on being eccentric

In working on the sermon for Sunday on I Corinthians 13 I picked  Michael Gorman's book "Cruciformity: Paul's Narrative Spirituality of the Cross" off of my shelf. He has helpful thoughts on Paul's famous meditation on love that will surely inform the sermon.

But that is not the reason for this scribbled post. On page two Gorman writes this: "Paul's spiritual experience was not part of 'mainstream' religion, comfortably situated in the center of his social world. He was, rather well off-center - eccentric (literally, 'out of the center'). As Paul himself admitted, identifying with the cross made him and his colleagues into eccentrics, 'fools for the sake of Christ' (I Cor. 4:10)."

I wonder if the pilgrimage that I have been on in three decades of ministry is towards receiving and recovering an identity that is at home with eccentricity. Coming from a Christian denomination that had grown accustomed to thinking of itself as central in Canadian cultural life "eccentric" was not one of the words we favoured when identifying ourselves. We liked "relevant" or "on the cutting edge" or "contemporary". But the truth is, we are off-center - eccentric. Once we realize that the cruciform gospel inevitably forms an eccentric people it is much easier to relax into - even celebrate - this peculiar identity. Being salt for the earth inevitably leads to living as a distinctive, odd, eccentric community. I am getting used to it. Slowly.

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