Sunday, March 06, 2011
Kim Fabricius writes, in a sermon 'published' on Ben Myers blog, on the subject of homelessness....not quite the discussion homelessness you might expect, as the following couple of paragraphs indicate [my italics in the first paragraph]
There has been a lot of talk over the past decade or so about the church at the end of Christendom being a church in exile, often rather glib talk, in my view, because it has neglected to acknowledge the Old Testament significance of exile, and the traumatic experience of exile, namely, God’s judgement on Israel, God’s punishment of Israel by their dispersal to Babylon. Without this recognition, it is easy for Christians to slip into a victim mentality, in which we blame church decline on secularism or atheism. Without this recognition, we rather too quickly start “re-imagining the future” (as the process of renewal was called in the URC in Wales) without confessing and repenting the sins of our past – sins mainly of taking too much for granted, sins of apathy and lethargy, the sins of civic religion.
And then there are the three dangers of living in exile. The first is nostalgia, pining for the good old days and trying to re-inscribe them in the reality of today. But – remember King Canute – you can’t command the tides of time to withdraw. The second danger is withdrawal, disengaging from the big bad world of today altogether and circling the wagons. This is the sectarian option and it is not only cowardly and faithless, it is also a recipe for further decline and ultimate disappearance. And then there is the third danger, assimilation, whereby we think we can save the church by aping the ways of the world, as if all we’ve got to do is to market and manage the church more strategically and effectively to be “successful”. But then the customer, not the gospel, becomes sovereign, and though the church gain the whole world, it loses its soul.