When's the last time you've identified yourself as a Christian to a stranger or acquaintance?
It's a tricky situation because you have no idea what their experience or definition is of Christianity. Are they incredibly conservative or liberal politically? Are they from the West Coast, Midwest or South of the US? Do they have a very religious family member or a parent who's a pastor? It feels like the term "Christianity" requires so much explanation that it's not even useful in expressing faith anymore.
I don't know if this is a new phenomenon or not. I do know that when I was younger I had no qualms about telling a stranger or acquaintance that I was a Christian and I had no doubts that they knew exactly what I meant by that.
Maybe it was youthful ignorance.
Maybe it was a product of the rural part of California I was from.
Maybe it was a different time in the history of Christianity in this country.
Whatever it was, this shift for me personally has led to larger questions about the nature of Christianity and the nature of Christian churches in the United States. How did the "Good News" of Jesus become an identifier that required further explanation?
The easy answer is that it's a cultural problem with people who don't understand who Jesus is and they hate the good news we have because of the devil inside of them.
The harder answer may be that American Christianity has distorted the "Good News" to the point that's it's only good for some people. The reason why identifying yourself as a Christian can require qualifiers is that people wonder if your practice of Christianity is one more marked by violence than peace.
This week we want to reflect on an ancient story of rebuilding an old wall to ask about the value of reclaiming something that was, instead of starting over somewhere else. The hope is that we'll learn something new about Cascade, Christianity and journey's of faith.