Walking Our Faith: The view depends on where you’re standing – duct tape part four
Walking Our Faith
Last week, I met Liliana Stahlberg, pastor of Lord of the Mountains Church, for coffee at Amazing Grace. It was snowing heavily in my Blue River neighborhood, and being a nervous driver, I was 45 minutes late. Thankfully, Liliana waited and I’m grateful for her patience and our conversation.
When I began this series on the Bible, I sent out an email to local church leaders asking them to share a paragraph or two on why they felt reading the Bible was an important part of our spiritual lives. I received several responses from local pastors and have been sharing them with you. Liliana sent in her response twice, and then asked to meet for coffee for a fuller explanation.
I’ve profiled Pastor Liliana in this column, and we’ve met a few times over the past two years. She is a remarkable woman with a ministry that is geared toward community outreach which reflects her early life in Romania, and her decades of work there and in America working with orphans and the homeless.
As we talked over coffee, I realized we have different views of the Bible, as reflects the differences in our backgrounds. Where I see the Bible as a source for personal salvation and spiritual growth, Liliana might say the Bible is also a source for action, to right inequities in society. Our conversation was eye-opening for me and I am still thinking about it.
And that is exactly how I believe the Holy Spirit works when we open the door to hear the voices of other people.
When I write this column, I view it as an evolving conversation with God. Evolving not because God changes, God is I AM, the alpha and omega. But because I am changing. Hopefully, growing in my understanding of God.
But my walk of faith is an interior one. Reflecting my desire to better love God, to better know God, it is a contemplative journey. And so, when I read the Bible, I encounter God within its pages as a conversation. A dialogue which evolves as I become more aware of the Holy Spirit.
After Liliana and I had spoken for an hour, I had my first view of the Bible as oriented outward toward the world. She spoke about the ways in which the Bible has been used to repress or rally the oppressed throughout history.
Liliana’s views are remarkable and while I do not entirely share them, I believe they are timely and contain the seeds for discussion and action not only in the wider world, but in Summit County.
When we see the Bible, especially the teachings of Jesus Christ, as a means for personal transformation through salvation, and then community transformation through service, we create opportunities to become the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in the world.
I’ve asked Liliana to share her view, in her own words…
“And Jesus unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: / ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, / because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor / He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, / to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’” ( Luke 4: 17-19)
The Bible is a collection of “dangerous” books, especially the writing of the New Testament, when in the hands of the disenfranchised, the very people whose company Jesus enjoyed.
When rightly interpreted in their historical, social and political contexts, the life and teachings of Jesus become a radical manifesto helping the poor ask for their rightful share of earthly goodness. When placed in the hands and hearts of the “wretched of the earth,” the Gospel of Jesus is indeed living up to its name, being the good news to the poor.
In the good Roman Catholic tradition of Liberation Theology, the Gospel has the power to lead the poor and the oppressed to stop believing in the sentimental messages about how they are going to enjoy riches in the afterlife that their priests try to impose on them, and begin to realize that God wants justice for them on this earth, where God’s abundance needs to be shared among all of God’s children.
They begin to live the life of Jesus, through nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience. They practice the teachings of Liberation Theology, a movement in the Roman Catholic Church in the 20th century in Latin America. The movement was squelched by the authorities of the Roman Catholic Church, who saw their privileges threatened.
One of the martyrs of this movement, Dom Helder Camara, a Brazilian Archbishop, famously said, “When I give food to the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”
I hope you are learning as much as I am and are more inspired to open your Bible and read. The “Duct Tape” series on the Bible will continue for another week and then we’ll head into Lent and continue our walk of faith.
Suzanne lives in Breckenridge and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her books can be found at the Next Page Books and Nosh in Frisco.
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