The Pastor's Buzz

Pastor Buzz Trexler's blog for God's people in The Meadow.

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Name: Buzz Trexler
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Journalist for 29 years; married to Donna for 28 years; parent of David, 27, and Elizabeth, 24; pastor of Green Meadow United Methodist Church in Alcoa since 2002.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The vine and vintage Christianity ...

vin­tage \vint-ij\ adj 1 : of old, recognized, and enduring interest, importance, or quality : CLASSIC … 3 : of the best and most characteristic – used with a proper noun <~Shaw: a wise and winning comedy -- Time >
From Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, 1972, G&C Merriam Co.

You could say those are two vintage definitions of the word vintage.

Consider that they are both endearing and enduring when you ponder what it means to say we are journeying toward vintage faith. To be specific, the church should be journeying toward vintage Christianity.

With forests of trees being sacrificed on the altar of Christian bookstores as authors such as Brian McLaren and Dan Kimball struggle to get a handle on this thing called the "emerging church," it begs the question of what are the characteristics of "vintage" Christianity — again, to be specific, "the best and most characteristic."

We can certainly consider those things that Jesus thought important to be part and parcel of vintage Christianity. Without engaging in proof-texting, we might even agree that Jesus:

  • taught us to love one another;
  • taught us to forgive one another;
  • taught us to engage in acts of mercy, charity, healing and reconciliation;
  • taught us to sacrifice for one another;
  • taught us that no one comes to the "Father" except through the "Son," and that we are to be born again;
  • taught us that we are to worship in spirit and in truth;
  • and gave us the Sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism, and the washing of one another’s feet as an expression of servant humility.

Undoubtedly, vintage Christianity includes more than those attributes, but one has to start somewhere … and that somewhere would seem to be with Jesus Christ.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

Thus, the defining word on vintage Christianity is found in the vine.

A secondary aspect would be the inclusion of vintage traditions that reflect an authentic connection to the vine. Certainly such traditions could include, but would not be limited to, the recitation of creeds, ancient prayers, meditations and even liturgical celebrations. In short, classical Christianity.

If we stopped there, however, one would have to ask, "What is the difference between traditional communities and that of the movement toward vintage Christianity that we find in the emerging church today?" The answer is threefold:

  • There is the embracing of those vintage characteristics, but expressing them in the creative, multisensory experiences we have available today.
  • There is the understanding that the expression of vintage faith is not a once-a-week experience, but that which takes the missio dei — God’s mission, his expression of love — into the church of the every day.
  • There is the knowledge that the role of clergy in the emerging church is that of function and not title; of one who is a fellow pilgrim on the journey. Each pilgrim — clergy and laity alike — offers his or her own gifts and passions to the missio dei.

Each are connected to the vine, and the fullest expression results in a missional fellowship. That, sisters and brothers, is vintage faith.

Would you like to share a cup?