Being A Christian in an Age of Pluralism
As our young people (my own 14 year old included) stand on the precipice of adulthood, poised to make an “Adult” decision to affirm their baptism and join our mighty band of Jesus followers through the Rite of Confirmation—I am struck by how very different the world is for Christians from when most of us “joined the church”! The context in which they live, the questions they ask, the presumptions they carry into their engagement with faith and the church are so different that one could say it is another world—a post-modern world for sure, and a post-Christian world as well. These differences define the context that is leading us to sell our big building and imagine a while new way of being followers and community.
As I was preparing for worship this week, I discovered again (for the first time 😉 Marcus Borg’s reflections on being Christian at a time such as this. Many of you know of his theological reflections and his work as a member of the Jesus Seminar. He is a historian—and yet he is an ardent Christian who finds a way to balance the data and facts of post modernity with a passionate faith life and active religious practice. Here are a few thoughts that seem apropos to a Confirmation Sunday and our youths’ decision (from chapter 11 of Borg’s book, “Living the Heart of Christianity”).
Heart and Home: “Why I’m a Christian”
The Christian tradition is familiar; it is “home” for me. I was born into it and grew up in it. Its stories, language, music, and ethos are familiar. It nurtured me.
I have grown to appreciate its extraordinary richness: its antiquity and wisdom; the beauty of its language and music and forms of worship; its passion for compassion and justice; the sheer goodness of its most remarkable lives. Its worship nourishes me; its hymns move me; its scripture and theology engage my imagination and thought; its practices shape me.
For me, it mediates the good, the true, and the beautiful; and through all these, it mediates the sacred. It is, for me, a sacrament of the sacred. And it is home.
It is familiar to me in a way that no other religion could ever become. Had I been born a Buddhist or a Muslim or a Jew … I am quite sure I would still be one.
But for me, Christianity is “home” like no other tradition could be. For me, the ethos of Christianity – its vision and way of life, its scripture, worship, language, music, thought, vision, and so forth – is home. Home is about more than familiarity and comfort. Home is also about growing up, about maturation, about learning and living a way of life that one takes into the larger world. Christianity is a way of life; that is its heart. To be Christian means living “the path” within this tradition. At the heart of Christianity is the way of the heart –a path that transforms us at the deepest level of our being.
At the heart of Christianity is the heart of God –a passion for our transformation and the transformation of the world. At the heart of Christianity is participating in the passion of God.
What a blessing it will be to learn from our young people this week and beyond—the ways that they are choosing to live as Christians in a pluralistic culture, in this dramatically different and whole new world! May we all see their journey as connected to ours and may we learn new ways of seeing Jesus in each other through them.
Rev. Wendy Miller Olapadefirstname.lastname@example.org