy the soul (Matt. 10:28). While the ghettos may have their share of violence and crime, the suburbs are the home of more subtle demonic forces—numbness, complacency, comfort—and it is these that can eat away at our souls.” (p. 217). Claiborne goes on to talk about God who is not at all safe, but who is good. What is dangerous about the gospel stories? What are some dangerous gospel stories you know of from your own life?
“A gospel that is not political is no gospel at all. The root of the word allegiance means ‘Lord’; that’s exactly what the early Christians where executed for, for pledging an allegiance to another kingdom, another Lord—treason. In 2004, as the presidential election rolled around, many of us studied the Scriptures and considered what it means to claim Jesus as Lord, or as President.” (p 182). What are our competing allegiances?
“It is much more comfortable to depersonalize the poor so we don’t feel responsible for the catastrophic human failure that results in someone sleeping on the street while people have spare bedrooms in their homes. We can volunteer in a special program or distribute excess food and clothing through organizations and never have to open up our homes, our beds, our dinner tables.”
“Think about how many of the gospel stories happen because of interruptions and surprises. Jesus is `on his way’ somewhere and someone pulls on his shirt, invites him to their house, runs out of wine at their wedding. With our obsession with time, routine, predictability, and schedules, we miss out on things if we don’t make space for interruptions. Many great things have been born here over the past twenty years because we allowed for interruptions—from St. Ed’s to five minutes ago when I chose to answer the door. Constantly we have to remind ourselves that interruption may not be distractions; they may be divine appointments.” (p 106). How do you make space for interruptions?
“The temptation we face is to compromise the cost of discipleship, and in the process, the Christian identity can get lost. We don’t want folks to walk away. We’re driven by a sincere longing for others to know God’s love and grace and to experience Christian community. And yet we can end up merely cheapening the very thing we want folks to experience.” (p.92) How has your church wrestled with being sensitive to seekers?
“As Mother Teresa would say (telling the old story about throwing starfish back into the ocean even through they continue to line the beach in thousands). ’We are called not to be successful but to be faithful.’ That sounds good, but it was the beginning of my years of struggling with the tension between efficiency and faithfulness.” (p 69) How do we measure our ministries? By how successful they are or how faithful?
Join fellow Episcopalians across the state in a Summer book reading of Shane Claiborne’s, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical. Shane will be with us at Diocesan Convention this fall as our keynote speaker. Shane is a prominent speaker, activist, and best-selling author. Shane worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, and founded The Simple Way in Philadelphia. He heads up Red Letter Christians, a movement of folks who are committed to living "as if Jesus meant the things he said." Shane is a champion for grace which has led him to jail advocating for the homeless, and to places like Iraq and Afghanistan to stand against war. Now grace fuels his passion to end the death penalty and help stop gun violence.