Max Lucado has a great way of describing this powerful aspect of congregational life. Let's take dealing with a tough question:
- Questions can make hermits out of us, driving us into hiding. Yet the cave has no answers. Christ distributes courage through community; he dissipates doubts through fellowship. He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many. When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries, when we mix, mingle, confess, and pray, Christ speaks.
Considering the opening chapter of the First Letter of John, we can discern a teaching that stands against something the churches have been hearing. It concerns the subject of sin. This dispute, like others with which we're familiar - most notably Paul's bitter spat with Peter detailed in Galatians - gets worked out in the fellowship of the light. Seeking to be in the light, in the way of Christ, is up to the community to figure out. Gathered in authentic faithfulness, that's where Christ speaks.
A term that has been helpful for me is moral imagination. As we wrestle with new understandings, we find that we are challenged to expand our moral imagination to the full breadth and depth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In recent centuries, this expansion of moral imagination has been challenged by issues of slavery, race, gender, and now the LGBT community in relationship to the fellowship of the light.
Things aren't always the way we've made them out to be. In our other reading from Acts 4, we consider the earliest Jerusalem church's community of shared goods. They made this a key feature in their witness to the good news. It reminds us that, despite the condemnations of the wealthy throughout the Bible, we would never think to consider wealth and sin together.
The church should always be challenged, having the boundaries of its moral imagination pushed and stretched so that it can embrace the full scope of the good news, and give faithful witness to the Lord's kingdom of grace, justice, and peace.
Check out the full sermon video below, and get the downloads below the video panel.