I missed the Moderator's modcast http://www.mod.reyes-chow.com/ yesterday for a good reason. I was trying to find a way forward. I've read Beau Weston's paper, and am an avid follower of his blog, http://gruntledcenter.blogspot.com/. But the paper, and most of our conversation, hit on the major reason we can't find our way: history, especially recent (last 500 years) history, is not a guide. It is an obstacle.
Our terms of conversation are still wrapped up in a Christendom Christianity which has no traction or power in our current circumstances. Why does the church exist? In Christendom, the right response is, "how dare you!?" That doesn't work now. The idea of respect for tradition's sake has never had a great deal of credence in America-- there must be more of an explanation for the hope that is within you than that it was in your parents. The Presbyterian Church (USA) is not a Scotch/Irish Cultural Heritage Society. But we lack a vocabulary to talk about first things-- we get queasy when we have to talk about Jesus-- see my other posts below about being different.
Beau is right-- we have to create a new centripetal force inside this denomination, something (I would say Someone) who/which draws us together, holds us in the midst of serious disagreements, and creates a common language which can remind us we are not strangers or enemies, but blood relatives. That something/someone will not be an establishment that through the gravity of its Charleton Heston voice and sociological peer pressure says, "Come!" It will be a voice that calls to all who have ears to hear, "Go! And go together!"
I hope that what Shannon Kershner and I did yesterday is a start on that task in Grace Presbytery. Shannon and I do not see eye-to-eye on the major issues before us: but I respect Christ's call on Shannon's life as a preacher of the Gospel. I appreciate her willingness to serve Jesus Christ with all that she has, and I believe that that appreciation and respect are mutual. If Grace is willing to open up that communication and respect, then we can learn to talk again. If we can talk, we can come closer to understanding one another. If we understand, we can support one another's ministry with integrity. If we can support one another, we can encourage our growth individually and communally in Christ as we seek to re-evangelize a culture that believes it has been there, done that, bought the T-shirt and found Christendom Christianity to be a false religion.
"By this shall all people know that you are my disciples," Jesus said: "if you have love for one another." The path of the past is a trip to nowhere. We're on untrodden ground-- the last footprints the Church left here are almost 2,000 years old. If there's any history that can guide us, it is in that ancient apostolic age, where the only establishment was for tentmaking.