Affirmations

I like it when I get affirmations about things I see in the Scriptures. A couple of examples of this took place this last week.

First, in Education for Ministry (EfM), Year One is reading the Old Testament (or Jewish Scriptures). Our lesson was over the call and covenant of Abraham. Well, the whole Abraham story, actually. Anyway, there is a great scene when YHWH makes the covenant with Abraham. In Genesis 15.17-18a, we read:
After the sun went down and darkness fell, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses. So the Lord made a covenant with Abram that day (New Living Translation, emphasis added).

Notice again the 'smoking firepot and a flaming torch'. What is the first thing that pops into your head when you read that? For a number of years I have seen the Exodus in those symbols. In the Exodus, YHWH lead the people by a 'pillar of cloud' during the day and a 'pillar of fire' at night (Exodus 13.21). In the EfM lesson book, referring to Genesis 15.17ff, it stated, 'We see later how God is present to Israel in the wilderness in the form of "pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night".' Finally! I'm not the only one who sees this! Or, perhaps there are plenty of others who sees this too, but that was the first time (I can remember) of someone else pointing it out.

The next affirmation came today during our adult Sunday School class. A couple of years ago, I was talking to a couple of very close friends of mine. We were discussing our mutual journeys and how we think that Western Christianity (particularly in the US) must change. (There is a lot of background to this story that I won't get into here). At one point, however, I had an epiphany. I said, 'Do you remember when Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life"?'

'Yes.'

'What if that is a process?'

'What do you mean?'

'Well, for the longest time, at least the length our lives in the faith, the church has gone straight to 'the life' part. "This is it. This is the only thing that is important." We have been seeing that that is not the case. There is more to it than that. We see that it's more like a journey. What if it would be better if we said, "I'm on this journey. I'm going this 'way'. Why don't you come with me?" And then, along this way, we discover some 'truth'. And then, as we continue on this 'way', learning 'truth' we discover 'life'. What if that is more of what Jesus is meaning there in John?'

This morning in Sunday School class our teacher said basically the same thing. We read the story known as 'The Road to Emmaus' and he said, 'Notice the direction of the story. The couple was heading this way (away from Jerusalem toward Emmaus) and along the way, this person shows up and travels with them. During this journey, going this way, the couple tells their companion why they are down. The companion (Jesus) says, "Let me show you in the Scriptures why these things happened." Then, the couple stops and show hospitality to the companion. And during the meal, they recognized the companion as Jesus. But then what happened? They went back the other way, toward Jerusalem. That is called a "conversion experience"; a "turning around". For the longest time, most churches in America have told people a set of rules, "This is it. This is what you are to believe." But what if we told them a story? What if we walked with them and they with us in this story. And along the way, they discover some truths. And they change their own lives. We don't force them into a set of rules. We invite them on a journey. We ask them to join us in an ongoing story. And we tell them the story.'

I was thinking, 'Yes! Exactly! Someone else sees it.'

Perhaps I have always been an Episcopalian but just didn't know it.

Peace be with you.

+ OD

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Have you ever had experiences like that?

Comments

Anglican said…
Excellent post. Here's another way it all just comes together: Before the names "Christian" or "Christianity" even surfaced, the faith was often simply known as The Way.

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