Saturday, October 3, 2009

Jesus Talk: Having Testamints in your Pocket or Rediscovering the Art of Discipleship


Dan Kimball, author and pastor at Vintage Faith church in Santa Cruz, California, wrote:

Jesus is everywhere. I recently walked into a gas station to pay for some gas and saw some Jesus bobble-heads for sale on a shelf. I was kind of surprised to see Jesus in the gas station, but there he was, three or four of him standing in a row. As I waited to pay for the fifteen gallons I had pumped into my rusty 1966 Ford Mustang, the Jesus bobble-heads silently stared at me, all politely smiling and nodding in unison.

Not too long afterward, I visited a major clothing chain store. Near the entry was a display for the Jesus Action Figure. Probably a dozen or more Jesuses hung in nice plastic packaging that declared, “With pose-able arms and gliding action!” While I stood there looking at them, a woman in her early twenties grabbed one from the rack. She enthusiastically said to her companion, “I love these!” and off she ran to the cash register with Jesus under her arm.”

I love Jesus and I love all things Jesus. But it really is amazing how many people love Jesus but don’t love the church. If we are going to reclaim the art of discipleship we are going to have to reclaim it in the midst of our world and our culture in America. We are going to have to reclaim discipleship from a dying Protestant Christianity as it exists today. We are going to have to reclaim discipleship from the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church. We are going to have reclaim discipleship even though there are theological and practical stumbling blocks.

I am a missionary and I want to work within a missionary church alive within a growing missionary field, in relationship with disciples who wish to follow the way of Jesus. I believe that Christianity, particularly Anglicanism through the lens of the Episcopal Church, has something fundamentally unique to offer those who are seeking to follow Jesus. I believe and am committed to an Episcopal Church and an Episcopal Diocese in Texas that is actively making the world a better place tomorrow than it is today. I believe that our church and our people, you and I, are called to be partners with Jesus Christ restoring the world around us.

I have invited several friends to visit with us about their views and their experience and so we will hear stories from the mission front about God, Jesus, Christians and communities. We will look to the past through the lens of our Gospel (Mark, Luke, and John specifically). And, we will think about methods and models for our future. Tonight I want us to begin to reclaim the art of discipleship, by: understanding the world and culture in which we are living; understanding the challenge organized religion faces in this culture; and, understanding the stumbling blocks that lie before us as Episcopalians. Many of us here have been having these conversations about emerging topics of interest. We have been listening and engaging in a conversation of “generous orthodoxy,” “off road disciplines” and the “renewing of our heart.” But it is time to bring it home to the Episcopal Church.

(intro to “The Art and Method of Discipleship,”The Blandy Lectures, SSW, 2009)

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  • "Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • "Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer." Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • "Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others." Kathleen Norris
  • "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley
  • "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton
  • "One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans." C. S. Lewis
  • "When we say, 'I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,' we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the church seldom asks us for forgiveness." Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
  • "Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it." Bono
  • "It's too easy to get caught in our little church subcultures, and the result is that the only younger people we might know are Christians who are already inside the church." Dan Kimball