The Corridor: November 2008

The Corridor

We are a church community committed to having an incarnational presence in the Washington/Baltimore Corridor.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Mighty Expectation, Past Present and Future!

The scripture in this first week of Advent, particularly Mark 13, is very dark, terrifying, apocalyptic, and yet ironically hopeful.

"Eschatology" is often oversimplified to simply meaning the study of "end times". Unfortunately the idea has been twisted and perverted in the imaginations of many western evangelicals who confuse eschatology with stories like the "Left behind" series. Advent helps us to see Christian eschatology as actually far more hopeful than it is often portrayed. It is about the hope and anticipation of things to come as God's Kingdom breaks into the world. Ironically, this isn't all about the future but about the present and the past as well.

The coming of Jesus into the world brought a message of "peace on earth" and "good will toward mankind". What does this mean in a world that still seems as full of violence and injustice as it was on the day when Jesus was born? Mark’s contemporary audience would have understood this dilemma more than most of us today. If anyone could scoff and be skeptical of hope for “peace on earth” it would be those who first read the gospel of Mark, his contemporary audience between 60 and 70 AD. The bleak descriptions in chapter 13 certainly would not have been seen as a timeline for some distance future, but a description of their present reality.

Yet, even in the midst of such bleakness, as the world seems to becoming undone and the sky itself is falling, we see are told to look for Jesus coming in these very clouds of apparent despair as a way to remind us that the world is not as much being undone as it is being re-made. As one could judge the change of seasons by observing the fig tree, this is how followers of Jesus should learn to understand such signs of the times.

Things certainly were bleak in the time of Mark’s original audience. A Jewish revolt was taking place, and signs that Jesus’ prediction about the falling of the temple seemed inevitable; certainly it would soon fall very shortly after Mark’s gospel was written. Mark was the first to record a gospel on paper as many of the first eyewitnesses of the church had been killed or had died off. There were also other Jewish revolutionaries springing up claiming to be the Christ; as many would understand this to mean the chosen leader of Israel that would liberate them by sword from the tyranny of Rome. But Mark’s gospel reminds them that this is not the way of the true Christ and we are instructed not follow such false Messiahs.

No, the Way of Jesus is much different than the Jewish revolt taking place in their midst; much different from the wars and violence of the world around them. Mark points them back to Jesus’ words that liken him to a man gone off on a journey and leaving his servants in charge. In this the church is instructed to stay on task and be about the Master’s business as we keep a watchful and expectant eye out for his return. We are invited to participate in God’s re-creation project in the world in which we live as we are called to live this new Way of Jesus in the midst of the troubled and dying world around us.

In fact we should “keep awake” and “watch” for God to work in such dire circumstances. The sky isn’t falling, and the world isn’t going to end; it is being re-made at the hands of our creator and redeemer. How can we watch for this in a way that keeps us on task to participate in God’s re-creation in the world in which we live?

This is what Advent is all about, as we watch for the Kingdom of God breaking into this dark world. Advent explores the question of how Jesus fulfilled his message of hope, how he is fulfilling it now, and how we can still anticipate hope for the future; even in the shadow of darkness, violence, injustice, sin and death in the world.

Tonight we will be using clips and our own recollection of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" to talk about how we can find hope in a world where our past, present and future can often sound a lot like a ghost story. We will look to discover the power in the message of Advent seen through the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge, who changes before our eyes from a vessel of pain and injustice to one of redemption for himself and his community.

"A Christmas Carol captures the eschatological flavor of the Advent season in the truest sense of the word as it ties together the anticipation of God's Kingdom, and its transformational power, in the past, present, and future. This power is mightily seen in this story through the transformation of one man which changes before our eyes from a vessel of pain and injustice to one of redemption for himself and his community.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Jesus for President

We are currently doing a book study of "Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals" by by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw.

The book and discussion is NOT about "baptizing" any political party as "Christian," but rather about how Jesus engaged his world , including the politics of his day, and often turned political terms and ideas on their ear to talk about something radically different.

This election season certainly has put politics on everyone's brain. Regardless of your political views or the presidential candidate your voting for, this book and discussion will perhaps help us explore a new way to look at both "faith" an "politics" as followers of Jesus.

Sunday, November 2, 2008 – Before there were Kings and Presidents
Sunday, November 9, 2008 – A New Kind of Commander and Chief
Sunday, November 16, 2008 – When the Empire Got Baptized
Sunday, November 23, 2008 – A Peculiar Party

You can also watch Shane Claiborne's and Chris Haw's "Jesus for President tour" below. I went to the one here in DC and it was fantastic.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7