January was a month devoted to thinking about -- and praying from -- the essence of our Christian faith. We hope that our Westside Creed has become more meaningful to you through the process. As we end this series, we realize this month’s teaching is a call to a beginning, to move from the position of a centered faith into life itself. We are called to mission. Mission comes from the latin missio, which means “sent”. In the Christian understanding of things, we are sent from the place of secure Christian grace and belonging into a world which is anything but secure, and knows little of what it means to belong. So the end of our creed is the beginning of movement back into service and engagement. We discover that mission is the way we know God in the warp and woof of life itself, a knowledge that is never static or complete but always moving and growing and exploring. Mission is an energetic life.
In the biblical story, endings are beginnings. The principle and most glorious way we understand this is through the story of Jesus, for the end of his earthly life is the beginning of the new creation itself. What appears as the curtain drop on hope is actually the entrance into a whole new world of possibility. Christian faith tells us that endings are beginnings, that there is always more to know of God past the impossibilities of our circumstances. There is always more to be experienced of his love and grace. At the risk of being cliché, faith unlocks doors.
One of my favorite quotes in this regard comes from the end of the Chronicles of Narnia series, by CS Lewis. In the last book (The Last Battle), on the last page and final paragraph, we are ready for things to wrap up, for things to resolve. We are ready to say goodbye to Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edmond, and “close the book” on them. But the book won’t let us close anything.
And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at least they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. [CS Lewis, The Last Battle]
The surprise we discover at the end of the Narnia tales is that all we have experienced is only the prelude to a bigger story. And so it is with Christian faith and mission: although it has a long history, the biggest part of it lies ahead. It is an infinite tale of unimaginable wonder. Our creed is only the title page.
This weekend we begin a new series on the parables of Jesus, which we are calling How Will it End?: parables of the kingdom. We hope it will inspire you to gather up a few friends, brew some coffee, and talk about where this story is going.
See you this weekend at any of our four celebration options: Saturday Vespers at 6, Sunday mornings at 9:29 or 11:11, or Sunday night Un-edited Spirituality at 7 pm.