Everywhere You Look, The Forward

Please remember that we are not meeting tonight. On August 22 we will begin our reading of  Pastor Tim Sorens’s book, Everywhere You Look: Discovering the Church Right Where You Are. Next Tuesday we will be discussing Chapters 1 and 2.

The Forward to the book is written by Walter Brueggemann. Brueggemann is an ordained United Church of Christ minister and is an Old Testament Professor at Columbia Theological (Presbyterian) with a focus on the prophets. If you are familiar with Brueggemann’s work, one of his reoccurring themes is that the church is never static Rather, the church is always both being renewed by the Spirit and is the renewing agent within the world that looks forward to and helps bring about the new heaven and the new earth as prophetically foretold in Isaiah 65 and Revelation 21. In the Forward, Brueggemann sees his vision of the church reflected in Sorens’s book.

For Brueggemann, a healthy church can never be a church that looks nostalgically backward towards a previous (and often misremembered) golden era. The church (meaning both The Church and our local congregation) can either be about institutional decay or vibrant movement. We can either be preoccupied with survival and maintenance or we can be moving forward in creating and renewing both our church community and our wider secular communities. In other words, we are called to be part of the Jesus Movement, not the Jesus Institution.

Brueggemann introduces us to the two key components of a vibrant movement church. First, we must see the Spirit at work in the world. We live in a world of fear, greed, and hostility, and the Spirit counters the world by making room for a peaceable generosity grounded in love that runs beyond our own capacity. The second component of a vibrant church is that its members deeply committed not only to the mission of the church but to each other for a common life of trust, joy, and honesty.

This great vision of a vibrant movement church we see explicitly at the end of the story of Pentecost in Acts 2:43-47. We also see this description of movement church throughout 1 John where love overcomes the fear that the world gives us. If you have time before next week, read through Acts 2 and 1 John.

If you need a book, please let me know.

And all who believed were together and had all things in common.

Acts 2:42

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