20 January 2008

Roadside Ecclesiology

It was an interesting road trip from Memphis, TN to New York, NY. 1058 miles give or take, and lots of roadside theology along the way.

I'm not sure how much of a Greek scholar is the pastor of the Shiloh (TN) Church of Christ -- regardless his instincts are right on. In the New Testament, the Greek word we translate as 'church' is 'ekklesia' and means literally 'assembly'. The pastor's message here is a bit more eccleisologically minded than one generally finds in Southern Protestantism. It asserts that the church is a gift from God, which is in keeping with more high church, catholic ecclesiology. The 'assemly necessary' quip is well taken. St. Paul's vision of the church was of an assembled body of believers, individual members of the body of Christ on earth coming togetheer -- the 'church militant' as it is called. It matters that each of us as members of the body of Christ do assembly. Some assembly is required. It is important to go to church on Sunday -- not perhaps for what you get out of it, but rather what you are required to give to it.
And now we turn to the Church Triumphant, or at least one vision of it. This is the back of a tombstone in a cemetery just off I-81 somewhere north of Roanoke, VA. We stopped to let the dog have a walkabout and to use the outhouse in the cemetery ourselves (yes, there was one) and saw this. It's a nice sentiment, I suppose. I like the almost Mormon idea of a union here on earth lasting into the next life. But I'm not sure I want to think of continuing the labor God calls us to here on earth in the great hereafter. I'd like to think of us praising God for eternity, not trucking forever! But hey, if you really like trucking, then I guess that's what paradise is all about!


Derek said...

The idea of continuing to punch a time clock once we get to heaven is similar to the gripe I've always had with reincarnation -- or, rather, the people who find reincarnation appealing. I've heard more than one person say they appreciate the opportunity of another life, as someone (something?) else, because it's an opportunity to finally "get it right." Personally, nothing speaks to me in Christian theology more than the realization that I don't HAVE to get it right, that I could never get it right, so God will have to get it right instead. Reincarnation, by contrast, just sounds exhausting to me.

I suppose, if you wanted to drive a truck for all eternity, then have at it. But in my concept of heaven, as compared to my experience of work, there aren't any laptops, telephones or PowerPoint presentations. (There are lots and lots of PowerPoint presentations in hell, I have no doubt.) There may, of course, be books in heaven, but only the good ones and the fun ones.

Julie said...

Oh, please, let there be laptops in heaven! I'll have so much creative fun when I can use my computer to do really interesting things rather than just work! And the iPhone, how could I live without my cool little toy! But, I digress. That really wasn't my original comment, I just had to respond to Derek.

My original comment was that my stepson gave me a book for christmas that is full of church signs from across the country. They are a hoot - some are so clever and welcoming, others are scary and a little frightening, while others are puzzling. I'll try to remember to bring it to the senior retreat - that ought to give us plenty to laugh about when we are sipping wine in the evening. =)