Teaching without a Preacher

Last Sunday we had our second gathering together. It was supposed to be a teaching/discussion/learning type of thing, but no one really wanted to hear some guy rabbit on up the front for half an hour…

So instead of that, we set up a room of “teaching stations” where people had to read bible verses, look at artwork, read topic starters, make things, writes things, ask questions, and engage their minds and hearts.

And then it was off to discuss what insites we had gained (and new questions we had found) while eating cheese and tomatoes on crackers. Ahhhh, a perfect way to finish the evening.

Here are the four instalations we used;

BODYPARTS

1 Corinthians 12:12-26

A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it…

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

Body

Look at the image of the body. Take your time. Study it. Marvel at it.

It’s complex.

It’s mysterious.

It’s beautiful.

Each tiny organ has an important function that keeps the rest of the body moving, living, and functioning – as it was designed too.

Paul uses this image as a way of describing what it means to be in the community of the Body of Christ together. In this community, each of us is a part of the body. Each of us is important in keeping the body healthy.

Some parts of the body seem more glamorous than others.

An eye seems better than a bile duct.
The heart seems better than the bowel.
The frontal lobe seems better than the toenail.

But together we all make up the one body. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together.

If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it not part of the body?

If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to poke it out and remove it from the body?

If the body was all Eye, how would it be able to hear? If all Ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

Think about how this keeps you from getting big headed. No matter how significant the part you play, it is only because of what you are a part of.

An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster.

A big toe, on it’s own, can achieve little. But if that big toe is attached to a foot, to a leg, to a torso, to a body – it would truly be alive.

WORTS AND ALL

Galatians 3:28-29

In Christ’s family there can be no division into

Jew and non-Jew,

slave and free,

male and female.

Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.

In Galatians Paul is saying something bold. Something that in our culture we take for granted in a lot of ways. But in his first century culture he was being a radical.

With faith in Christ, everyone is equal. Everyone is accepted.
Black. White. Brown
Man. Woman. Child.
Rich. Poor. Middleclass.

Everyone is accepted.

Christian community is a place where peoples’ faults are accepted whole-heartedly. Without reservation.
No gossiping over past mistakes.
No power games over peoples’ annoying personality glitches.

And guess what? It’s really, really hard.

The guts of it is, Christian community is about caring for people even though it’s hard.

And we’re not just talking about the people you like.

Real Christian community isn’t about just loving the people you like, or the even the people you can tolerate most of the time. It’s about caring about everyone. Even the person you really, really struggle with.

On the blank paper on the desk, write down in one word the thing about you that others in the community will most struggle with, the thing that will most undermine this community as it forms. No one is going to read this thing. Fold the paper and place it in the box.

You are accepted in this community with that fault.

Now on another blank piece of paper, write down the thing about you that others in the community will most love about you, the thing that will build up this community as it forms. Pin that piece of paper on the board in front of you, so everyone can see the strengths we have when we are together.

You are accepted in this community with that strength.

Whatever you bring to this community, you are accepted.

And likewise, you must accept what others bring to this community also.

CREATED FOR COMMUNITY

Genesis 1:26-28

God spoke:
“Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature. So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”

God created human beings;
He created them godlike, Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.

God blessed them:
“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”

In Genesis, the Creator say’s “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature.”

God. In Community with himself. Creating us.
The Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit. Creating us.
The Community of Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Creating us.

In this painting of the Trinity, we see a depiction of the three sitting at a table. God sitting at a table with himself seems like a strange thing. But a 5th Century Priest had a word for this continual community.

Pericoresis.

It’s a hard word to say. But translated it means, “The Dance of the Trinity”. God, dancing with himself, in a never-ending flow of love. This admittedly all sounds a bit weird.

We often think of a lofty God, sitting on clouds with a lightening bolt in one hand and a stone plaque in the other. Not a God that dances with himself. Doing the Rhumba or Waltz or Gay Gordon or Cha-Cha.

But maybe this idea of a dancing, plural God is a good way for us to approach our community. If God created us while He was in Community, is this saying that we were created to BE in community?

In Community with God.

In Community with each other.

It says that relationships matter, and that as people created in Gods image, we need each other. It encourages us as Gods people to build communities, not to run from them.

Look closely at the table where God is sitting as a community.

Do you notice that there is space at the table for one more person…

MESSY/ANNOYING/REALITY

Everyone says and thinks;

“All I want is a community I can belong too. A genuine community, where everyone is nice to me all the time, and no one ever fights.”

It’s time for a reality check.

Community together will be messy.

Look at the ball of wool. Unknitted, in all its glory. Different colours, going in different directions.

That ball is like our community. Each colour represents one of us. With our own opinions, desires and agendas.

Look at the quilt. Once upon a time that quilt was a messy ball of wool. But through Christ we can be knitted together to take shape and form. Each individual colour can still be seen in the quilt. It’s not as if the colours were knitted together into some homogonous grey colour. But instead of being separate and weak strands of wool doing their own thing, it is now one unit. It now has purpose. The diversity within its colours can still be seen. But it is also unified.

We are being knitted together.

Community together will be annoying and inconvenient.

Take a strand of wool from each of the three cut piles in front of you. Lay them together and tie one end. The colours represent the Trinity.

Green – Father and Creator
Red – Son and Redeemer
White – Spirit and Sustainer.

Plat the three pieces of wool together. This is a symbol of God working to knit our community together.

Thread the wooden bead that you swapped with another person onto the platted wool and tie it onto your wrist. This is a symbol of how a part of the community will be with each of us 24/7. Over the next week, whenever you see the bead, think of that person, and pray for them.

This bracelet symbolises the reality of community.
It will sometimes be unfashionable – clashing with your clothes, embarrassing to explain.
It will sometimes be annoying – clunking against your sink, getting caught on a door handle.
It will sometimes be uncomfortable – lumpy against your wrist, irritating your skin

But in the end it will be worth it.

Welcome to Community.

 

 

 

 

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2 Comments »

  1. […] Good, the Southern Baptists are debating the rise of complementarianism among many of its influential leaders. Here’s the second post of two in which you can witness the debate. 1. A Hoosier saint. 2. A blog about the Saturday night talk at IBC with some discussion. 3. Ted is resting. Good thoughts, Ted. 4. On the decline of houses in the USA of the married vs. unmarried: now below 50%. 5. Definitely emerging in kiwi land and in the UK. 6. John Frye has some innovative ideas about Psalm 23. 7. The good news for math teachers: making students happy and confident isn’t the point. 8. Do you know Wineskins? 9. What does it mean to be missional? Ask Erika Haub and David Fitch. And also I have to mention the fine work now at Biblical Seminary. There is no reason here to get into who’s doing it the best, but Biblical Seminary is entirely committed to the missional focus of seminary education. […]

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