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The Future of Christianity

The Prophetic Future

Wednesday, November 30th, 2022

Episcopal priest Nontombi Naomi Tutu finds a vision for the future of Christianity in the wisdom of the Hebrew prophet Amos.

When God calls Amos from his fairly stable life, Amos realizes that he is called to be in conflict with the prevailing wisdom and power structure of his day. Yet, he knows that he is called not simply to upbraid the people of Israel but to remind them who their God is and who they are called to be. . . . This is a people who have pledged themselves and their descendants to be in a covenantal relationship with God. The covenant is not about feast days or offering sacrifices to God; it is about how they are to live as a people in the world. They are meant to model a new way of being in community and to show that worshipping God is about every aspect of their lives.

Worship of God is . . . all about how we treat our neighbor, how we deal with the less fortunate, what we do to or for the widow and orphan, and how we treat the stranger in our midst. Amos tries . . . to make it clear to God’s people that the God who created and loves them, expects that their belief in God will challenge them to live lives that mirror God’s love. . . .

It is harder to see this Amos Christianity in the world, but I know it is there and I believe this is actually the more dominant story of Christianity. It is more hidden because it is not flashy or seeking attention. . . . I have seen it in the small parish of St. Thomas, Kagiso, South Africa. When we visited some years ago, the rector at the time, Xolani Dlwati, told us, “We do not do outreach. Everything we do is worship.” This congregation, comprised of predominantly poor families, fed lunch to children in the neighborhood school; bought school books, shoes, and uniforms for children in the community; stood as guardians for families of child-headed households; and made sure that those dying from AIDS had their homes cleaned, were eating healthy food, and knew they were loved. There was no fancy church sanctuary, no glamorous life for the rector, just worship of God that showed, through their caring, what Christianity is all about. . . .

Our faith has never been about those who are most popular and those who preach prosperity. It has been about the communities faithfully modeling a way of being in the world, of being in relationship with each other and with the prisoner and the hungry. It has been about voices reminding us that living God’s love looks like our daily experiences. It has been about Amos, standing up to the establishment in the name of God and in the name of justice. So, I believe that the future of Christianity is indeed its past and present. It is Amos. It is us.

Reference:

Nontombi Naomi Tutu, “The Prophetic Future of Christianity,” Oneing 7, no. 2, The Future of Christianity (Fall 2019): 80–81, 82. Available in print and PDF download.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Christopher Holt, Newgrange Triple Spiral (detail), 2014, Ireland, photograph, Wikimedia. Joanna Kosinska, Untitled (detail), 2017, photograph, Unsplash. Nasa and ESA, M104 Sombrero Galaxy (detail), 2003, United States, photograph, Wikimedia. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.

Image inspiration: From a past shrouded by time, we hold the known candle of our present moment toward an unknown and expansive future. Past, present, and future— Christ is present in each.

Story from Our Community:

As a lifelong Christian, born into a churchgoing family with devout parents, I carried a burden of doubt for many years into my fifties. I didn’t dare tell anyone, not even my husband, for fear they would tell me it was the same for them. The ruse would be up, and all my church and community life would fall apart as a sham. At the heart of my doubt was the beautiful image of our blue planet in space, which I think had lodged in my subconscious. Where was God in that huge empty space? Then one Ash Wednesday, it came to me, like a revelation: the “space” is Love, the Love is God, and there is no space— even down to atoms and smaller—where God, where Love—isn’t. —Diane E.

Share your own story with us.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.

 

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