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Thursday, January 11, 2007
Another late breaking Epiphany
I'm having an Epiphany. . . . and given that we are living in the days of the season of THE EPIPHANY that's an even better thing. You know what an epiphany is. . . . . . it's when you finally see what you've been looking at for so long. . . . . the breaking in of the hidden obvious.

This one has to do with the meaning of "to share one's faith." I have always seen this notion approached from a propositional perspective. In other words, to share one's faith means roughly to tell someone some important information about God or to tell them something that God has done for you. And I in no way want to diminish the importance of sharing important information about God. Certainly it is important.

But what if sharing one's faith has more of the feel of inviting someone into a meal or inviting someone on a trip with you? It's not so much about information as it is about inviting someone into a Life. Is the Christian Gospel a religious formula to communicate. . . . a plan to map out. . . . or a Divine Mystery to welcome others into? Is it all of the above?

Ben Witherington, in his sermon in chapel yesterday shared a media clip of Jesus' encounter with his disciples at Caesarea Phillipi when he asked them, "Who do you say that I am?" In response to Peter's historic confession, Jesus responded, "Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Abba in Heaven." Flesh and blood are not capable of revelation and yet we approach "sharing our faith" as though they were. At best we think of it as a two part deal-- we get out the information and God is responsible for confirming the truth of it. But isn't there something to be said about the mysterious radiance of the presence of Christ in a person as the secret of faith sharing. He invites persons to follow Himself through companionship with us. Our vocation consists in inviting people to come with us-- inside of our peculiar lives-- into the living, breathing Story of God--in which the mystery of Revelation can break forth into Epiphany.

Think of it like a movie. You saw a movie that changed your life and you can't stop talking about it. But just telling me about it isn't going to make me see it. In other words, for me to hear about what you saw won't get it done. Take me to the movie. Then the possibility exists for me to see what you saw. This is how I am thinking about the Christian Year. It's like a movie, an ongoing, epic narrative story unfolding before our very eyes. Only it's not flat on a screen. It's three dimensional and multi-sensory and radically communal. It's a completely immersive world. It's a living, breathing memory that beckons to be remembered through mystical reenactment, sharing a common life of peculiar practices and through the extravagant hospitality of welcoming others into this path of beholding and becoming, following after the God who was and is and is to come.

I know-- this is getting long. I'll stop here and work part 2 into the next post. What does this kind of faith sharing look like?
posted by John David Walt | at 1/11/2007 10:13:00 PM



Blogger eli said...

thanks for inviting us into your epiphany, jd. sharing our faith by information exchange only is like show and tell without the show.

11:43 PM EST  
Blogger Matt Purmort said...

JD It makes me think of Jesus' call to the disciples in John. The invitation was "come and see" I think that is a helpful model. Our sharing of faith should not just be sharing info, though that will certainly be part of it, but an invitation of "come and see".

9:30 AM EST  
Anonymous chad said...

hmmm these are good thoughts, I understand them but any sort of response needs some processing

12:31 PM EST  
Blogger JohnDeere said...

I guess my bigger question is how to create a relational context that fosters revelation---and not revelation as information exchange.

Here is how I increasingly think about preaching: How do I communicate in this setting such that I am participating with revelation in a way that epiphanies happen.

how can relationships be like that. what does that imply?

3:23 PM EST  
Blogger eli said...

invitation over distribution,

hospitality rather than differentiation,

engagment rather than enticement,

patience in place of pragmatism,

just a few thoughts, i can expound if you want but i don't want to be a bloghog

5:33 PM EST  
Blogger Amie Lou said...

These are all good thoughts. I've had the experience of putting too much stress on information.... thankfully this effort has helped move some very important people in my life closer to faith. Yet, information cannot do it all as you have illustrated. Faith is the leap - not the directions.

6:24 PM EST  
Anonymous chad said...

the people who have "preached" to me in the past that I think have accomplished in the way you are speaking off have usually tried to put these thoughts in our heads, but allowing us to get there themselves. I guess it was a style of "preaching" that was relational, not just someone in front lecturing. By us getting their ourselves we were allowed to have bingo moments. That allowed us to understand these things in our own context. I think that if we look at Christ teaching the disciples it looks somewhat like this.

1:50 AM EST  
Blogger pcates said...

Right on...being "broken over the broken" is an ongong thing in which we (i) must mixed together in our lives for the salt to be useful. If no mixing of lives, the salt stops being salt and we (i) die!


8:46 AM EST  
Blogger JohnDeere said...

pcates live on FARMStrong. red letter day.

pcates and i went to the monster jam truck ralley at rup p arena with our sons a week ago tonight. still recovering.

10:23 AM EST  

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