The Heart of Christianity—Rediscovering A Life of Faith: How We Can Be Passionate Believers
Last year, the Arlington Heights Library initiated One Book, One Village, inviting the whole community to read the same book during a period of several months. People of all ages participated in reading and discussing Ordinary Grace. Existing book groups incorporated it and additional opportunities were provided. Thousands participated, far exceeding all expectations.
Inspired by the library, we are initiating One Book, One Parish this coming program year. We are encouraging everyone to read Marcus Borg’s book The Heart of Christianity—Rediscovering A Life of Faith: How We Can Be Passionate Believers. Marcus Borg was a Christian, an Anglican, a scholar, a teacher, a prophet and a healer. Over many decades, Borg provided a lifeline to those seeking a fresh understanding of who Jesus was and is, based on examination of the earliest sources now accessible, and a deeply compelling new way of framing what this way of Jesus is all about.
Sometimes I think we forget that Jesus did not come to begin a religion, or any organization at all. He came to invite us into a way of life where we are drawn to abide more deeply with God and with one another. It is the way of love, in which we participate in the healing of the world, joining with God in making this space and time reflect God’s deep yearning for all of us to abide in the kingdom of God here and now. All of us know people who have left organized religion behind, in many cases because the tradition they inherited was too brittle, too rigid. Jesus challenged those of his day, and of our own, to the ongoing realization that our concept of God is never big enough to hold the true God and that the life of faith is organic and living.
Borg’s book has supported many communities in their efforts to understand what it means to be a Christian in the 21st century, drawing upon the wisdom of our Christian tradition. For those who have been struggling or who have questions, as many here at St. Simon’s have confided in me they have, each turn of the page can fill one with a sense of hope and possibility of reclaiming a joy-filled and meaningful life of faith that is both relevant and nourishing, transformative and accessible. Others of our community don’t feel a need to question the faith they received and may not feel comfortable talking about some of the ideas raised. It is my hope that by exploring the Heart of Christianity together, we can voice our own understanding of our faith more effectively while deepening our appreciation for the perspective of others. Our commitment in this endeavor is to make more room at the table, for the Christian tradition is wide and deep, far more rich and complex than many of us realize.
I encourage you to read the book early or throughout the year as we journey together. We will have copies on hand in the coming weeks, and there are both new and used copies available on line. The invitation for us this year is to do more than simply absorb the content of Heart of Christianity. Our hope is to provide safe and nurturing places, for those who wish to, to explore more fully what is at the heart of Christianity for themselves and as a community.
Below are a few opportunities being planned. More details to come:
- The three parish book groups are sponsoring conversations in September. As always, these groups are open to all. Here is a link to those locations and times.
- Our First Sundays, starting in October, will provide opportunities for exploring The Heart of Christianity and its implications for our life and community, together with some exciting new offerings for our children, youth and families.
- There will be some additional learning opportunities on Sundays after services.
- Facilitated small groups will be offered starting in the fall as a way to go beyond understanding the content of Borg’s book, to a deeper engagement of the material and what it means for our own journey of faith and life.
Please know that my door is open, and I welcome the opportunity to talk with you further about this or anything in our common life. Wherever you find yourself on your journey, it is hoped that you will be nourished and supported by being part of St. Simon’s.
Hope to see you Sunday,