In the Torah, the process for returning a leper back to the full community was an involved and multi-step process. It speaks to the celebration of one who has been cleansed.
In much of the modern-day church, the process of restoration is very stripped down, and there is very little in the way of process.
Many times, we come of the law and because we have one or several preachers’ voices yelling in our ears “you are not under the law but under grace” we our of respect to their vehement overapplication of Paul’s counsel, ditch several books’ worth of good teaching, reproof, correction, and training in rightousness, and instead we, with that ditching of counsel, we also have a radically stripped-down version of moving someone, who was separated from the community, back into the community. Our salvation mechanism by which others become entertwined with a household of faith, Roman Catholics, Anglicans Orthodox, and other high-church traditions excepted, has become a community-minimal-investment, five minute prayer at an altar with little deliberate celebration in the life of the church.
Frequently, anything that is more than this is treated as a nusiance by the church because we are not under the law but under grace, and so we do not have much material from which we pull real celebration of someone’s addition to the church.
One area where the Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox, and like sectors of the church get chatechism (discipleship and integration into the community) right is they draw out the process over the course of weeks and months, make much about someone’s first communion, involve the family, set out special clothing and rites for the occasion, and involve a number of individuals.
We we cut the law out, we cut out, for example, the passage on how lepers are reintroduced into the community.
In Torah, the leper was inspected several times, the priest made several pronouncements, a number of sacrifices were brought, the priest involved with his process left the camp and entered his space, blood was sprinkled on the leper seven times, cedarwod and hyssop were picked, birds were selected, and one of the birds was killed while the other bird was dipped in the sacrificed bird’s blood, that bird was released into the open field, and the leper was pronounced clean. His hair was shaved, and he was reintegrated back into the community.
Contrast that with someone who raises their hand to accept Jesus.
It is just left feeling a little thin.
And our modes for reconciling the backslidden believer are equally thin.
Gang, we have to do better. There could be more of a process that we engage in, so that our celebration more nearly matches that of the angels who rejoice.
I wonder, what that process would look like.
A celebration and a meditation and a retreat where a group of new converts takes away with a priest or rabbi or pastor to a place where they have connection of the deep truth of who G-d is as Father, who Jesus is as Husband, and who Holy Spirit is as Counsellor.
There has to be something more than what we currently do for many new believers.
Just some thoughts here.