Tuesday, October 2, 2007

New Lenses

I'm having my annual eye exam in a few weeks. Blessedly, I had my eyes "fixed" a few years ago, with lasiks surgery, so I do not have to go through the agony of getting new lenses, as I have had to do since I was twelve or so. Contacts were great for most of the time, but my allergies created problems, making them foggy and unclear. Glasses, of course, can be cleaned more easily but fogged up every time I came in from the cold, or became spotted in the rain. The lesson for us is our environment can "fog our vision".

A group of Duke Divinity School students, having just returned from S. Africa for a two month immersion, discussed their experience recently. Hear Methodist minister and professor Ken Carder's reflection on what they learned:

Excellence in ministry requires new lens through which we can view ourselves, the world, the church, and God. Friendship and solidarity with those who see the world from its underside, its suffering and oppression, is one of the best ways to discover or develop a new and clearer lens into the gospel.

New lenses, however, can create tension and discomfort. They enable us to see what we couldn’t see before. They may expose realities that we would prefer remain hidden, such as our own complicity in the suffering and oppression of our sisters and brothers, or the inadequacies of our own presumed advantages and privileges, the finiteness of our own theological systems and perspectives, or the limitations of our comfortable assumptions about excellent ministry that exclude those whom Jesus called “the least of these.” (Ken Carder, "Sustaining Pastoral Excellence" newsletter)

Mybe it's time for a lot of us to get some new glasses.