Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Good Boxes and Bad Boxes

Over a surprise breakfast that our neighbors planned to celebrate Jennifer's birthday the conversation quickly turned to religion. One friend commented that she doesn't believe in many of the beliefs of the Catholic church and that is why not all of her children were baptized. Instead she wants them to choose their confirmation and baptism for themselves. Some of the other women around the table became very silent because this women was questioning the core traditions of their faith. We began to discuss faith, God, and tradition and soon it struck me that for many of these women what they call their religion, what I call a branch of the Christian church, represents no more than baptism, first communion, and confirmation. I knew that before, but I was in awe of the fact that some of the women were following their faith and belief system just for these traditions. They do not go to "misa" every Sunday nor do they confess, two very important parts of the catholic faith, but they call themselves catholic. What shocked me more than anything was that one of my dear friends started to make fun of her brother who is a very devote catholic. He does follow it teachings closely yet for her he was a fanatic. When the topic turned to my beliefs my friends started commenting on how weird the evangelical church is and told me some strange stories about their experiences with the evangelical church, and my heart sunk. I tried to explain that I didn't believe in the same things as those evangelical churches with which they had come into contact with. They suggested I come up with another name for myself than Christian in order to avoid being placed in the same box with these other Christians, which honestly are teaching things that are not true. And so I left my birthday breakfast thankful for a group of neighbors that have, time and time again, gone out of their way to make me feel at home here, who love and respect me deeply, but who are weary to get involved with our "religion" for fear of what it may mean. On one hand they are hesitant to study with people that are not from the catholic tradition, though most of these friends do not agree 100% with its teachings, and are not devote in anyway, on the other hand they are afraid of becoming fanatics and maybe what it would mean to truly follow the teaching of Jesus, or possibly of merely being associated with the evangelical church which honestly has a pretty bad reputation here. And we, continue to pray that our neighbors and others would be able to get past labels, and see God, and understand that to know him changes our lives radically. We are not as concerned what label you put on it...We have people from various traditions in our small group, the point is that our faith impacts the way we live. If not it does not hold much value.

And so, this year after celebrating my birthday and Mexico's independence day yesterday, I am more resolved to live out my faith whole heartedly, to continue to show love to my neighbors and those I work with, and seek to not only call myself a follower of Christ, but live as part of his kingdom. Doing such a thing, no matter where we live in the world will most likely not be popular, but if it is done correctly, it will change they way we live and the world around us.

Jennifer Rebecca

We like the subtitle to Brian McLaren's book "A Generous Orthodoxy"

"Why I am a missional+evangelical+post/protestant+liberal/conservative+mystical/poetic+biblical+charismatic/contemplative+fundamentalist/calvinist+anabaptist/anglican+methodist+catholic+green+incarnational+depresssed-yet-hopeful+emergent+unfishished CHRISTIAN"

1) Jennifer's surprise birthday breakfast with her group of neighbors
2) Small luncheon in Leon for local pastors
3) The ballet barres in the gym where Jennifer is teaching ballet classes...We are thankful she has the barres and appreciate your donations making them possible.

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