In our staff meetings we allocate time regularly for leadership skill development.
Continuing our discussion of communication, we watched the following video
Elizabeth Lesser - Take the "Other" to Lunch
She also appeared with Guy Raz on Ted Radio Hour, and you can read the transcript here or download the mp3 and listen here.
Here are some of our quick notes for your reference.
As we "partner with our neighbors to experience God's transforming love" we will increasingly be called to practices like this - getting to know and appreciate (and eventually love) our neighbors.
"Neighboring" as a verb means to treat "the other" as we want to be treated, and seek to know and see the image of God in them.
Start by taking "the other" to lunch.
See you at the table.
SERMON NOTES for 072218:
(TEXTS: Jeremiah 23:1-6; Ephesians 2:11-22)
From the perspective of the Covenant of God with Abraham and his descendants, the human race was divided into two groups: Jews and Gentiles (literally “races” or “peoples”). Paul calls them “circumcised and uncircumcised” (Eph 2:11). That’s it. The whole human race divided into “God’s covenant people” and “everyone else”. Which may sound harsh and cynical and frankly pretty narcissistic of the Hebrew people and stingy of God. Till you actually hear WHY the children of Abraham were called:
Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Genesis 12:1-3)
BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING
Abraham was promised that, through the covenant God was establishing, the world would experience blessing. That was the purpose of the special relationship. The people often lost sight of that. The covenant became a source of pride rather than humility, and the covenant became a wedge and a hammer rather than a source of healing and flourishing. Until finally Jeremiah had to say, “You’re going to be in captivity 70 years for your faithlessness. And after that time God will redeem and restore you.
In the meantime... return to your first purpose. Bless your neighbors. Put down roots and commit to your community like you love it, like you need it and they need you. For you will only be able to experience God’s blessings to the degree that you first bless others.” (Jeremiah 29:4-15 paraphrase) Those people in that other group, the ones who you consider “outsiders”, love them as you love me.
And then along comes Jesus, who “breaks down the dividing wall and the hostility between us, making of the two groups one people.” (Eph 2:14-16). Because of the work of Christ on the cross, there are no longer two groups of people. There is just one chosen people, the human race. The call still exists to be a blessing. Its extends now to all humanity, and those who hear it are drawn into it. Whether people recognize, believe, accept or embrace this, it is a true and completed fact. God has extended the call of “blessed to be a blessing” to the whole human race. Jesus is the redeemer and savior of all. There are no insiders and outsiders any longer. There are no hoops to jump through or requirements to meet.
YOU ARE BELOVED. YOU BELONG.
The witness of the gospel of Jesus as Paul articulates it to the Ephesians is that God through Jesus has done away with the distinctions that used to separate Jew from Gentile – chosen from excluded. The church has spent much time, spilling measureless ink and blood, to declare and prove that some are IN while others are OUT. It continues today, with people still arguing in word and practice the following: Male = In / Female = Out. Straight = In / Gay = Out. Rich = In / Poor = Out. White = In / Everyone Else = Out. God declares that the dividing walls are torn down. The borders and barriers that we erect between us, and even that scripture has been interpreted to construct, are eliminated.
You don’t have to change to belong. You already belong. Everyone belongs. Welcome home.
As you come, allow God to continue working in and through you to move toward fullness and flourishing. God accepts and welcomes us as we are, but does not leave us such. God calls and crafts us forward from chaos to wholeness.
What are some useful and reliable measures of “True Faith”?
Plumb Line. Used in construction to ensure that the upper parts of a structure built upon the foundation are square and in line with the cornerstone. Are the walls vertical and true?
The first element in a structure is the corner stone, from which all measures are taken horizontally, vertically and diagonally (to ensure square angles). When setting frame timbers, or building a masonry wall, the plumb line helps to ensure that the walls are perfectly vertical, and set directly over the cornerstone rather than leaning in or out.
It is vital to remember that the chief cornerstone for our faith is not the Law of Moses, or any other set of rules. Jesus is the chief cornerstone for the community of faith (Eph 2:20). His person. His reality. His teaching and witness and ministry of healing and justice and transformation. Jesus is the primary reference point for our lives of faith, from which we line and measure so that we are true and plumb with His work.
Jesus, as much as we can know him, is known through the witness of scripture, from the teachings of the church through the last 2000 years, and through the ongoing witness and teaching of the Holy Spirit who continues what Jesus began. Another term we might use is canon – as in the canon of scripture – derives from the Greek word for a ruler or measuring stick. It was a piece of reed or bamboo that was cut to a standard length and could then be used to ensure everything else “measured up”.
The Christian Faith is built upon the identity of Jesus, who is the canon for matters of faith. We ask questions like, “How does this ‘measure up’ against what we know about the life, teachings and work of Jesus? Paul tells us that “in Him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col 1:19). So Jesus is God’s self-revelation to us. Jesus is what God wants us to know about God’s self. Jesus is thus the measure of what is true about God, or at least what God wants us to trust and upon which we build our lives.
The question remains, “What measures do you (we) use to confirm that our own words and actions align with the person of Jesus?” What is our plumb line to ensure that we are building lives of faith (and the church) true to the chief cornerstone?