Tuesday, June 09, 2015

A Thought for Tuesday 9 June 2015

“The primary task of Christian ethics involves an attempt to help us see.  For we can only act within the world we can see, and we can only see the world rightly by being trained to see.  We do not come to see just by looking, but by disciplined skills developed through initiation into a narrative.”  Stanley Hauerwas

The whole idea is to try and understand exactly what is the Christian narrative into which we have been initiated through baptism and confirmation.  It is not enough to merely identify oneself as a Christian and let it go at that.  There must be more, but it is the “more” that escapes most of us or intimidates all of us.

Is Christianity identified by a creed or a set of ideas (doctrine)?  Or is Christianity better defined by a way of life?  If it is the former, the ideas we are more likely to embrace are “sold” to us by dynamic and charismatic preachers – especially those who make this “initiation” so easy – AND if that initiation fits into our own narrative.  If it is the latter, then the “way of life” is defined from the very start.  Our infants are baptized into the Covenant, and from that moment begins the narrative leading to confirmation and discipleship.  Even if a particular tradition or individual idea does not accept infant baptism, the initiation must take place soon and deliberately within the existing narrative.  The narrative will not reveal itself to one not initiated or invited into that narrative.  This narrative also will make no sense to those not so initiated if the narrative does not exist in the life of a self-professed Christian.

The narrative need not be confusing, but the narrative must be lived.  And make no mistake: the narrative does not begin with Matthew; it begins in Genesis!  Jesus did not create a new narrative; He lived within the divinely appointed narrative.  And in so living that narrative, Jesus invites us into that story.  He does not encourage us to find our own narrative; in fact He prohibits it (“Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction”, Matthew 7:13).  The “narrow gate” is the existing narrative; the “wide gate” is the narrative many create for themselves.

It is very unlikely we humans will ever settle any matters under the sun, for the narrative goes until the Day of The Lord.  Remember, it is HIS narrative – and it is the narrative that brings Life beyond our own.  Let the Church rediscover this narrative, and so order its life and mission accordingly.



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