On ecology, we realized that if God, out of love for the world was incarnate in the human Jesus, and if God raised him as a further sign of love for creation, then matter – and not just human bodies – really matters to God, and should matter to us too. With our liberal Christian neighbors then, our community made the environment a priority and found ourselves agreeing with ecological theologians like John Cobb, who in commenting on the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:26 and 10:31 writes, “if a man is worth many sparrows then a sparrow’s worth is not zero.”
On community, we noticed that Jesus’ 1st century movement of men and women disciples was grounded in the proclamation of the basileia tou theou, perhaps best translated as ‘commonweal of God.’ This politically subversive hope was based on a vision of God’s future for the world, bringing freedom from domination at every level of society. In response, we sought to shape our faith community on the commonweal vision of Jesus as a sign of this hopeful future – a scandalizing alternative to Caesar, emphasizing equality, mutuality, and inclusiveness. We found ourselves embracing what feminist theologians like Elizabeth Johnson called Jesus’ ‘inclusive table community’, which “widens the circle of friends of God to include the most disvalued people, even tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes.”
Sometimes following Jesus gets you into trouble, which our church experienced at times when we started to look ‘liberal.’ But this is no surprise to those of us who try to faithfully follow the crucified one. There is nothing easy about this way of justice and community, but it is right if we believe that as the incarnation of the Word, Jesus reveals the inner logic of things, the grain of the cosmos itself.