Recently, Maclean's magazine reported on a disturbing data dump of government websites: statistics, economics, historic, scientific records deleted, burned, or tossed into data dumpsters. I could write an entire blog on the impact this will have for the future but I’ll leave it to Maclean's. Disappearing data results in a crisis in what Canadians know – and are allowed to know -- about themselves.
This kind of cultural identity genocide happened to the aboriginal peoples– again leaving too few Canadians to know much about the role of the aboriginal peoples' contribution to Canada. However, the aboriginals refused to give up their identity – and years later we now have the Truth and Reconciliation committee. Reconciliation is defined in this context as seeking to establish a mutually respectful relationship towards the reestablishment of a conciliatory state. Truth without action won't alter one step towards reconciliation so the Committee has put forth 94 recommendations towards the path to a conciliatory state and no doubt it will be disruptive.
The past does have a weight, whether good or bad, but at Redemption Church we don't seek to wipe it out.
Our identity is shaped as we make space for Jesus to transform our lives. The words redemption, reconciliation, and renewal are integral to our daily experience. Our church is a place where all participants are being renewed and are agents of reconciliation, all the time. We are not the saviors, but our primary purpose is to lead others – to the ONE who redeems.
Redemption, reconciliation, and renewal are the Bible's dominant storyline. Therefore they are (I'm borrowing from Pixar's Inside Out) three of our Islands of Personality. They define who we are as a people of God. The Bible relentlessly reveals the redemption of God's people, including the leaders of God's people.
Redemption today means, in part, to be bought back and brought back by a purchase price.
We are now set free to live the vision and values of Jesus as opposed to the values of individualism. The vision for Redemption church embraces Jesus but it also includes the why and how we hope to fulfill the mission of the gospel.
Part of our vision statement for Redemption Church includes virtues. The word and concept of virtue has undergone many changes over history but it has not been wiped out. In his book Learning the Virtues of God, R. Guardini gives this definition for virtue: It means that the motives, the powers, the actions, and the being of a person are gathered at any given time into a characteristic whole by a definitive honorable value. These virtues, like kindness, goodness, mercy, justice and others listed on our website – are also 'islands of personality' which shape our identity at Redemption Church.
Guardini notes, "One virtue that has suffered great damage is truthfulness, which taken into widest interpretation, includes the love of truth and the will that truth should be recognized and accepted."
"You shall know the truth and truth shall make you odd, " wrote Flannery O'Connor, paraphrasing Jesus's claims about truth-telling in John 8:32. The root meaning of the Greek word for truth is 'unconcealed or unveiled, or the state of affairs as disclosed.'
The truth offered by Jesus when unveiled is liberating, but living that truth will also create people who are out of step, unusual, and sometimes strange. Go ahead, add 'strange' to your personality traits.
Another island of our personality at Redemption is that we seek to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Although some of us may be mission-minded, or goal-oriented, the mission and goals of Redemption Church are to be led by the Holy Spirit – Lord we pray!
Regent theologian Gordon Fee writes: "when God's people receive the Spirit, it is not 'divine perfection' that sets in, but divine 'infection'; an infection that is to work its way into every bone and sinew, as it were." In the process, we may stumble and sin but hopefully our church people will be a place where redemption, reconciliation, and renewal are offered.
At Redemption we are committed to the sacraments of Baptism and Communion. Baptism, for us, represents an affiliation and incorporation of our identity with the identity of Christ. We are united with Christ in his death and resurrection, grafted into the vine of the Church and meant to be "clothed" in Christ. I'm currently reading 'Wearing God' by Lauren F. Winner – let me know if you want to talk more about what 'being clothed' implies.
We believe that the family that eats together stays together and therefore we participate in the Eucharist on Sunday mornings, as well as during the week with our Oikos groups. As we eat together, something happens that transcends our encounter with Christ and our encounter with each other.
Finally, by the end of 2015 we will have welcomed 22 babies into our church community over the past 2 years. Because those darlings become part of the dance floor on Sundays, I want to be a member that is committed to safe guarding the islands of personality that shape Redemption Church. I want these babies to grow up with a strong sense of who they are in Christ. What they will learn along the way, with God's help and ours, is that they are image-bearers of Jesus.
This is our truth; pray there be no need for reconciliation on that!
Deborah is an Elder at Redemption Church. She is the author of the novel 'Argonauta.' In her spare time she loves golfing with Glen – especially in Savannah Georgia.