by Shane Claiborne 01-29-2009
It seems that much of our conversation as a Church is in a perpetual cycle of reaction. We are tempted to exaggerate the neglected truth, and end up making incomplete disciples, either social justice disciples without Jesus or Jesus disciples without social justice. Then there are those special moments where Jesus and Justice kiss. I recently had a moment of that kind of romance, in Australia.
I just got back from a trip to Australia where I was saw folks fall in love with Jesus, the real Jesus, for the first time… and with the innocence of a kid at the altar in a big tent revival, fell on their knees with tears going down their cheeks for they found had found their Lover. It was a revival.
First off, I’ll have to say that the Uniting Church and National Christian Youth Conference have raised the bar on what you can do with a few thousand Christians gathered in a city together. They sent hundreds of folks out in small affinity groups all over the city of Melbourne to infiltrate the city with grace and holy mischief. Here are a few of the things the groups did:
Can you imagine if our North American Christian conferences had a witness on the streets like that? In the middle of it all, I had one person come up to me and say – “if this is what Christianity is, then sign me up.” In this notoriously non-Christian country, I was proud to be part of a witness that showed folks a Christianity worth believing in, good news they could see and touch and feel.
I got to preach, in the middle of Fed Square in Melbourne. I preached Jesus. Sweet, wild, dangerous Jesus. Then, at the end of the week of revival, as the grand finale, we did communion, hand in hand with the aboriginal Christians, the indigenous people of this land we call Australia. Our communion elements were “damper and billy tea”, the bread and drink of the indigenous people, which I served with a beautiful, wise, old aboriginal pastor. Many of the folks stumbled up to the Lord’s table for the first time (and needed a little coaching… it was precious). One young woman took the bread and, holding it tenderly, whispered to me, with tears running down her face: “I believe. For the first time in my life, I believe.”
I will never forget that moment. It reminded me why I do all this speaking stuff.
I prayed that night with tears streaming down my face, that just as our bodies digest the damper and tea, that we would be the ones being digested, that we would become the Body of Christ. As the old saying goes, “You are what you eat.” May it be so. Body of Christ, fill us. Blood of Christ, inebriate us —that we might no longer live, but that you would live in us.
ShaneClaiborne is a Red Letter Christian and a founding partner of The Simple Way community, a radical faith community that lives among and serves the homeless in the Kensington neighbourhood of Philadelphia. He is the co-author, with Chris Haw, of Jesus for President.
Reprinted with permission from Sojourners, (800) 714-7474, www.sojo.net.
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