What does this mean?

Posted by brianmaas in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

“What does this mean?” That’s the quintessential Lutheran question–and needs to be a hallmark of who we are in the 21st century. But the reasons for that await another blog.

For now, that question is pointed specifically at this blog and its chosen title. The intent of this blog is to foster a conversation among people who wonder what it means to follow Jesus in the 21st century. The title refers to the early church as it’s described in Acts, a traditional movement within Judaism centered in Jerusalem, but perpetually being transformed as it moved to Antioch and beyond.

The first century was much more like the 21st century than different from it. Broad cultural change, the impact of technological developments, and diversifying spiritual movements and shifting religious allegiances all joined the age-old tensions between insiders and outsiders, fear and hope, even life and death, to confront the early Christian faith as it struggled to hold to its Jerusalem essentials while adapting for the sake of mission on the road to Antioch.

The banner image above is one I love–a solitary pilgrim along a road somewhere on the high plains of Nebraska. A hundred or more years ago, pioneers traversed those plains, heading in trust to a place beyond the horizon, assuming neither that the journey nor the destination would be comfortable, but trusting that they were headed to a future filled with opportunity. Two millennia ago, our ancestors in the faith did the same thing, heading toward the ends of the earth with a message that compelled them forward. The Nebraska pioneers and the early Christian apostles alike adapted, adjusted and acclimated to new contexts and new cultures, never surrendering their core identity nor yielding to despair.

We are the heirs of their faithful journeys, and the heirs of their mission to continue the apostolic and pioneering call to move toward God’s horizon. Our destination is Antioch–the places where we live, work and play. There we hand on to others the good news of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a Jerusalem gift to Antioch’s needs.

Welcome to the journey!


9 Responses to What does this mean?

  1. Bev Buss says:

    I look forward to reading more!

  2. Michael Ostrom says:

    Thanks for framing our common task in this empowering way – as the movement from Jerusalem to Antioch. You are giving our church handles that we have been missing as we have sought to faithfully discern the leading of the Spirit in these times. I look forward to the conversation and wisdom it will inspire!

  3. Bob Bryan says:

    There is a side trip on the way to Antioch, the “Emmaus Bypass.” The image here of a lonely figure on the way is almost discouraging. I prefer the image of Cleopas and friend, seeking and yet discouraged, and going the wrong way after Jesus was crucified. Perhaps the bishop is his friend on the way with him, and together, they discover Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Encouraged, supporting and guiding each other, they make their way back to Jerusalem, and on to Antioch to be, and to share, the Good News. We’re walking together, sometimes lost, but always together as followers of Christ. It’s a long journey, and like the Kingdom of God being both “here and not yet,” children always ask, “are we there yet?” Well, “we’re there, and not yet.” I’m looking forward to the journey together.

  4. brianmaas says:

    Good point, Bob. We chose the image to focus on the journey and on the unseen destination beyond the horizon, and made sure there was a traveler to suggest movement along the way. We didn’t think about making the solitary traveler a crowd, though that’s a better reflection of what we’re about as Church–certainly as “synod.”
    I guess our next job is to get a mob together and head out on one of the Panhandle backroads for a new photo!
    Thanks for being a “com-pan-ion,” one who “shares the [Emmaus] Bread” along the way.

  5. Julie Krull says:

    I love the prairie and have pioneer blood pulsing deep within every cell of my being. I am fond of the road to Antioch. I have discovered a secret Chalice Well along the path, where myself and others can stop and rest along the way. It is a beautiful “Inner Sanctuary” for rest, renewal, and sustainable manna infused with the healthiest nourishment of Christ Consciousness — illuminating the dark and lonely times. This inner sanctuary provides deep inward peace that lights the way, attracting others to join in a Communion of Souls. Where two or more are gathered, we are made whole. Thanks for sharing the road to Antioch. What is a Synod? The Communion of Souls who gather with intention to share the prairie secrets along the journey.

    Abundant Blessings…

  6. Dave Coker says:

    I must say, Brian, that the photo sure looks like the road to Sullivan Hills! :-)

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