Sunday, May 19, 2013
Sermon: Day of Pentecost C
This is especially true when we talk about our beliefs. We trip over ourselves trying to prove that what we believe now is the same thing as what people believed 2000 years ago, or even longer.
We say that God is unchanging, which may be true, but we don’t know the whole of who God is. So we take our tiny bits of ideas about God, flash-freeze them in time, and present them as if, by their very nature, their un-embodied truths will speak to all people in every time and every place.
It’s as if we think that the glory days of the church were “back then” when the faith was fresh and the Spirit spoke with awesome clarity.
It’s as if we believe that today’s expression of church is a pale imitation of what God has done in previous generations.
I hear this all the time. People wax poetic about the primitive church, and how the early Christians were filled with fiery zeal, upon which we have poured cold institutional water.
Others point to the great church reformers, and the heroism that was shown in restoring a corrupt faith to the “purity” of the original.
Even the father of our Lutheran Church, Martin Luther went to great pains to demonstrate that he is not an original thinker, that he was just a mouthpiece for an ancient proclamation. Theological innovation in the church, we are told, is heresy. A fancy word that means, “really bad and really wrong ideas about God.”
So we ponder the drama of the Reformation story, and are inspired by the Christian heroes who stood up against the enemies of the gospel, and we think, THOSE -THOSE! - were the glory days of the church. Still others look to the recent past with vivid memories of full churches and crowded Sunday School classrooms. They and we remember when committees had more members then they needed, when new church buildings were being constructed weekly, and the budget kept growing, and we say “Those were the church’s glory days.”
We think that God set the standard years ago, and we are not to deviate one iota from what we say God has created.
It’s as if we’re saying that, the more ancient the expression of faith, the more pure it is, since it hadn’t yet been stained by the messy fingerprints of human history.
And when we say that we are not...(whole thing here)