I heard the term ‘wild Christianity’ this week. As much as I found it intriguing, I thought it was also sad. For to preface the word Christianity with ‘wild’ is to admit that there is a Christianity that isn’t wild. A bit like prefacing the word ‘theology’ with the word ‘liberation’. If theology isn’t liberating can we really call it theology? But I get it, not all that is called Christianity is wild and not all that is called theology is liberating, therefore the need for one or other adjective to highlight what is now missing.
Even though ‘tame Christianity’ is an oxymoron, the taming of what commonly passes as Christianity cannot be denied. The wild of Christianity is tamed when control replaces curiosity as the primary spiritual value of community and where order and efficiency show freedom and wonder-wandering the door. The wildness of Christianity is most often traded-in for acceptance at the table of the powerful and privileged. At this table holiness is defined by uniformity according to strict criteria of sameness. Here everyone proudly declares: “We are one because we are the same”. Throughout the ages Jesus has made it his business to rewild these tables. In fact he has been known to wildly overturn them. For those of us who covet sameness – we have been warned.
On Friday I was gifted with an opportunity to join in a tea* ceremony in one of the newly occupied shop spaces belonging to CMM. I have been asked what a tea ceremony is. Well, I am not sure, except to say …tea is made with love, poured with love, served with love and then sipped with love in the hope of tasting love. Anyway, for the tea ceremony Derek Gripper played his guitar … as always … in love, by love and for love.
Afterward he explained a little of the history of the tea ceremony. Its origins of simplicity only later to be tamed within a stiff fancy orderliness. He spoke too about how the guitar as an instrument had also been tamed over time. Originally it was an instrument for the bar and pub that would never have been allowed to (dis)grace a concert hall. Similar to the history of Methodist hymns that originated in pubs sung by less than sober beer drinkers and now tamed by Sunday choirs in suit and tie.
The once wild, now tame, needs rewilding. Of this environmentalists (https://www.rewildingmag.com) say Amen.
Today we join together as a community to renew our Covenant with the un-tame-able God. These Covenanting words truly are wild. I do fear that our familiarity with them however, may have tamed them. And so I pray that the Spirit that blows where it wills, comes and rewilds this Covenant in our hearts today.
*Hibiscus tea from Burkino Fasso in memory and celebration of Malidoma Some who wrote “Of water and the spirit.”
Beloved in Christ, let us once again claim for ourselves this Covenant which God has made with God’s people, and take upon us the yoke of Christ.
To take Jesus’ yoke upon us means that we are content for him to appoint us our place and work, and himself to be our reward.
Christ has many services to be done: some are easy, others are difficult; some bring honour, others bring reproach; some are suitable to our natural inclinations and material interests, others are contrary to both; in some we may please Christ and please ourselves, in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves. Yet the power to do all these things is given to us in Christ, who strengthens us.
Therefore let us make this Covenant of God our own. Let us give ourselves to God, trusting in God’s promises and relying on God’s grace.
Lord God, Holy Lord, since you have called us through Christ to share in this gracious Covenant, we take upon ourselves with joy the yoke of obedience and, for the love of you, engage ourselves to seek and do your perfect will.
We are no longer our own but yours. I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will; put me to doing, put me to suffering*; let me be employed for you or laid aside for you, exalted for you or brought low for you; let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things, let me have nothing; I fully and freely yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, you are mine and I am yours. So be it. And the Covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
*Please note: The traditional words, “Put me to doing, put me to suffering,” do not mean that we ask God to make us suffer. Rather, they express our desire to do any faithful act regardless of whether there is suffering involved.