Friday, May 18, 2012
Pilgrim Practices - A Review
Pilgrim Practices: Discipleship for a Missional Church by Kristopher Norris is book that posits “discipleship is primarily an identity and is formed and practices in and through the church community” (xvi). The way that one forms that identity is through pilgrimage and practice, ancient ways that can and should be renewed in the current social context. After identifying American hyper-individualism as a paradox to the church as the body of Christ and a communal path of missional discipleship as expressed in the book of James, Norris outlines eight pilgrim practices for discipleship: believing, listening, welcoming, committing, speaking wisely, witnessing, caring, and praying.
I resonated the most with Norris’ chapter on welcoming. Norris identifies hospitality as one of the issues with which the church has struggled the most and longest. Since Christianity became a dominant religion, it has struggled with how to treat the poor, as well as its role in fostering racism, sexism, heterosexism , and other –isms from which the greater culture suffers. I was particularly taken with his interpretation of James 2:1-8, where James states that a congregation should not favor a person “wearing …fine clothes” over dirty ones. Norris exegetes that the rich person is a wealthy politician that can do favorable things for the congregation and the poor person is pushed to the side because he can only bring himself and that is seen as a burden. Norris challenges us to look beyond alliances between church and state and the identities that society places on us and embrace the radical hospitality of Jesus, who insists that the poor are blessed and that the rich are on notice.