This is an essay I wrote about Midrash for Shane’s email update for the River (our church). The article appeared a little different in the email because of some revisions. Personally, I prefer it without the revisions because I’m very particular in the words I choose. This short essay details what Midrash is and why it is a natural outpouring of my personality – I love engaging people in compelling conversations. Enjoy.
quick cigar recommendation – La Flor Dominicana – good smooth smoke. Available in mild and maduro selections.
For many centuries the church was a skillful potter shaping culture in regards to politics, the arts, education, and public commentary. Only recently has the church withdrawn from that craft and now views our culture with an “Us versus Them” mentality believing there is no hope for our culture. At the River Community Church we believe that line of thought runs contrary to God’s will and we do not believe it is “Us versus Them”. Instead, we believe we need to be integrated into our culture and redeem our culture for God’s glory. “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” – Matthew 6: 10. The main crux of the issue is as Christians we need to find ways to engage our culture in a compelling manner that makes sense and meets people where they are spiritually and socially.
Midrash. Such a quirky sounding word that most people think means some sort of contracted disease requiring a prescription for an antibiotic. Thank goodness that is not what it means. It is actually a Hebrew word that roughly means “commentary”. Our desire within Midrash is to engage various aspects of our culture in regards to the arts, media, politics, education etc and Midrash is the organization for different events that we hold under the umbrella of The River Community Church. Some of our events include: Theology on the Rocks, film nights, coffee shop discussions, art gallery viewings, and large panel forums. For example; at Theology on the Rocks we take what we believe to be compelling topics such as, violence in America, the pursuit of happiness, animal rights, and racism in Little Rock and host them in different restaurants and bars in Little Rock. It is held in a separate dining room to accommodate a group discussion and this allows people to share their thoughts and opinions on the topic. People want to talk about these topics but just have not had the opportunity. We provide the opportunity.
None of our events take place in a church building; primarily because Midrash exists for people who would never step foot in a church. We approach this in a manner similar to when Paul was in Athens (Acts 17: 16-34). When Paul was with the people he spoke to them in a context they understood and they appreciated which helped him build credibility. To the men in the synagogue and marketplace he held respectful, intelligent conversations and reasoned with them. To the idol worshippers in the Areopagus he spoke to them about who and why they worship what they worship. In Midrash, we realize the Bible is not an authority for people who do not believe in God and as such we want to be credible and speak to people about who and why they worship what they worship. To show them how their truth relates to God’s truth.
Basically, Midrash is at the heart of The River Community Church because we want to reach people where something inside them is stirring but they are not making a connection as to what is stirring (2 Corinthians 3: 16-18). Midrash recognizes that God’s people and creation are beautiful and at the same time fallen and we are called by God to redeem his creation for his glory (Genesis 1: 26-28). Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.