Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Crash into the Gospel

I spent last night watching “Crash” with 15 students from Canada and Germany who are in Seattle this week to learn about what it means to be a ‘witness’ to Christ’s life in an urban setting. The discussion that followed the movie was good, and watching the movie a 2nd time was, for me, a very powerful experience. It was unfolding while the music from “Rent” was wafting down from upstairs, and somehow the convergence of the two films spoke of the single powerful theme that characterizes our culture: We’re cut-off from intimacy. There are other themes, especially in Crash: pluralism, materialism, racism, and how expedient our integrity is when money is more important than relationships. But all of it, I’m convinced, is ultimately rooted in loss of intimacy.

What Crash does so marvelously is remind us that we’re all held captive in some way. Our captors wear many masks: fear, racism, greed, materialism, addiction, busyness. Each of these captivities wound us and create a propensity to label others, reducing complex and unique individuals who are made in the image of God, to inhuman categories: homeless, gay, Arab, etc. on the one hand, or corporate, wealthy, white-male, workaholic, conservative on the other. Either way, when the label becomes the person, we’ve become complicit in the problem of our time: we've furthered alienation and loss of intimacy.

This loss of intimacy is, for many of us, precisely where the gospel meets us. (that's powerful stuff - the part about recognizing no man according the flesh) Boris Kornfield a Russian Jew of met Christ in the 50's, spoke of finding more freedom in the captivity of the Gulag than he’d ever had ‘outside’ because his deepest longings had been met in Christ – he’d encountered a lover. And his story is told over and over again, through countless captivities down through the ages. It’s ironic that we, in our freedom, often have a hard time with God because of the suffering peoples in the world, while the suffering are the ones who often meet Christ, find healing and intimacy in His love and became agents of healing for others around them.

The plague of isolation is getting worse, with all its attendant fears and hatred. We need, like Kornfield, and encounter with Christ so that the deepest longings for intimacy in each of our hearts can be addressed. Then, out from that place, we receive an invitations to become reconcilers in a world of enemies, beacons of hope and courage in a tired, fearful world. That’s a calling worth my time and, I hope, yours.


At 1/3/06 11:02, Anonymous Dan said...

In response to your “labeling”, and how it reduces people from the creation they are, to the label we put on them, I couldn’t agree with you more. I heard about 2 scenarios recently that pitted good and bad against each other when it comes to how a follower of Christ should treat everyone. I live in Portland and there is a street preacher/yeller who sits on a bench across the street from my office, yelling doomsday scriptures at people. “Jezebel” is the name he calls women wearing makeup, or any clothes he finds inappropriate. He, in my opinion, is doing more damage for the name of Christ than any atheist marching to the Supreme Court to get 10 Commandments plaques removed from courtrooms. On the other hand, I heard about a seminar going on at a church somewhere in the U.S. where a lot of protesters showed up against the seminar. The church served the protesters morning coffee and pastries, lunch, provided them with Porta-Potties, and just hung out with them and talked with them. Never did they try to debate these people into “submission” or a change of mind. The church loved the protesters, and the result was a lot of positive feelings from the protesters toward the church. Love people, as Christ commands. God will judge, and find fault where fault is to be found…like in the depths of all of our hearts. Thank you God for Jesus!

At 1/3/06 12:13, Blogger Dan said...

Excellent post. Thank you.

At 1/3/06 12:34, Blogger Very Berry Daiquiri said...

Thank you for your insights.

At 1/3/06 17:35, Blogger andrew said...

pastor richard,

i'm glad that you watched 'crash' a second time; it forced me to reconsider the film in a more optimistic light. although i was initially entertained by the film, i thought it was a bit too obvious. it walloped me on the head with a big fat anti-racism plank. the racism in 'crash' was so blatant that it was hard for me to relate, and i was afraid that people who engage in more subtle (and perhaps more common) racism might miss the point and walk blissfully away without a thought to their own prejudices.

i still think that. but your post helped me remember that, like any good drama, 'crash' illuminated a bit of the human experience; it was indeed about loss of intimacy. i'm glad that we (kind of) have an answer for this 'plague.'

At 2/3/06 08:23, Blogger Crash said...

Crash is a great movie. I think we have lost some intimacy in the church. Keep up the good work Rain City Pastor.

At 3/3/06 19:52, Blogger Jim Underhill said...

Our fear of intimacy can often be demolished by dealing with what keeps us from each other. That is to embrace that which we fear/hate/mistrust and break the barrier to wholeness and relationship. Take food to a homeless street person and ask their name. Read the history of a people group you dislike and try to smash the wall through truth and facts. Walk through a poor or rich neighborhood to listen to it, take in the smells and sights, maybe greet a person. Moving towards needed solutions may feel uncomfortable or threatening, but it's so necessary for us all.

At 6/3/06 12:14, Blogger Ryan said...

I'm a past Capernwray LTS and just stumbled across your blog. I'm currently taking Business studies at the University of Alberta, and I couldn't agree more with your "take" on the absence of intimate personal relationship in the world today. That's an astoundingly appropriate movie to show the LTS group on their Seattle trip, and those insights will, I pray, make a difference for them in their lives and year of school. I still remember and appreciate the message (Jeremiah 29) you had for my group of LTS several years ago. Thank you for your faithful ministry! ryan

At 9/3/06 15:52, Blogger Trusting said...

There is a loss of intimacy, for sure. Part of the problem is too much emphasis on me. If we cannot see past ourselves and our own needs and wants, we don't open up to others. The need for more of a world perspective has been brought home to me recently. I have just finished a course called Perspectives Exposures: Discovering God's Heart for All Nations and Our Part in His Plan. It is a condensed version of the Worldwide Perspectives course that was developed by US Center for World Missions.
It is difficult to briefly tell how much this has helped to get us out of our little box - to really see the global plan that is unfolding in regard to the spread of the Gospel message. It has been an enlightening and convicting five weeks. Clearly, we all need to be in prayer from this world perspective, rather than always in our little box.


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