The season of Advent is upon us again, marking the start of a new lectionary year in Christian congregations. For Christian ministers searching for new resources for preaching the lectionary texts, a member of the congregation I serve has recently completed a trilogy of lectionary commentaries: Theology from Exile: Commentary on the Revised Common Lectionary for an Emerging Christianity:
Volume 1, The Year of Luke
Volume 2, The Year of Matthew
Volume 3, The Year of Mark
This series is for “believers in exile,” who are drawn to Jesus’s social justice teachings, but who no longer find meaning in orthodox interpretations of scripture. The project is grounded in the biblical scholarship of Karen Armstrong, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, and the Jesus Seminar, as well as the transforming work of Matthew Fox, whose Creation Spirituality has reframed Christian mysticism for a postmodern cosmology.
The four central questions that guide this series are:
1) What is the nature of God? Violent or nonviolent?
2) What is the nature of Jesus’s message? Inclusive or exclusive?
3) What is faith? Literal belief, or commitment to the great work of justice-compassion?
4) What is deliverance? Salvation from hell, or liberation from injustice?
The answers for the authoritarian right (“Empire”) are: violence, exclusion, literal belief, and salvation from hell in the next life. The answers for the countering partnership on the left (“Covenant”) are nonviolence, inclusion, justice-compassion, and liberation from injustice in this world, here and now. These answers provide guideposts to the authentic teachings of Jesus, and to a way of being religious that has the potential to move us toward a more sustainable, conscious life on this one planet.
The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg is a trained spiritual director, a D.Min. graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary, and the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick, Maryland. Follow him on Facebook (facebook.com/carlgregg) and Twitter (@carlgregg).
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