WN: In a Home Study Group, we have begun to study together a new book by Melissa Florer-Bixler: How to Have an Enemy: Righteous Anger and the Work of Peace.
The author is a writer and pastor with degrees from Duke University and Princeton Theological Seminary. Her ministry at Raleigh Mennonite Church has been featured in The Atlantic and Sojourners. She writes for Geez Magazine, Christian Century, and Anabaptist World, among others. She is the author of Fire by Night: Finding God in the Pages of the Old Testament. She lives with her husband and three children in Raleigh, North Carolina.
In our first discussion last night (of Chapter 1), “Who Is My Enemy,” there was much to chew on already, despite the obvious American context.
Then today, we again participated in the worship at Good Shepherd New York. So much of what we discussed last night is reflected in the sermon by Pastor Michael Rudzena. As if he had been listening in!
Below is a story of/and recorded interview with Michael Rudzena in 2019 by America Magazine | The Jesuit Review of Faith & Culture, an outstanding Magazine I’ve subscribed to for years. The interview is heartwarming, powerful about Church Unity, and about the Church’s call to a Ministry of the Ear (Pope Francis); done by America Jesuitical.
Following is the write-up.
“Walk together, work together, love each other.” That is how Pope Francis described the journey of building Christian unity in the 21st century. Michael Rudzena is walking that path as part of the John 17 Movement, an ecumenical group dedicated to responding to the prayer of Jesus that “all who believe in me be one.” Michael was born into a Catholic family that eventually found a new spiritual home in the Baptist church. Today, he is the founding pastor of Good Shepherd New York, a non-denominational church in New York City, and is part of a group of evangelical and Pentecostal faith leaders that has met with Pope Francis three times to advance “a communion of friendship and love.”
We asked Michael about his encounter with the pope, the internal diversity of the evangelical Christian community and the misconceptions Catholics have about evangelicals (and vice versa).
The video of today’s worship service is below. Michael’s sermon begins at about 24:40. I would urge you nonetheless to take in the whole service. Its simplicity is arresting; its liturgical music presentations, drawing on Good Shepherd Collective, are profoundly worshipful and beautifully produced; its sermons (usually by Michael Rudzena) uniquely impactful.
Little did we know that the Holy Spirit could vivify, bless, and challenge at such digital remove . . .
For worship leaders, the liturgical offerings are second to none.