What we’re reading: Jan. 20, 2022

This week we’re launching a new Curated Content section here on the Accidental Tomatoes website to help generate conversations around the content we’re reading, watching, and listening to.

In this first installment, we’re featuring content from Diana Butler Bass, West Virginia University, Pastoria, and Relevant Magazine.

Epiphany Now (Diana Butler Bass)

Author, historian, and public theologian Diana Butler Bass reminds us that Jesus’ message of justice and liberation is always met with resistance from the powers and principalities that benefit from the status quo. The season of epiphany is a time when those systems and structures are unveiled for what they are.

Epiphany is a cracking of the ice underfoot. The frozen world starts giving way to something else — the branches sparkle in the moonlight, a star leads to a barn, the beauty of the deep structure of things is revealed. We begin to wonder: Maybe every baptism announces God’s love. Maybe water always has been wine. Maybe we are all prophets of liberation. Maybe every day’s work holds abundance. The poor and sad and persecuted have always been the blessed. Perhaps we are always dancing on the stars and just don’t notice. Not until an epiphany. It is far more than a day. It isn’t just the “weeks following” Christmas or the Magi visit. This is the season of extraordinary time, the in-breaking of creation’s promise. This Epiphany, this seeing, this glory of the cosmos manifested here and now.

Diana Butler Bass, The Cottage

Click here for the full article

Faith communities from LGBTQ+ Perspective (WVU Today)

Toxic theology and discriminatory church polity has left many LGBTQ+ people with little choice but to leave churches to which they once belonged or avoid Christianity altogether. But recent research by Megan Gandy at West Virginia University shows that inclusive faith communities can be beneficial for both the physical and mental health of many in the LGBTQ+ community.

“(T)he joy of inclusion was a way to alter that stress, eliminate it and even heal from it […] LGBTQ+ people who were completely included in their faith communities experienced joy that they didn’t know was possible. It was a part of the research that really lifted up my spirits, and was even something that many participants wanted to share with other LGBTQ+ people who weren’t involved in a faith community but who wanted to be.”

Megan Gandy, BSW program director at the WVU School of Social Work

Click here for the full article

Re-setting Solo Pastor Expectations (Pastoria)

As the “Great Resignation” continues to accelerate, many clergy people are also finding that the tension between the vocation to which they feel called and the reality of expectations no longer align.

Simply put, it seems that the world of ministry has changed, but the rules of ministry have not kept up. This has made ministry unsustainable. And, pastors are willing to reject these terms.

James Kang, Pastoria

Click here for the full article

Stop Inviting People to Church (Relevant)

Is the point of following the way of Jesus to recruit members to church, or is it to have authentic friendships with people that actually influence the way they experience life? Preston Ulmer lists three good reasons why inviting people to church may not be the best way to invite them into an experience of the divine.

The followers of Jesus initiated the largest movement in the history of the world, and they did it without an invite card. They helped their followers experience lasting spiritual growth and a robust life in Christ, all without a Next Steps class. 

Preston Ulmer, Relevant Magazine

Click here for the full article

Feature image by Thought Catalog on Pexels.com

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