Friday, April 04, 2008

Holy Encouragement

Easter 3 – Year A

In his "Reader's Companion" at the end of The Gospel of Gabriel: A Life of Jesus the Christ", Edward Hays has this note on the importance of the rest of Easter Day, not just the morning –

"The radical church, the church of social, liturgical and religious reform, has been called the fastest dying church in the world, says Ched Myers. It is rare to see the enthusiasm and hope of the early years of the second half of the twentieth century, which abounded with zestful renewal in the life of the church and a desire for ecumenical unity. Weariness and sadness burden many servants, as well as members of the church. This weariness is not just due to overwork, but is more a measure of what afflicted the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, the loss of hope. Myers says, 'The radical discipleship movement today is beleaguered and weary. So many of our communities…(that have tried) to integrate the pastoral and prophetic, resistance and contemplation…are disintegrating…. The gravity exerted by imperial culture's seductions, deadly mediocrities, and deadly codes of conformity pull our aspirations plummeting down. The ability of metropolis to either crush or co-opt movements of dissent seems inexhaustible.' See Myers, Binding the Strong Man, p. 455. The twin Emmaus sacraments of the breaking of the bread and holy encouragement need to be celebrated together frequently by disciples so that Jesus' work of making all things new can continue." (p. 379)

Has much changed in the twelve years since this book was published? My sense is that there isn't quite the angst that there was in the "radical church", but I'm not convinced that there is much in the way of evidence that it is much revived (though there are some bits and pieces in research such as The Practicing Congregation that suggest renewal). It may simply be that folks have finally given up a win/lose perception and moved to one of "radical discipleship", faithfulness in the moment, whether one wins or loses.

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