Read an Excerpt
Living the Heart of ChristianityA Guide to Putting Your Faith into Action
By Marcus J. Borg
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Marcus J. Borg
All right reserved.
The Heart of Christianity in a Time of Change
Welcome to this community of exploration and learning. In each of our sessions, a passage of scripture will be included in the opening time. In this first session, we will read a story of two people who long ago went on a journey quite similar to the one on which we are embarking. They accompany one another on a journey of uncertainty, even as they hold on to their desire to be passionate believers.
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?"
They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?"
He asked them, "What things?"
They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leadershanded him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him."
Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.
They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?"
That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Think about the following questions:
1. When I hear the word "Christianity," I have this reaction . . .
2. Based on what attracted me here, I think that this course could make this kind of difference at this time in my life . . .
If you are using this workbook in a group, please read the purpose statements below. It is important that we be clear about the purpose of the program and some of the principles by which we will order our time as a community of learners, as outlined below:
Living the Heart of Christianity
To gather in Christian community, allowing ourselves to be challenged, taught, and inspired by Marcus Borg, so that we might pursue our way of faith with passion, heart, and intellect.
1. Even though our focus is study and discussion, we are first and foremost a community of faith. We will live our twelve sessions together as an intentional community, including in our life together prayer, ritual, hospitality, and accompaniment. There will be an obvious congruence between what we are addressing in the book and how we meet together.
2. Assuming that in this community of learners there is a diversity of people in terms of faith practice, biblical and theological knowledge, association with the Christian tradition, commitment to the Way of Jesus, and relationship with God, we will practice disciplines of inclusiveness, nonjudgment, and openness to learning from differences.
3. Every session will stand on its own so that if participants happen to miss a session, they can spend time in personal study of that chapter and not miss the content, even though they will miss the community learning process.
4. We will exercise a discipline of focusing on the content of the chapter of the week, not jumping ahead to future chapters, even when there may be a connection to the discussion of the session. The program will be cumulative; as we go, we will be aware of a growing body of communal learning to which we can make reference.
5. Marcus Borg is the one providing the shape and content of the course. Within the framework of concepts, ideas, and story that he provides, we will add our own content. The facilitator will take responsibility for the process of each session, inviting participants to make requests, give feedback, and take initiatives as appropriate.
6. Inevitably, as we consider matters of such significance to our lives, we may find ourselves wishing to be in conversation with a faith or spiritual companion outside the session time. Participants are encouraged to follow through on this whenever they feel the urge to do so. This may be with church staff, with friends in the program, or with other companions outside the program.
7. When people share important aspects of their lives, they can be assured that those things will be held in confidence by the rest of the group members.
Excerpted from Living the Heart of Christianity by Marcus J. Borg Copyright © 2006 by Marcus J. Borg. Excerpted by permission.
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