The year 2021 figured large in my imagination as a child – it seemed so distant, watching cartoons on Saturday morning such as the Jetsons probably fuelled that imagination. I can still recall the wonder of watching space ships travel as automobiles and meals arriving on the table at the touch of a button – and truth be told, some of what was imagined in those Jetson cartoons has come to fruition. While we may not have Rosie the Robot, we do have Roomba and Sharks that will vacuum and mop our floors, talking alarm clocks, flat screen televisions and video chat, not to mention devices that can fit in the palm of our hands that serve as both entertainment and communication devices, and smart watches that do so much more than simply tell the time.
Maybe there is some truth to words of William Arthur Ward
If you can imagine it, you can create it. If you can dream it, you can become it.
I mentioned on Sunday, an article by Walter Bruggeman, Called to a Dangerous Oddness in which he reminds the reader of the three prophetic tasks: 1/ to be clear on the force and illegitimacy of the totalism; 2/ pronounce the truth about the force of the totalism that contradicts the purpose of God and 3/ articulate the alternative world that God has promised and that God is birthing before our very eyes. If we have eyes to see it.
Bruggeman then goes on to suggest that the work before us is that of new imagining that is grounded in new ecological perspectives, new ecumenism, economy and a multiculturalism, that “there is no more middle ground.”
Finally, I want to make a comment about the institutional church. The institutional church is a very weak instrument for the poetic imagination. But it is the best instrument we have—because when people come to church, they expect us to talk funny. They expect us to talk about God. We are now at a point when the church has got to recover its nerve, its energy, its courage, and its freedom.
To be about our proper business, the church cannot engage in prophetic imagination as long as it lives in the cocoon of the totalism. And that, of course, is where many clergy and the laity want the church to stay. Because you get rewards for that—you get money, payoffs, success. But our mandate and our vocation is otherwise.
I think the church now must be more vigorously engaged in scripture, after having been lazy for a very long time. And the church must do a much better job of social analysis than we have done, because very many church people think that social analysis feels like communism—and clearly the prophets were doing social analysis before anybody ever heard of Karl Marx.
The good news, that you can see all around now, is that the Spirit is moving among us. It is the Spirit of Jesus. And Jesus is that great voice of otherwise, who saw the contradictions of the gospel to the Roman Empire and who acted out an alternative.
I am excited by the imagining that the Executive of the Sackville United Church has been about over the past number of months and a look forward to their continued imaginings and the imagining of the whole Pastoral Charge as we move into 2021. May we embrace this time as a gift from the Creator and use it in ways that manifest love and hope in meaningful ways.
Happy New Year!
Today I am in the office getting caught up on emails and other administrative tasks after the holiday. I’ll be back here on Tuesday morning for the Preacher’s Help Group at 10:30AM and then off to Moncton for a couple of meetings with colleagues there.
On Wednesday I’ll be doing pastoral visits in the afternoon followed by a meeting in the evening with the Sackville United Church Executive. Thursday will see me working from home as I try to pull a liturgy and sermon together for Sunday.
Friday and Saturday will be days off and on Sunday I look forward to gathering with the folk at Upper Sackville United at 9AM and Sackville United and those participating via Facebook Live at 11AM.