by Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Moving from the economic to the political centre of Canada has me asking some questions about how to get on remixing things in a slightly different context. Ottawa isn’t really worlds apart from Toronto (tho any federal bureaucrat working outside of the Ottawa bubble might disagree), and yet there is a different flavour to this town.
It’s a more car-oriented city. It’s harder to recycle. There’s no such thing as a green-bin to easily dispose of our organic waste. And living in an apartment, there’s nowhere to compost. At the same time, there are more green spaces, a lot of great trails for walking and biking, and the air is so much more clean.
Where on earth will we shop without our regular local-organic farmer’s market? There’s got to be something like that here, right? There are other questions, too, about how to contextualise the gospel in our particular west-end neighbourhood, what parts of this culture we accept, and what parts we push back on. And these are questions I suppose we should always be asking
Brian’s post on Friday stirred up some further thoughts. As someone new to a particular context, what questions or prophetic insights can we raise in that context, and with what legitimacy?
Now I know that there has been a lot of recent blog traffic around questions of contextualisation. Tall Skinny Kiwi deals with many of those questions in a recent Three Part Series addressing some rather *interesting* comments from John MacArthur and others.
His link to John Morehead’s interview with Steve Hu was also helpful in pointing to Newbigin’s insights into contextualisation and syncretism. Sometimes we will take on parts of the new culture. Sometimes we won’t.
Newbigin’s writings are essential to further understanding what it is to live out the gospel in western culture. Our relationship to the culture(s) in which we live is something we must always struggle with as we seek to authentically enflesh, and thereby communicate the gospel. Even as we move from Toronto to Ottawa. Or wherever…
But I suppose what I want to get back to is the idea of incarnating the gospel in my particular context, especially this current context where I find myself a stranger in a foreign land. Ottawa, for me, is such a place. I know very few people here. And yet each of us is called to live and minister wherever we are.
What does that mean for someone who is new to a particular city? I keep on asking the questions, I keep on wondering, and know that in time the specifics will become more apparent. But for now – for now everything’s a little bit murky.
Love God. Love neighbour. Then what?