It was the first day of Lent. And my first Ash Wednesday service, complete with the sign of the cross lightly drawn on my forehead with ash mixed with olive oil, along with the other 20 or so gathered at a dimly lit Bangsar Lutheran Church.
I’ve been thinking about these few things I learned at school work, a lot. Not sure why they pop up.
A couple of years back, I attended a Global Leadership Summit. It might have been Bill Hybels who pointed out that there were two things that motivate passion projects: anger and zeal to fix a problem; or/and a dream of seeing what could be.
There were a few past conversations that I am reflecting on today, and that is, what propels me – love or anger? And is anger (or, ahem, “zeal”?) part of love? Maybe angered passion is a passion that lacks trust in God, that must be assuaged with prayer.
So today, I was in a conference call at home for the short course I am taking on Lutheran theology organised by the Lutheran World Federation in Geneva. As the students introduced ourselves and our backgrounds, Mum overheard me describing myself as a Methodist, who is also ecumenical in outlook.
Over dinner, she asked me about it, wondering (doubting!) if I was truly a Methodist than an Anglican, which was essentially the church I was brought up in. The local church I belong to also does not necessarily fit the typical picture of a Methodist church in Malaysia. It was a really good question because it gave me the opportunity to put together my thoughts.
I proceeded to share with her why I am happy to consider myself at least Wesleyan, if not Methodist. I of course started with the fact that Wesley himself was an Anglican, so even if I did identify very much with the Anglican liturgy, I could still very well be Wesleyan. Anyway I don’t think there could be anything more Wesleyan than to have an Anglican background first. HAHA. But I am no expert on church history, so I go with what little I know.
List of Scripture references, bibliography and notes on bibliography available at the end.
Throughout the biblical narrative, God has acted to create or make an alternative society. This alternative society in turn is the conduit through which He performs His ever expansive plan of redemption which includes the salvation of humanity and renewal of the earth. Mind you, (and I emphasise this because the Reformation has resulted in the form of individualism prevalent in Christianity today but hardly seen before it’s time,) not to create perfect or God-fearing individuals per se, but to make a beautiful, loving, just society. This society is pictured in different ways in the Bible such as sheep, a bride, a priesthood, a nation. Basically, it is a “people”.
There is a death that lurks in this life;
a dragon, quiet asleep.
Yet who knows when he shall awaken?
Smoke ascends from his nostrils:
he is made drowsy from the medicine of love;
he is enchanted by the great mist of life.
May he never awaken.
As long as there is love and life,
may he never awaken.