March 1-2, Cathedral Church of the Apostles, Columbia
The Rt. Reverend Todd Hunter, Retreat Leader
“The Intersection of Gospel and Culture
My take-away from his sharing with us:
Regardless of what un-ease we feel with the World and the Culture, we are safe in the Kingdom of God. This is a truth and a reality to be claimed by all Christians. As Scripture says, “We are in the world but not of the world.” But the challenge for the Church remains- How do we build bridges to the Culture in our time.
Bishop Hunter drew our attention to the fact that Jesus was as comfortable in Levi’s home, a tax collector and sinner, as he was in the Synagogue. We need to be also. We are not called to condemn the world but love it, calling the world home to the Kingdom of God.
There are, however, huge changes in contemporary culture in the other direction. We are called to not resist or hold back from the Culture because of it; we are called to embrace the culture on its terms. The metaphor Bishop Hunter used was fishing- We catch fish on the fish’s terms- their time of day, location, when they are hungry, etc.
We need to be a “non-anxious” presence in the culture, not reeling at the extremes our Culture seems to be taking on, but staying connected, loving people right where they are, fully differentiated (to use the language of Rabbi Friedman and Family Systems Theory), yet fully connected and engaged.
Bishop Hunter quoted from Eugene’s Peterson’s biblical paraphrase,The Message, of 1 Corinthians 9:19-23: “Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life.”
The clergy of our diocese gathered at the Church of the Apostles (note our very own Fr. Theophilus in the left foreground)