At St. Matthew’s, we are apprentices learning to follow the way of Jesus. We understand Jesus’ Way to embody eight themes, the first of which is the practice of “Story”—finding our stories within the Great Story of Judeo-Christian tradition. But what is the “Great Story”? During Lent and Easter we are going to explore that story using N.T. Wright’s notion of a “Five-Act Play.” Below is a brief, experimental introduction. What in this story captures your imagination or resonates with your own experience? What are your questions?
Where do you encounter God and yourself in this story?
Act 1: Creation. Long ago, when time began, God created the cosmos out of nothing to share in God’s life. God made everything—light, stars, sun, earth, oceans, fish, plants, animals, birds, and people, in order to have more beings to love—and to have beings to love God back. Each being was unique and had its place in the vast fabric of all creation. God created people to belong to God and one another, to thrive in community. Click Here for the Tidings' Creation reflection by Erik Johnson. AND Click Here for Blair's sermon on Creation
Act 2: Fall. But despite being made for harmony with everything else, people became curved in on themselves. Rather than trusting the Creator, the source of life, they sought their own ways. They broke relationships with God and one another and became estranged from the rest of creation. They made selfish choices rather than live generous lives. They forgot the imprint of God in their souls. Their choices became systems of violence that gained momentum, and that caught people, animals, plants, and the earth itself in spirals of injustice, pain, and oppression. Click Here for Dwight's sermon on The Fall. AND Click Here for the Tidings reflection on the Fall by Ron Matross.
Act 3: Israel. So one day God called an older couple named Abraham and Sarah to leave everything and journey to another land, so that God could bless the world through their descendants. God called them even though they were barren; God was once again going to create something out of nothing. Abraham and Sarah believed God and went, and this trust became the foundation for everything that followed. Some of their descendants became the nation of Israel, and although Israel did not always trust God perfectly, God continued to show an alternative vision for human community through their life, a vision sustained by God’s promises. Click Here for Tidings reflection by Valerie Matthews. AND Click Here for Blair's sermon on Israel.
Act 4: Jesus. But people are people, and Israel—just like everyone else—turned in on itself and lost its way. God raised up prophets to call them to faithfulness, but they often sought their own wealth and power above trusting God. So God decided the only way to communicate love to the world was to become human—and not just any human, but a poor person whose country was oppressed by a global empire, Rome. God entered the world in the person of Jesus to show us God’s face. Jesus healed, spoke truth to power, and refused violence—and he was executed a criminal although he was innocent. But he rose from the dead—showing us that love is stronger than death. As we learn to trust Jesus the way Abraham and Sarah trusted God—the God who makes something out of nothing—we ourselves can be re-created. We can be freed from being curved in on ourselves. We can be freed from seeking power over others; we can give ourselves to love instead. Click Here for Ed Lotterman's Reflection on Jesus AND Listen to Phil Boelter's Sermon on Jesus
Act 5: New Creation, New Community. God became human in Jesus to restore people and nature to each other and to God. God did this so we could make choices that do not only serve ourselves, but everything that exists. Today people who follow the way of Jesus seek to trust God, leave the familiar selfishness behind, and travel together. Given new life by the God in whose image they are made, they learn, together, what it means to love; what it means to make choices, not just for themselves, but for everything that God made—including the earth, the plants and animals, the oceans, and all the people of the world. They learn that whenever they become curved in on themselves again, they can turn back toward the love of God and their neighbors—with God’s help. Together, they learn to listen for God’s Spirit—the wind blowing them in the direction of restoration, healing, and wholeness. In this final act of God’s play, the people of God are invited to share and enact God’s living story, in continuity with all that has gone before, with people everywhere. Together, they trust that ultimately, God will make everything whole. Chick Here for Marcia and Larry Roepke's Reflection on New Community AND Listen to Blair Pogue's Easter sermon.
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