While the gaze of this blog mostly turns to the problems we are having, it is important every once and a while to take a break and point towards other concerns, ones that may have greater impact on our life as a Christian community. Here are two:
Dr Michael Poon, Convener of Global South Theological Education & Formation Track, has written an important essay titled: The Long Road to Full Inheritance: Anglican Communion, Anno Domini 2007.
Dr. Poon has written before on the issues he raises here, notably in his essay, ""Till they have homes: Christian responsibilities in the twenty-first century." His challenge to western, "first world" thinking on mission is important, even if he sometimes harps rather sharply on the influence of American money and English history. Here is a snippet from his essay:
"How can we move beyond the multicultural and globalization visions in our life together in the Communion? The multicultural vision in fact has come to mean different ethnic groups share (or compete) the same space but live their separate lives. St Paul in Romans 9-11 and Ephesians 2 offered a different view of the redeemed humanity, where paths do not merely intersect, but come together, and share in the same household of God. Can we (East and West, North and South) sharing a common history?
In the same way, globalization promises wealth and plenty to peoples and nations who adopt the consumerist ethos. The world is configured to serve the needs of the rich.
Christianity points to a vision where all are restored to be fellow inheritors of God's good earth. Can our Communion imagine new ways of engagement (aka instruments of communion) that has fettered the Communion to American money and the Church of England's history? What opportunities are open to us in the Anglican Communion? "
While I have other problems with the "instruments of communion," primarily the fact that they are top heavy with bishops and are mostly not elected by anybody. Still his points are well taken.
Bishop Pierre Whalon has written Where Have All the Christians Gone? It is a commentary on the rapid depletion of the Christian community in most of the Middle East. It is too easy to forget these churches. In the first place American interest in most of the countries of the Middle East is limited to looking for enemies. Even in our concerns for Palestine and Israel our gaze first goes to Jewish and Muslim communities, and to Christian communities only in so far as they are engaged in social services. Bishop Whalon is absolutely on target in calling us to lift our gaze and see the plight of Christians there.
In 1979 I went to church in Beirut at a small Syrian Orthodox Church, founded in about 180. The congregation had made it for nineteen hundred years, but I have no idea if it has lasted into the beginning of the 21st century. In 1990 the Orthodox Church in Damascus was still active, but with difficulty. Time has rolled on and between the those who have left and those who have been discouraged by loss of community and simply given up it is no wonder that these communities are near to being lost. It is wonderful therefore to see Bishop Whalon's essay and the pictures of the work and life that is still there. Please read, mark and inwardly digest his article.