Thursday, June 16, 2011

Let God do the math!

I have to admit that when I was a teenager, I was terrible at math. And as the yeas have gone by and I am now helping (and sometimes confusing) and child who is learning to do math, I realize that not much has changed, accept for one thing. I have the patience now to stay with it and to work until I understand. Patience was not my strong suit in my youth. Math teaches me that I have grown, even if I have not gotten it all yet.
The same goes for theology. There are things I know. I spent a lot of years studying theology. And because I have studied theology I have also had to learn to use the English language better and more effectively to communicate not only what I have read, but to communicate the Gospel to others as well as I can possibly do it. Maybe that is why I like a sentence in story of the great commission in Matthew’s Gospel. They worshipped, but some doubted. Even at the great and historic moment as Jesus is going back to the Father to take his place and position of authority in the kingdom, some of the disciples still don’t get “it”. They haven’t got all the theology worked out. They haven’t got the systematic understanding of how God is God, that God is one God and yet is three persons.

What they are told is to go and follow Jesus into the world – and the disciples are allowed to question things they see and hear. After all, how to we initial believe something if we are not allowed to work it out. Being bad at something doesn’t mean that you should stay home because you’re lousy at it. We are called to go and in the going to live and to make mistakes and to be Church wherever and whenever we find ourselves. Plus we are to recognize that we are looking for Jesus who said, who promised that he would be with us in the going and the doing and that we would see him there.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple once said that, “Church exists to bring into is membership those who do not yet belong to it.” Many good Christians fail to commend the faith that is within in them because they think they are bad at it, or worse, that it is solely the pastor’s job. The Church exists to be the community into which the world is drawn. The Church is about making disciples not decisions. I often sense that our beloved Anglicans feel guilt because they do not readily share their faith. Sundays like this one might even make more difficult because they are hearing that that have to share their faith and be “all that and a bag of chips and a bar” to someone. And there is often an accompanying sense of embarrassment to Anglicans because we have grown up thinking and being taught that faith is something deeply personal and tightly held. It is be guarded, shaded and or veiled; not revealed for everyone to see (…and criticize!).

The good thing about a Sunday like this is that we are not here to do the math or to learn some new idea of systematic theology, as much fun as I might have with that. We are here because we have been called into relationship with one another by God. God has revealed himself in Christ and we are called to witness to what has been done for us by God in the life and person of Christ. Ultimately we bear the name of the triune God – the God who lives and works in community. And we worship a God who, even when God was alone in the whole wide universe before the beginning of creation, is still in relationship. Trinity Sunday reminds us of that. That we were called to worship and drawn to witness to this God who desires us and that we reach out to draw one another in.

Maybe it is that God is poor at math too? God wants us to be one as God is one and that we in turn reach out with all the diversity of our gifts and talents to bring home all those whom he would call, as many as he will draw; just as God has done with us and is doing right now? Let us go too and in the going, make disciples. Let God worry about the math of it all.

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