Seeking our Living Orthodoxy

I changed my tagline again. I first started this blog because of being pushed ever-so-gently over the bloggery cliff by my friend Kathy. I wondered back then if I should come up with a much more clever title than just my name. Kathy said no. Turns out she was right of course. I have changed my tagline (which would have been the title) three times already in just 6 short months. But I think its good to evolve a bit. Isn’t it?

I am still searching for real church. The church is my passion. More specifically, the Body of Christ is my passion and my hope is to see her recover her true face (to borrow a phrase from CS Lewis) and her true identity. The Apostle John describes our identity simply, “We are like Him (Jesus) in this world.” I love Barbara Brown Taylor’s description of Jesus: “[His] being is so wrapped up in the being of God that when He says, “I am” there is no difference between the two. When you look at Him you see God. When you listen to Him, you hear God. Not because He has taken God’s place, but because He is the clear window God has gazed into flesh and blood- the porthole between this world and the next, the passageway between heaven and earth.” What would it mean for the church to dream for this kind of intimacy with God? And to imagine what it would mean to be like a clear window so that the world could look at us and see something more of what God is really like?

At least part of what has so distorted the self-understanding of the Church has been our shrunken understanding of truth. Our paper flat orthodoxy has not been enough to nourish a deep intimacy with God nor a healthy, fruitful, spirituality. It has been the root of most of our strife and divisions. The Protestant church in particular is guilty of choosing easy divorce when something sounds out of sync with the party line. We have not learned how to do community – how to stay and love and forgive and be forgiven by those with whom we disagree. Nor do we stay around long enough to find that a hard knock might actually sheer off a sharp edge or two from our shiny personas and certainties. As Richard Rohr says, churches don’t split over caring for widows and orphans.

A few years ago I began to ponder the idea of “a living orthodoxy” and wrote just a little about it here. It is the idea that truth is not merely a set of creeds or a statement of belief or doctrine. Truth is a Person. I am the Way the Truth and the Life… It is hard to wrap our dualistic minds around that. We like our truths typed and printed out in hard copy in black and white. A living orthodoxy is much harder to capture and apprehend. It turns ink into blood. In response, we can only ponder, wonder, and worship. We may have conversations with Him of course. But we may often find, as Job did, that rather than give us explanations and propositions, He gives us only Himself. And we will learn, slowly, that that is enough.

As I continue my search for what Real Church looks like in this late age, and indeed, to be a truth seeker, I am re-tagging my blog to what the focus has really been about all along: Jesus, the Living Orthodoxy. Perhaps it is advent that has stirred my thinking about this again. After all, advent is about the coming of a whole new Paradigm.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” Mark 1: 2-3

And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:37-39


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  • real live preacher

    Haven’t we all been on this journey? I know I have. I haven’t had a tagline to change, but I’m changed my ideas about church many times over the last 15 years.

    I have definitely moved away from the “My Christianity can be written on paper” approach.

  • L.L. Barkat

    Pushed over the bloggerly cliff. I smiled at that. It’s how I came to be in the valley too. : )

  • David Shepherd

    Ellen, your thoughts are helping pull me back from another precipice. Thanks…

  • Jerald

    I was reminded of another thing that Jesus said to a disciple, “Don’t you know me Philip? When you look at me you do see the Father. He and I are one person.”

    It’s not the babe in a manger that draws the moisture to my eyes. It’s God in human form that left his throne and gave himself for me. Wow!

  • pam

    So beautifully put. thank you.

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