The Prayer

An inclusive Christian community in Auckland, New Zealand

The Prayer

The Prayer

I pray you’ll be our eyes, and watch us where we go, and help us to be wise in times when we don’t know.

Let this be our prayer when we lose our way.

Lead us to a place, guide us with your grace to a place where we’ll be safe.

Give us grace so we’ll be safe.

I pray we’ll find your light,

And hold it in our hearts when stars go out each night.

Let this be our prayer, when shadows fill our day.

Lead us to a place, guide us with your grace.

Give us faith so we’ll be safe.

We ask that life be kind and watch us from above.

We hope each soul will find another soul to love.

Let this be our prayer, just like every child, need to find a place, guide us with your grace.

Give us faith so we’ll be safe.

Words and music by Carole Bayer Sager and David Foster

© 1996 Warner Barham Music LLC (BMI)

Progressive Christianity

Further Meanderings by Keith Rowe –

As published in the Newsletter of the Community of St Lukes, Remuera.

In 1967, I wrote a paper for the Methodist Church of NZ on “The impact of the Geering controversy on the Church’. In it I referred to the gap between the worlds of Biblical and theological scholarship and what was read in Minister’s studies and the even bigger gap between what preachers believed and what they shared with their congregations. Exciting and faith fuelled scholarship was not being shared with the folk in the pews as it should be.  What was true 45 years ago is even truer today.  Progressive Christian Ministers and Priests believe that the fruits of Biblical and theological scholarship should be shared with parishioners and discussed in the parish. Knowledge is to be shared. Parishioners are not children! Parsons are not all knowing Gods!

Progressive Christianity is like a large room with many doors into a single meeting place. Diversity reigns and is valued. Some have entered the room bearing the spiritual and intellectual scars gained from life in conservative congregations.  They seek a place and a people where more thoughtful modes of Christian believing are honoured. Some have entered a door marked as ‘the feminist critique of patriarchy’. They are tired of male dominated churches and are seeking a place and a people where male and female wisdom is equally valued.

Some enter by the door marked ‘scientific discovery’. They can no longer worship among people who want to argue that Darwin let us astray or that the world is only a few thousand years old.

Some have entered by the doorway marked ‘inclusion’. Gay, lesbian and transgender people along with people seeking a new beginning in life find their way into the circle through this door.

Some of them have been battered by the words and attitudes of preachers and people who quote chapter and verse from the Bible but for whom the word ‘lover’ has a limited meaning.

Another door is described as ‘interfaith understanding’. People who no longer want to be part of churches that belittle those of other religions or who are unable to recognise truth breathed into the human family by voices other than their own enter by this door.

A large door is marked as ‘Liberal Christianity’.  Those who enter by this door are shaped by theological and social perspectives that largely grew out of the Church’s struggle for integrity in believing and living during the twentieth century.  They are impatient with the damage done to the church by fundamentalism but are now seeking to define themselves in positive rather than argumentative terms.

Yet another door provides an entry for those who claim to value ‘spirituality rather than religion’. They are on a spiritual journey but find little help in the structures and debates of organised religion. There are a lot of these people around but not many know of the progressive doorway.

One important door is worth noting. This is the one through which those seeking ways of contributing to the furtherance of peace and justice in a tired and violent world enter.

Some Progressive Christian groups find their primary focus here.  Many of us enter the room of Progressive Christianity through more than one of these doors while others, clergy and lay, trapped in conservative congregations linger at a doorway seeking the courage to enter even if it means leaving some things behind.

Some people wonder about the word ‘Progressive’. The term has its difficulties. It can sound a bit pretentious, like we’re looking down our noses at those who are ‘regressive’. It does however draw attention to an evolutionary and non-dogmatic style of Christianity.

Whatever we think of the term, ‘Progressive’ is the term adopted by Christians who seek for ways of Christian living and believe, worshipping and peace-making that draw on the best of human wisdom and meet the spiritual hunger that afflicts our generation. Some prefer the more inclusive term ‘liberal-progressive’.

Progressive Christianity is not a finished product. By definition it’s a journey, always provisional, always evolving.

(Keith Rowe has published, in February 2013, a book ‘Why weren’t we told?)