Thursday, April 01, 2010

8 Points of Progressive Christianity: A Sunshine Cathedral Lenten Study

GOOD FRIDAY Service at Sunshine Cathedral: 7:30 pm
EASTER SUNDAY Services at Sunshine Cathedral: 8 am, 9:30 am, & 11 am

Ash Wednesday
We Are Followers of Jesus.
We have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus.

The Church has so successfully made Jesus into a sacred symbol, it has often failed to adequately challenge its membership to follow Jesus’ example. Instead of being legalistic in Jesus’ name, we ought to recall how Jesus challenged religious legalism and affirmed those who legalism had excluded. Instead of taking the easy road of merely praising Jesus, we ought to follow his example of touching the untouchables, loving the unlovable, seeing the light of God in all people. We honor Jesus best not by what we say about him, but by following his example of working for justice, showing compassion, and being the love of God in action in our world. As progressive Christians we have found the life and teachings of Jesus to be the way of giving body to the presence of divine Love in our world.

Prayer Treatment
I am embracing and expressing the goodness of God as I follow Jesus’ message and example. Amen.

First Sunday of Lent
We Affirm Religious Pluralism
We can be faithful within our tradition even while respecting that other traditions are valid for those who are faithful within them.

We need to remember that the Christian tradition is diverse. It has never been an ideologically unified movement, and as the years/centuries/millennia have rolled on, the movement has become ever more diverse. As the Jesus movement began as a Jewish movement, we have obviously borrowed from Judaism (our “Old Testament”, the celebration of Pentecost, the messianic concept, etc.), but we have also borrowed from other traditions (some common Christian beliefs were borrowed from Persian Zoroastrianism; celebrating winter/Christmas and spring/Easter festivals were borrowed from European paganism; the “Logos” was borrowed from ancient Greek philosophy, etc.). And, as science has advanced, we’ve had to negotiate with, incorporate, and re-examine our stories and traditions in the light of scientific discoveries. Christianity is an evolving movement, touched by the cultures it has touched, borrowing from other traditions even while developing and reinterpreting its own. Faithfulness to our tradition doesn’t mean being intolerant of others; in fact, we owe much of what we are to other traditions. We are Christian not because there is no other way to be in relationship with God, but because we have found that the path leading to God that best meets our needs is the path we find demonstrated by Jesus (who taught, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”). We wouldn’t want people to condemn us for our faith; and so as followers of Jesus, we don’t condemn anyone else for theirs.

Prayer Treatment
I can be faithful within my tradition while loving and respecting others who are faithful within their own. Perhaps, we can even learn from one another. Amen.

Second Sunday of Lent
We Are Eucharistic.

We understand the sharing of bread and wine in Jesus’ name to represent God’s feast of unconditional love for all people.

At Sunshine Cathedral we practice an “open” Communion. We invite everyone to participate in Holy Communion regardless of who they are. One need not be a member of our church or any church to receive the sacrament. All are welcome, regardless of their beliefs or doubts, to participate in our symbolic feast of unconditional love. We share the one loaf and the common cup not because we all believe the same things, but because we are united in love. “God is Love and WHOEVER lives in love lives in God and God lives in them” (1 John 4.16).

Prayer Treatment
God is Love. Showing kindness is the way we recognize and honor the divine Presence in others. In the name of God, we celebrate an open Communion where all are welcome and all are loved. And so it is.

Third Sunday of Lent
We Are Inclusive
We invite all people to participate in our community and worship life without insisting that they become exactly like us. This inclusion applies to believers AND agnostics, conventional Christians AND questioning skeptics, women and men, those of ALL sexual orientations and gender identities, those of ALL races and cultures, those of all classes and abilities, and those who hope for a better world as well as those who have lost hope.

At Sunshine Cathedral, what holds us together isn’t a doctrinal statement or creed, but our willingness to support one another as we each follow our own path and grow at our own pace. We acknowledge the divine Spark in every individual and we affirm the sacred value of all people. Our unity isn’t based on what we oppose nor is it based on an unwillingness to think critically. Our unity isn’t a uniformity of opinion; our unity is the divine Love that dwells in every human heart. Beliefs come and go, but our commitment to practice love and kindness can sustain us throughout our lives. We are lovingly diverse and that is our strength.

Prayer Treatment
As we treat others the way we would like to be treated, we are recognizing and affirming the dignity and sacred value of every individual in our wonderfully diverse community. And so it is!

Fourth Sunday of Lent
We Are People of Action (Actions Speak Louder Than Words).

We know that the way we behave toward one another and toward others is the fullest expression of what we really believe.

Beliefs change. As we learn new information, meet new people, and have new experiences, our opinions evolve. At Sunshine Cathedral, we do ask people to believe in their own sacred value and in the sacred value of all people. But more than holding an opinion, what we are really asking is that we learn to treat ourselves lovingly and that we learn to treat others lovingly. When we give time, talent and treasure to our church and other good causes, when we show kindness, when we forgive someone, when we try again after a failure, when we use our voice, our vote, or our resources to promote fairness…we are living what we really believe. Progressive Christians live lives of hope, joy, fairness, and compassion…those faith actions do more for our world than mere theological opinions ever could.

Prayer Treatment
As I live joyously, love abundantly, and work for justice in my world, I am expressing my deepest, truest faith…a trust in the goodness of life and a desire for life’s goodness to be experienced by all people. Amen.

Fifth Sunday of Lent
We Are Seekers & Students of Truth
We find more grace in the SEARCH for understanding that we do in dogmatic certainty – more value in questioning than in absolutes.

Jesus said, “Seek and you will find.” As progressive Christians, we aren’t afraid to ask questions, nor are we arrogant enough to believe that any one tradition, book, or institution has a lock on truth. Dogma might help us feel secure, but it can also keep us from experiencing the joy of new discovery, new learning, and new revelations. Jesus, we will recall, challenged the leaders of his religious tradition and he offered new insights to the tradition itself. In fact, some people even considered Jesus to be a heretic. Heresy comes from a Greek word that means “act of choosing.” Jesus freely chose what he believed and how he would celebrate his beliefs. Followers of Jesus today also are free to choose. Others may call us heretics, and we can simply smile and agree. We can use reason, a variety of interpretations of scripture and tradition, as well as science, sociology, psychology, and our own creativity to explore the depths of the mystery of life. For the progressive Christian, the questions are more important than the answers, because there may always be new answers to discover and consider. We aren’t here to mindlessly obey what others claim to have discovered; we are here to fearlessly and honestly seek for ourselves and to enjoy our own discoveries.

Prayer Treatment
My honest questions are leading me to new discoveries all the time. I value the search, and I give thanks for the journey. Amen.

Sixth Sunday of Lent
We Are Called to Do Justice, Love Mercy, and Live Humbly (Micah 6.8)
We are a community dedicated to equipping our fellow members for the work we are called to do: striving for peace and justice among ALL people, protecting the environment, and offering hope to those Jesus called the “least” of his sisters and brothers.

Progressive Christians are followers of Jesus’ example. Jesus challenged the status quo. He loved the unlovable and touched the untouchables. He stood up to religious hypocrisy and he so empowered the marginalized that the imperial government saw him as a possible threat. His message of loving the enemy, forgiving offenders, and caring more for human dignity than for religious traditions or hierarchies and his understanding that the whole of scripture could be boiled down to loving all people and treating others the way we would like to be treated is the message we try to embrace and live out as Progressive Christians. More than venerating Jesus as a sacred symbol, we endeavor to follow Jesus’ example of justice-love. When we confront misogyny, racism, heterosexism/homophobia and when we work for peace, economic fairness, universal access to quality health care, child safety, elder care, peace, and environmental justice, we are the incarnation of the spirit of Jesus’ life-changing and world-changing message.

Prayer Treatment
God, in, through, and as each one of us is working to bring peace, hope, goodwill, and justice to our world. And so it is.

Maundy Thursday
We Are Generous
We recognize that being followers of Jesus is costly, and entails selfless love, conscientious resistance to evil, and renunciation of privilege.

Jesus’ Golden Rule was to treat others as we would wish to be treated. There is a Jewish tradition that says when a rabbi was challenged to teach the entire Torah while standing on one foot, the rabbi accepted the challenge, saying very simply, “What is hateful to you, do not do your neighbor. This is the message of the Torah. Everything else is simply commentary.” Leviticus 19.18 says, “love your neighbor as yourself.” Over and over, the message is clear: the spiritually mature are never concerned only with personal comfort, but with well-being, justice, compassion, and opportunity for all people. Whether people have been injured by poverty, homophobia, sexism, racism, unjust wars, abuse, neglect, or natural disaster, the progressive Christian responds with generosity, compassion, and goodwill.

Prayer Treatment
All people have sacred value. As a follower of Jesus, I recognize the holiness within each person as I endeavor to treat all people the way I would wish to be treated. Amen.

The Sunshine Cathedral is affiliated with The Center for Progressive Christianity (, whose mission is:
- To reach out to those for whom organized religion has proved ineffectual, irrelevant, or repressive, as well as to those who have given up on or are unacquainted with it.
- To uphold evangelism as an agent of justice and peace.
- To give a strong voice both in the churches and the public arena to the advocates of progressive Christianity.
- To support those who embrace the search, not certainty.

Join us for Good Friday and Easter services at Sunshine Cathedral.
1480 SW Ninth Ave, Ft Lauderdale, FL

No comments: