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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. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. 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)


Mark Davis said...

Scott, I like your emphasis on relationships in your comments. With whom, exactly, are you relating through this blogspot? Who sits at the prairie table with you?
It seems that you are doing something interesting and exciting that I will enjoy watching unfold from a distance.

Eric Elnes said...

Let me add an "Amen" to Mark's comment ... and a monthly contribution which I'm sending to the address you listed (Not a large one - sorry, as most of my tithe goes to my church - but something!)

Frank said...

Scott: Don't kid yourself. Your true morality is not about having fun with us. It is about you, living like a rational human being.

Remember that God calls each of us by name to Himself and through Christ has allowed each of us as individuals to be one with Him. But that has already been done. As far as Heaven is concerned, He made the sacrifice and paved your way to God. You don't have to and you couldn't if you tried. All that you have to do is accept that through Christ's sacrifice, you have already been made whole with God. There is nothing more for you to do on that count except to simply accept.

All that is left is how you should behave while here on earth. Because God didn't create junk, the characteristics that he endowed to you are purposeful. He made you a rational being on purpose. You have potential for living that way. Your rationality is not a sin; it is your greatest Gift. Proper action here on earth then means that you have to discover how and then to practice that gift. That is an individual responsibility not a collective task. It is part of His Plan for your being. You can learn from others, you can share in the division of labor but first you must always practice what God gave you- your individual rationality.

It's your choice. God gave it to you as part of your being you. He mended the connection between you and Him through His Son. That's done. Simply accept it and live. The highest purpose of your life is the achievement of your happiness on earth. So, choose. You can practice living rationally as an individual or choose to hide yourself in and among the achievement of others. He's called you by name. Live rationally. It is one of the highest praises that you can give to the Creator. My prayer for you and your followers is this. Dear Lord, Bless this man with the realization that you have given him reason as his faculty of living and encourage him to understand it and to use it.