Sunday, August 23, 2009

What will be my witness?

Bishop Hanson asked all those at the Churchwide Assembly "What will be your witness?" This week has been one of law and gospel, of brokenness and wholeness, of tears and laughter, of sadness and joy, of broken relationships and reconciliation. I know it will take a lot of processing to figure out what happened this week, and what it means to the Church and the world. But this week I experienced the Church of Jesus in an incredibly tangible way, as our "wish dream" of the church community (to use Bonhoeffer's term) was replaced with genuine community--through suffering to reconciliation, through death to resurrection, through Good Friday to Easter Morning. To quote Bonhoeffer in "Life Together":
Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.
[Here is a strange thing: when I searched for this quote, the first link on Google was a blog that had as its main image the very same image that has been hanging in the worship space at the assembly. Strange. Holy Spirit?]

So anyhow, the question is what will my witness be, and when I think of this word I can't help but think about the Book of Acts where "you are witnesses to these things" rings like a constant refrain. And again and again the disciples of Jesus encounter others, listen to them, and then tell their story, and Jesus' story, into the lives of those they encounter--even (and perhaps especially) when those people are in some way "other." And it is somehow in the listening and telling of these stories that the Holy Spirit uses the disciples to bring Good News to people who haven't experienced it before (or haven't experienced it for them anyway). Through stories hearts are transformed and community is created. So my witness, I think, is the stories I now bear of just what happened as the ELCA gathered to be that strange form of Church, the Churchwide Assembly. So I will tell my stories and from time to time post them as I come to reflect on them, and I imagine they will continue to bear meaning even as we journey away from the assembly.

1 comment:

  1. Bonhoeffer quote about the dream of community verse real community is excellent. Thanks