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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Prairie Table and Religion

In some ways religion and morality go hand-in-hand. Although that has been true for many people over the centuries, for many people it has not been enough. Even more troubling is that certain religions get labeled with certain types of morality--and then the battles really begin. For example, one could view the "religion" of Jesus of Nazareth as a battle between his view of Judaism and the Pharisees' or the Saducees' view of Judaism. Each view carried its own morality, Jesus' seemingly to be caught in the phrase of knowing that God asks for "mercy, not sacrifice."
Prairie Table, as much as it may be religious, carries its own morality too. A morality that understands God wishes to create, sustain, and recycle rather than to destroy, abuse, or waste. The morality of Prairie Table comes from putting relationships ahead of success, statistics, profitability (although as a non-profit organization, that's not a huge concern), and relationships breed their own kind of accountability--one that "accountants" might not be able to calculate. Basically, the morality of Prairie Table arises from the idea that life is more fun "when we do it all together."
Now, this is not the type of "morality" that makes it into the worlds of mass media, or the conventional Christian bookstore. Morality in those places often is a set of rules or ways to behave that follow ideas a bit different than the Jesus of the gospels. The morality of Prairie Table Ministries has three pieces: first, God makes and re-makes life for the sustaining of all creation, including non-human species; secondly, from Christ we receive the power to respect the well-being of someone other than yourself is more important than you; lastly, the Holy Spirit frees us so it's more fun when we do it all together. This is the kind of morality that I like...the kind of morality that puts people ahead of ideas and rules, the kind of morality that trusts in mercy, not the laws of sacrifice. It is--finally--I argue, the morality of the cross of Jesus Christ. So the question for the month: what relationship does morality have to your faith in Christ Jesus?

(PS: A lot of people are wondering if PT will have a "real" site in Bismarck soon. I hope so. If all goes well there whould be something by June 1. Prairie Table Ministries is a non-profit organization under the auspices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Contributions are tax-deductible and can be sent to the Western North Dakota Synod, attn: Prairie Table Ministries, 1614 Capitol Way, PO Box 370,Bismarck, ND 58502)