Faith Beyond Empire: Lessons from the Apostle Paul – Dr. Harry O. Maier

September 24, 2013

Dr. Harry O. Maier



September 24 2013

Christianity took form in the Roman Empire and as a consequence its foundational texts bear the imprint of its imperial location. This lecture takes up Paul to consider the ways in which Paul responded to his imperial location and how his letters used images and language to live faith at once within and beyond Empire. His letters form an indispensable backdrop to consider our own responses to our own international order and how faith invites courageously to live amidst the challenges of our day.

Dr. Harry O. Maier is Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Studies at Vancouver School of Theology

Mark Harris:

  • Those of us with grey hair grew up in a time of Christian hegemony: said Lord’s Prayer (and Pledge of Allegiance in USA!) in school.
    • Now we ask “What does it mean to be Christian living in multi-faith, multi-centric environment?”

Dr. Maier:

  • There has been a recent development seeing Paul as an opponent to the Roman empire.
    • He will contest and problematize that idea!
  • Will be considering faith beyond empire in the literal sense.
    • Paul uses language, vocabulary, metaphor of Roman empire, yet inverts common usage of Roman empire.
    • Location of Paul’s churches is logical and has meaning for us


  • Hardt and Negri: Empire
    • chief capitalizing force of global empire
    • New Testament interpretation:
      • Fernando Segovia: Biblical Criticism and Postcolonial Studies
        • critical, responsible biblical study always takes into account the “reality of empire” a sociopolitical reality
  • Richard Horsley: Paul and Empire
    • “Christianity was the product of empire” page 1

How Did We Get to Paul and Empire?


  • Romans 7:14-20 The Law is good… if I do what I do not want, no longer I, but sin that dwells within me
  • incapacity of the will to keep commandments of God
  • Augustine vs Pelagius


  • Romans 3.21-24 Irrespective of the law … justified by grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
  • same tradition or trajectory as Augustine
  • in this way Paul was interpreted through 20th Century

Krister Stendahl:

  • The Post-Holocaust Paul
  • Paul Among Jews and Gentiles
  • Romans 11.1 Has God rejected his people? By no means.
  • Paul not a proto-Luther!
  • need re-orient New Testament study of Paul away from Augustinian-Luther outlook of how can a sinful person stand before a righteous God, to can a Gentile be saved.
    • that is, Paul’s main question was not existential, how can an individual find salvation, but can a Gentile join in the covenant with Israel
  • Stendahl was among the most important contributions to New Testament study in 20th C
  • note that Roman Empire also had a claim to wed diverse peoples into one large commonwealth!
    • Dieter Jorgee (sp?) and Klause Wengst did work in this area, that is: Paul, Jews and Gentiles, and the Roman Empire
    • 1993 first Gulf War gave impetus to this work


  • Richard Horsley, Robert Jewett, John Dominic Crossan
  • Rom 1.18 gospel is power of God for salvation for everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek….
  • gospel as political term: εὐάγγελος (Greek euangelos: Good News) is imperial term for good and divinely appointed reign of Caesar
    • birth of emperor Augustus: beginning of good news, saviour born
      • mirrors announcement of angels to shepherds, but Luke took this from announcement of Augustus not vice versa
      • Paul: power of God for good news is not Caesar, but Jesus
      • therefore an assault on empire according to Jewett
      • Paul’s gospel formulated against claims of Roman empire

Summary of the View that Paul Wrote Against Roman Empire

Paul’s gospel:

  • political in orientation
  • exposed violence of Roman rule
  • opposed the imperial cult
  • suffered persecution for its anti-Roman stance
    • wrote about Roman empire in code even when not obvious
  • assaulted Rome with a counter-imperial worship of God
  • Pax Romana = Pax Americana: used to support Bush’s pre-emptive strike

Paul’s gospel has socio-political consequences, not just spiritual



  • Paul’s message was that God is God of Jews and Gentiles, indeed of all nations
    • so Paul needs a vocabulary to make those claims persuasive
    • Therefore Paul draws draw upon Old Testament Isaiah AND Roman Empire (monuments, coinage, etc.)
  • Paul’s letters are filled with political language to express the universal claims of gospel
    • Universal claim: Romans 3.28-30 God is God of Gentiles also
    • Romans 1.1-6 to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles
    • not Paul, but bears Pauline vision: Colossians 1.5-6 gospel … bearing fruit and growing in whole world
  • Pauline message echoes Roman imperial ideology
    • charter for imperial world-wide rule: Virgil’s Aeneid 1.254-69 And call by his own name his people Romans. For these I set no limits, world or time, But make a gift of empire without end…. Lords of the world, the toga-bearing Romans…. impose the rule of law ….
    • Roman imperial visual language was for the illiterate majority!
      • visual culture: coins, temples, reliefs (art), sculptures and statues
      • imperial images were present everywhere to acclaim the right of Rome to rule the world and the benefits of Rome’s rule
      • this was called the Gospel, the “Good News” of Rome’s rule! Caesar was God’s emissary on earth
  • When Paul uses Roman imperial language to speak of God’s rule and the benefits of God’s rule, he does so because it’s understandable and already in place, and uses it to speak about God’s claim.
    • But using Roman imperial language was also an assault on Roman empire: Jesus of Nazareth is victim of the Roman empire
      • Paul’s message is that God is the means by which is accomplished that which Rome claims to accomplish.

Political Words in Paul as Means of Universal Proclamation

(These words are also found in the Hebrew Bible and in the vocabulary other Empires – Babylonian and Persian for example)

  • Gospel
  • Church (gathering; in Greek, ἐκκλησία )
  • Saviour (a general given power)
  • Salvation
  • Peace
  • Citizenship
  • Victory
  • Son of God
  • Lord
  • Slave
  • Obedience
  • Body (of Christ)

Paul uses Imperial Language but Inverts It

  • 2 Cor 2.14-16 God leads us in triumphal procession and through us spreads peace in every place the fragrance that comes through knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ; … a fragrance of life to life.
  • boast of weaknesses, for in them being made perfect
  • visualization of triumphal procession, but locates himself as a captive in that procession, as slave!
    • an upside-down triumph
    • not a glorious emperor, a captive being led in triumphal procession
    • conquered in Christ
    • accomplished by Christ’s dying, not by slaying
      • not an assault of violence as in empire: a faith beyond empire
  • Col 2:13-16 dead in trespasses, God made you alive…. disarmed rulers and authorities God made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it
  • NRSV, but could “being stripped, disarmed, i.e. in crucifixion, Jesus made a bold display of the rulers and authorities, Jesus made a bold display of the leaders, triumphing over them through the cross
    • 2 things that don’t belong together being put together
  • 1 Cor 15.54-56 death, where is your victory, sting; … thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ


Homi Babha, Edward Soja, Michel Foucault

  • Is Paul For, Against, Entangled, or Beyond, Empire? YES!
    • Paul is not simply for or against empire.
    • Complicated entanglements.

Homi Babha

  • The Location of Culture. Routledge 1994
  • Colonizer, the British, and the colonized, India and relationships formed in the interaction
  • Mimicry: imitation by the colonized of the colonizer’s culture, but never perfectly done
    • becomes a mode of destabilization!
  • Hybridity: fusion of colonized identity
    • in Canada: 1st Nations Peoples stripped of Identity (language, hair, clothes), taught English, resocialized, but nevertheless retain hybridity.
    • though look like Canadians, do retain 1st Nations identities, through accents when speak English, live on Reservations, don’t have equal access to voting, economics
      • a hybrid identity
    • Colonizer’s interest to ensure hybridity remains!
      • but destabilizes the colonizers.
  • Transposition: when a colonized culture adopts values, slogans, etc of colonizing culture, but makes them ones own
    • Paul uses language of Roman culture, but transposes them so come to mean radically new things that were not intended by the original

Michel Foucault

Of Other Spaces” Diacritics 16 (1986): 22-27

  • Heterotopia
    • the local worshipping congregation
      • Literally “other place”
      • real places, counter-sites, effectively enacted eutopia, in which reality is represented, contested, and inverted. page 24
        • eucharistic celebration! in, with, and under
        • was eutopian when had emperor’s ear, now an “other” hetero-topia
          • need figure out how we express and practise in world now in different setting

Edward Soja

Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996.

  • Firstspace: physical coordinates of world in which we find ourselves; =empirical world
  • Secondspace: conventional orientation of the world = a building used as a lecture hall
  • Thirdspace: First space and Second space are used in ways dramatically different than ways creators intended; the innovative practises of place
    • eg. highway overpasses become homes for homeless
    • “an-Other [sic] way of understanding and acting to change the spatiality of human life”
    • we practise place and space and time in new ways
      • that’s what the church is to be about!
    • that’s what Paul was working toward!
      • uses language and space of Empire, but divests it of violence, replacing it with practise of love

Christianity is product of Empire, but mimics, revises, hybridizes and transposes it

  • Philippians 2.6-11 Have the same mind in you that is [not “was” which implies “imitate”, “is” speaks of new location, domain, dominion, rule, geographical sense] in Christ Jesus….
    • invitation to a third space in which Christ’s giving himself up becomes the space of common Christian practise
    • “in name of Jesus every knee should bend, confess Jesus Christ is Lord ….”
      • imperial designation!
      • acclamation of God not through violence, but through Christ’s self-emptying

Church as Heterotopia of Kenosis: Faith beyond Empire

  • 1 Cor 12:14-16 ear can’t say to eye “I have no need of you” … those members of body less honourable we clothe with greater honour … that there be no dissension … same care for one another
    • body politic: all participate with equals
    • not a call to equality, not that all are equality
      • it’s an inverted hierarchy; not some brought up and some brought down
      • it’s a turning upside down; a new way of practising and imaging social life and togetherness
      • a privileged position for the weak, less powerful: faith beyond empire


Harold R.

  • heterotopia at St. Marks’ Kitchener
    • 12 steps groups etc, a group every night
    • a Toronto doctor examines refugees two nights a week
  • In Calgary, the nave becomes a place for people to sleep in Out of the Cold

Phil H.

  • mainline denominations have successfully addressed inequities in society
    • i.e. mainline denomination have been addressing heterotopia
  • Dr. Meier: Tommy Douglas etc. had theological vision, eutopian
    • once a society becomes a social democracy some sense that churches have worked themselves out of a job; Christianity has become secular, having made secular culture more humane
    • but now humane aspects of culture crumbling, so new need for Christian witness
    • Evangelicals developing social conscience: they see this role now too.

Book Review: Jesus for the Non-Religious by John Shelby Spong

October 17, 2011

John Shelby Spong: Jesus for the Non-Religious

HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., 2007

John Shelby Spong was the Episcopal [Anglican] Bishop of Newark before his retirement in 2000. As a visiting lecturer at Harvard and at universities and churches throughout North America and the English-speaking world, he is one of the leading spokespersons for liberal Christianity.1

Christians have known for a long time that each of the gospel writers reworked the stories of Jesus to paint a portrait which met the needs and questions of each writer’s specific audience. What Bishop Spong does is to hypothesize that the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) set their stories about Jesus to be read along with the Jewish synagogue year-long series of readings:

People have long noted that Mark, Matthew and Luke all treat the public ministry of Jesus as being of one year in duration, while John says it lasted three years. We now see that this one year was not the length of Jesus’ public career, but the length of the Jewish liturgical year to which the stories of the life of Jesus have been attached. 2

For example, Bishop Spong notes that the events of what we now call “Holy Week” could not have taken place in the Spring, as set in the gospels. Bishop Spong postulates that Holy Week originally occurred in the fall, but was set by the Gospel writers to coincide with the spring festival of Passover. In changing the setting, the gospel writers were trying to understand the death of Jesus as a new kind of Passover – a deliverance from bondage, and a journey from death to life:

The story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, celebrated by Christians today as “Palm Sunday,” was said, at least by Mark, Matthew and Luke, to have occurred a week earlier [than Passover, which takes place in late March or early April], which would place it as early as mid-March. The problem this dating reveals is that there was little chance that there would have been leafy branches in that part of the Middle East so early in spring….

Matthew, writing some ten years after Mark, comes to [Mark’s] reference to leafy branches and drops the world “leafy” from his text…. Luke, writing still later, … omits both Mark’s leafy branches and Matthew’s bare branches, relating only the account of the people laying down their garments in the path of the procession….

John’s gospel … solved the leafy branch problem by saying that the crowd waved “branches of palm trees’ – that is, the leaves of an evergreen tree (John 12:13). Most people are not aware that the branches carried in this procession did not become palm leaves until the last canonical gospel to be written, since we now call the day Palm Sunday and mark it with the carrying of palms in procession. 3

Bishop Spong concludes:

the original context of both the triumphal procession into Jerusalem and the fig tree story [Mark 11] were in a different time of the year, when branches have leaves and when fig trees produce figs….

That possibility is encouraged when we look at the Jewish eight-day fall celebration of the harvest, known as Sukkoth, also called the Festival of Tabernacles or Booths…. In the observance of Sukkoth, worshippers processed through Jerusalem and in the temple, waving in their right hands something called alulab, which was a bunch of leafy branches made of willow, myrtle and palm. As they waved these branches in that procession, the worshippers recited words from Psalm 118, the psalm normally used at Sukkoth. Among those words were “Save us, we beseech you, O Lord.” “Save us” in Hebrew ishosiannaorhosanna. That phrasing was typically followed with the words “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Ps. 118:25, 26, NRSV). One immediately recognizes that these Sukkoth traditions have been shifted from the fall to the season of the Passover and have been adapted to the Palm Sunday story, to meet the interpretive needs of the gospel. 4

Bishop Spong believes that although Jesus was killed by crucifixion, much of the narrative of the cross is not the “remembered history of eyewitness observers”; rather, the narrative of the cross is

liturgical drama, created well after the fact and designed not to describe actual events but rather to help worshippers understand who Jesus was and why his death had a special meaning. 5

In the same way, the miracle stories, which according to Bishop Spong are often Old Testament stories set into Jesus’ ministry, are be read for their meaning, not for their historical accuracy:

Miracles in the New Testament are, time after time, simply a literary device to enable the gospel authors to talk about the in-breaking kingdom that is available to those who have eyes to see…. Miracles represented the only way first-century Jewish people could stretch human language sufficiently to allow them to communicate what they believed they had encountered in Jesus….

[Jesus] neither was nor is a miracle worker. He did not walk on water, heal the sick, or raise the dead. 6

Bishop Spong concludes:

The gospels need to be read for what they are. They are not the chronicles of a remembered history, but the proclamations of a community of faith designed to say that the yearned-for kingdom of God has dawned in Jesus. 7

In addition to understanding Jesus as the new passover, the early Christians saw Jesus through other images from the Hebrew scriptures such as Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), in which a lamb is sacrificed, and a “scape goat” takes away the sins of the people. Jesus was also understood through the Jewish term “son of man” which was originally a synonym for mortal, but later came to refer to a supernatural messianic judge who would inaugurate the kingdom of God. The vicarious pain of the “suffering servant” from Isaiah helped the early Christians to understand the deep strength in Jesus’ weakness and powerlessness. The “shepherd king” from Zechariah ridded the temple of traders, and was sold for 30 pieces of silver – another story which became attached to Jesus. Noting these parallels, Spong writes:

It is hard to imagine or to recognize, given two thousand years of literalism, just how little the gospel writers were concerned about historical accuracy [which is a modern concept]. They passionately wanted to interpret the experience they had had with Jesus and so, without apology or qualms of conscience, they told their stories with references out of the Hebrew scriptures and heightened the tales of heroic figures from the Jewish past when they applied them to Jesus. 8

Once Bishop Spong has made his case that the stories of Jesus were mostly interpretive accounts rather than historical recollections, Bishop Spong is free to take a new look at the stories, asking what they were intended to say about Jesus:

My task is not to respirate artificially the symbols of yesterday. They are, in my opinion, neither worthy nor capable of respiration. My task is to enter the experience that gave birth to these now dated and dying symbols and then to find words appropriate to my worldview to convey the power of the Jesus experience. 9

This reworking of the biblical images is done in the final chapters of the book as Bishop Spong looks at Jesus as “The Breaker of Tribal Boundaries,” “The Breaker of Prejudices and Stereotypes,” and “The Breaker of Religious Boundaries.” Bishop Spong understands the divinity of Jesus as arising from the fullness and depth of Jesus’ humanity:

Jesus is what God is, because in the fullness of Jesus’ humanity we can experience what it means to live beyond the barriers of our evolutionary past and soar into a humanity that is spirit-filled, open to the source of life and love and what Paul Tillich called, as his name for God, the “ground of being.” 10

Bishop Spong understands Jesus to be an incarnation of what it means to be fully human:

Jesus acted out of his whole and free humanity, revealing a life not bound by human survival needs, unwilling to participate in the security-building prejudices that enhance one by diminishing another…. There is salvation, I believe, in the fully human Jesus who reveals what human life can be, an existence free of tribal boundaries, free of prejudice, free of sexism and free of fear. 11

In the final chapter, Bishop Spong reworks the symbol of the cross from “a sign of the theistic deity’s sadistic nature, which required the sacrifice of the son to pay the price of sin.” 12

The traditional way we tell the Christ story makes an ogre out of God, a victim out of Jesus and angry people who must be eternally grateful and thus helplessly dependent out of us. That cannot ever be the “good news” of the gospel, nor can it be an expression of the love of God. 13

In place of the traditional understanding of the cross, Bishop Spong paints the cross as a “ Portrait of the Love of God”:

He was betrayed but he loved the betrayer. He was forsaken but he loved those who forsook him. His arrest was challenged but he demanded that his defenders put up their swords. He was falsely accused but he was silent in the face of his accusers. There was nothing defensive about him. Even when he was mocked and tormented, he loved his mockers and tormentors. He was scourged and he loved his scourgers. He was denied and he loved his denier. He was crucified and he loved his killers. Hostility and rejection, abuse and death – these did not diminish his humanity.

This is a portrait of a fully human one who has no need to hate or to hurt… a whole person, one who possessed his life so fully that he could give it away. 14

Bishop Spong closes the book with these words:

The call of God through Jesus is a call to be fully human, to embrace insecurity without building protective fences, to accept the absence of peace of mind as a requirement of humanity…. This is surely what the author of the Fourth Gospel meant when he quoted Jesus as proclaiming that his purpose was “that they might have life and have it abundantly” (10:10). 15

1From the back cover

2Spong, page 204.

3Spong, pages 151 to 153.

4Spong, page 153.

5Spong. page 100. See also page 193: “the gospels are interpretive pieces of literature, not literal records of what actually happened”

6Spong, pages 94-95.

7Spong, page 84.

8Spong, page 193.

9Spong, page 285.

10Spong, page 263

11Spong, pages 262- 263.

12Spong, page 284.

13Spong, page 236

14Spong, page 288.

15Spong, Page 290.

Computer Tech-Support Site

July 5, 2009
In addition to reading, I love learning about computers. There’s a website which offers other-than-the-usual suggestions: click here

Actually on VisionTV

April 2, 2009


The shows under my last post:

TVO (TV Ontario) March-April 2009

March 28, 2009

Some Upcoming Interesting Shows on TVO (TV Ontario)

are actually on Vision TV !

My apologies!

TVO (TV Ontario) March-April 2009

March 28, 2009

Some Upcoming Interesting Shows on TVO (TV Ontario)

Note that the first two entries provide differing opinions on the same topic.

Wednesday, April 1

The Pagan Christ ** VISIONTV PREMIERE **
The Pagan Christ
9 pm ET / 6 pm PT

What if it could be proven that Jesus Christ never existed? That’s the startling premise of Tom Harpur’s controversial bestseller The Pagan Christ. Harpur, Canada’s best-known spiritual writer and broadcaster, concludes that Jesus never lived, that the Gospels of the New Testament are based on Egyptian mythology rather than historical fact, and that the text was meant to be read allegorically. This award-winning 2007 documentary from filmmaker David Brady explores Harpur’s arguments in detail, and offers a new and challenging way of understanding Scripture.

One Comment from PS:

Could the stunning similarities (assuming that they are stunning the book is still waiting for me to read on my desk!) be explained by Jesus New Testament comment that he has “other sheep”? Could it be that the Christ has been revealed in different times and places throughout history, but in similar ways??

Thursday, April 2

Unmasking the Pagan Christ ** WORLD PREMIERE **
Unmasking the Pagan Christ – 9 pm ET / 6 pm PT
Award-winning filmmaker David Brady revisits the Pagan Christ controversy in this new hour-long documentary. Canadian New Testament scholars Stanley E. Porter and Stephen J. Bedard, authors of the 2006 book Unmasking the Pagan Christ, challenge author Tom Harpur’s claim that the Gospels are rooted in ancient mythology. Drawing upon research of their own, they argue passionately for the existence of a historical Jesus.

Friday April 10:

Jesus: The Lost Years Faith Programming: Jesus: The Lost Years11 pm ET / 8 pm PT
The New Testament reveals little about the early years that Jesus spent in Egypt. This inspirational documentary, based on a book by Paul Perry, draws upon oral histories, archaeological evidence and writings found in Christian churches in Egypt in an effort to reconstruct these missing years.

January 17, 2009

Friday January 16 2009

The Evangelizing Church: A Lutheran Contribution

Editors Richard H. Bliese, Craig Van Gelder

2005 Augsburg Fortress

I’ve just started reading this book, and I sure hope it answers what it has identified as the “driving question”:

What are key Lutheran perspectives that help create an evangelizing church in our context?

Looking forward to further reading ….

In Mission for Others: Training Event 2, November 2008

November 2, 2008

In Mission for Others, Training Event #2

Saturday Nov 1 2008, St Peter Lutheran Church, Cambridge

On this day, four of us from our “In Mission for Others Team” attended a day-long training event offered by our Synod’s In Mission for Others team. It was attended by about 12 congregations.

The day was divided into two sections:

Part One: Reflections on “A Renewed Vision for Mission in the Eastern Synod, 2006-2010

Given by the following Eastern Synod Ministry Directors:

Part Two: Six Practices for a Renewable Life





Six Mission Priorities:

  1. We will strive to be a synod that is passionate about our relationship with God in Christ.
  2. We will strive to be a synod that nurtures leaders who encourage and equip other leaders.
  3. We will strive to be a synod that works in partnership with others.
  4. We will strive to be a synod that reflects the diversity of our society.
  5. We will strive to be a synod that is generous.
  6. We will strive to be a synod that is engaged by challenging questions.

Each of our Synod’s Ministry Directors present at the event was given an opportunity to reflect on the “Six Mission Priorities” in light of that director’s ministry area. (The following Directors who live at greater distances were not able to attend the event:

  • Joel Crouse, Youth and Young Adult Ministries
  • Lori Pilatzke, Witness and Evangelism Ministries
  • Beth Wagshall, Ecumenical and Multi-Faith Ministries
  • Jeff Pym, Stewardship and Resource Development)

Ministry Director Phil Heinze, Director of Public Policy and Service Ministries

  • When we affirm our faith, we promise to have a public faith
  • We are called to wear our hearts on our sleeves, to share the ministries about which we’re passionate.
    • This gives permission to others to engage their ministry passions.
  • We are called to share leadership.
    • We all have a ministry.
  • We are called to work in partnership.
    • Ecumenical coalitions such as KAIROS, Lutheran World Federation via ACT is always on the ground when he’ll is needed.
  • We are called to reflect the diversity of society.
    • To be welcoming to those who are different from us.
  • We are called to be generous.
    • NIMBY: Not In My Backyard expressed in our hesitance to bring forward needs of wider church and community groups such as United Way.
    • Yet the more generous congregations are toward others, the more is given also for ourselves. This has been proven time and time again.
  • We are called to engage challenging questions.
    • Talk about things people are uncertain about, such as myths regarding aboriginal peoples.
      • Canada and USA failed to sign the Aboriginal Rights agreement of United Nations. Never before have we failed do so. We are afraid of aboriginals being given \an opportunity to exercise their rights.

Ministry Director Jackie Nunns, Director of Learning Ministries

  • 2 important foci:
    • Encourage people of all ages to continue learning
    • Equip all of us to be disciples
      • Discipleship is more than worship and financial contribution
      • Discipleship is a continual learning, serving, and sharing the good news
  • How do we change the culture of the church and help us understand discipleship more fully?
    • We can raise up, honour, recognize, support and equip the ministries our members are already doing in the community outside the church building.
      • Then we can better hear the challenging questions people face and bring faith to bear on them
    • We can help people open up Scripture in a new way.
      • Scripture as a life-giving faith source.
    • We can challenge congregational leaders to be stewards, not only of the physical building, but also as stewards of the gifts that each member is blessed with.
  • What keeps our people from doing these things?
    • We need be pointed in the right direction.
    • We need believe that we actually can understand and “get” Scripture.
      • We need to overcome the belief that we don’t know enough background to delve into Scripture.
      • We need to be given permission to not understand Scripture: we’re all in that boat.
      • Need be given permission to just listen in any discussion, so won’t be afraid of showing ignorance (we’re all ignorant!).
    • Need help fostering and nurturing small groups.
    • We can encourage older members to continue their involvement rather than stepping back. We need them!

Ministry Director Debbie Lou Ludolph, Director of Worship Ministries

  • Does our worship reflect and embody our passion about being In Mission for Others?
  • Texts of worship liturgy and hymns are passionate about our relationship with God
  • Worship is contextualized in the congregational context.
  • How do we encourage and equip worship leaders?
  • Are there other partners to involve in worship?
  • Does our worship reflect the diversity of society so all (ages, physical ability, singers) feel welcome, and feel part of the community?
  • How does the way we do worship nurture a spirit of gratitude that spills out into community involvement and generous support of ministry?
  • How are we engaged in the challenging questions of our time?
    • Do aboriginal rights, election issues show up in worship?
    • Challenging Questions around worship for St Paul’s:
      • How is our worship experience missing the needs of 20 and 30 year olds? How do we discern this without having that age present?
      • We sing and hear, but what do we do with it? Can we become more than robots in worship, who just go through the process?
        • Could use more focus on who and why we worship (suggested by several other congregational groups).
  • Is our worship experience ever new in understanding God’s ever-new mercies?
  • Worship teaches us how to be differently-oriented to the world



Matthew 4.12-22 Jesus moves to Napthali and Calls Disciples

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,

on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—

the people who sat in darkness

have seen a great light,

and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death

light has dawned.”

From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Ketchup Skit: Condiments around the world reach out In Mission for Others.

  • Priesthood of all believers who feel the presence of God, and bring flavour to the world
  • Nourished and challenged by those who are different.
  • Feeding the hungry, working in relationship with others.
  • Sharing who we are, and our purpose: challenging questions.
  • Seeing challenges and difficulties as gifts reminding us of God’s loving presence.
  • Planting, tendering, and nurturing seeds into strong leaders who equip other leaders, understanding that God provides all that is needed.
  • Growing and spreading the Good News with generosity and enthusiasm.

A New Vision for a Renewable Church (Tana Kjos)

  • As Easter people, stuff dies so there is room for new life
  • God promises great abundance
  • God comes down to love us and set us free to serve our neighbours
    • God comes to us and through us
    • God is on a mission and God’s Mission has a church
  • Six Renewable Practices shape the way we see and do everything:

1. Asking purposeful Questions,

2. Using Participative Processes,

3. Working Playfully,

4. Taking Place (Context) Seriously,

5. Being (Re)Productive (not just talking something to death),

6. Seeing Possibilities

  • Goal is to:
    • Discover
    • Decide
    • Do
    • Debrief

We’re free to fail, knowing that God will pick us up again


1. Asking Purposeful Questions

  • Things change too quickly for us to be experts
  • Asking purposeful questions:
    • was standard operating procedure for Luther and Jesus
    • drives us to Scripture
    • ensures we seek God’s agenda
    • Helps us check out with others what we think we hear God saying
  • The most purposeful questions of all:
    • What’s God up to?
    • And how can I help?
  • Whenever Jesus was in Temple, he was criticizing!
    • So it’s very dangerous to seek God’s voice when we’re part of the religious establishment!
  • Need to reclaim our sense of vocational call:
    • Recognizing that we serve God as a member of our congregation through our community involvements
  • What does it mean to be (insert purpose statement here, eg “In Mission for Others”) in worship, learning, etc.?
    • See Part 1 above, in which some of our Ministry Directors have done this for us.
  • Exercise:
    • Small group asks meet with Council because kids are using the church parking lot for skateboarding. Surely they say, this is a liability, and besides, they leave a lot of garbage behind. This small group wants Council to post “No Loitering” signs and ask police to enforce the signs.
    • What purposeful questions could we ask?
  • Go back to Gospel Reading Matthew 4.12-22 and ask:
    • What do you hear God saying to you personally? (Group responses follow:)
      • Be free and move to a new way
      • Share your light
      • Ministry is like fishing: a dirty job and you get into others’ insides
      • Complexity of call: sons of Zebedee still likely looked after their Father
      • Complexity of call: who are the fish and who are the fishers?
      • “Fishers” and “Fished” Groups aren’t mutually exclusive
      • “No” isn’t an option: I will make you fish for people
    • What do you hear God saying to us as a church?
      • Instead of being a family church, we should be a church family
    • What are you hearing God call us to DO about it?

2. Using Participative Processes

  • Doesn’t mean giving everyone a vote all the time
  • Can be unhelpful in a crisis
  • Doesn’t work well without a clear sense of purpose
  • Is really helpful when need maximum buy-in or great creativity

Steps in the Participative Process

  1. Pray
  2. Brainstorm
  • Include every idea
  • No evaluation of remarks
  • Build on each others’ ideas
  • Encourage silly

Then vote for top

Our small group’s brainstorming about how Council could react to small-group request about problem skateboarders:

  • Build skateboard ramp in corner
  • Serve hot chocolate
  • Boombox
    • Play “A Mighty Fortress” to drive them away
    • Play something else to encourage them to stay
  • Interact with them
  • Clear awaydebris; have extra brooms hoping they’ll join in
  • Can we make money?
    • Sell hotdogs, skateboard wax
    • Provide expert workshops

3.  Work Playfully

  • Called to be like children to enter Kingdom
  • Only by taking ourselves less seriously, are we able take God more seriously
  • Working playfully opens us up to new ideas
  • Laughing together can help us take risks
  • We were given 5 minutes to make a skit presenting entire biblical story in 60 seconds or less. Through that experience, we learned:
    • We prefer to talk more than act
    • Barriers we’ve put up can be overcome
    • God’s story is at heart a simple story on which we stand
    • What is keeping us from sharing it?!
    • We don’t need words to tell the story
    • but when we don’t use words, actions are needed

4.  Take Place (Context) Seriously

  • We take context seriously:
    • Because context is important to God
    • Because God comes down and works through us
  • Good “context” questions are:
    • What is breaking God’s heart in this place?
    • What is breaking God’s heart in this place?

5.   Being (Re)Productive

  • God created us to be productive and reproductive
  • When you meet Jesus, you get a job!
  • The best leaders know you can’t just talk about it
  • We are saved by Grace for …
  • Being (re)productive is the only possible outcome when we dare to seek God’s will
  • Questions for individuals:
    • What is one thing you hear God calling you to do when you get home?
    • What is God calling you to stop doing when you get home?
    • Who is one person you want to have help you?

(We offered these responses for our offering in the closing worship.)

6.   Seeing Possibilities

  • Seeing Possibilities was “Standard Operating Procedure” for Jesus
    • We see water; Jesus sees wine
    • We see a dead Lazarus; Jesus sees resurrection
    • We see a sealed tomb; Jesus sees no barriers
  • Seeing possibilities is essential:
    • If we can’t see it, we’re unable to dream it, create it, or reach it
  • Seeing possibilities is the only way for Easter People
  • God can see and do possibilities
  • Exercise:
    • If we actually believed in the God we say we believe in; if the congregation and I actually did what we’re supposed to do:
    • How would I be different? (My response: I would leave more in God’s hands?? maybe)
    • How would our congregation would be different? (My response: we’d be glad, generous, willing workers engaging enthusiastically in our vocations)

The call from today’s event

is to remember “The Practices for a Renewable Life”

which include taking context seriously