You are probably aware that the Hebrew word ‘shalom’ and Arabic ‘salem’, means much more than
peace. The biblical picture is of harmony, wholeness, integratedness; in a word, flourishing. Ironic,
isn’t it, that Hebrew and Arabic share the same word, the same blessing as greeting, given the pain
and division that exists between those who speak these languages. We are reminded by the news
just how far apart most Arab and Jewish people are. This is just one example of dangerous division in
society; consider issues of race, gender, politics, wealth, social media…..
What does shalom look like in a polarised world?
What about third space?
Third spaces are places and people that create bridges and allow those separated to listen, learn and
journey together. When people chose to step into third space they do not abandon who they are.
Not at all. Because they are settled in who they are, they are willing to humble themselves and take
the other seriously.
As we celebrate 40 years of God’s faithfulness to OCMS, I suggest that OCMS has consistently sought
to develop third space. In the early years our founders refused the restrictions of fundamentalist
evangelicalism and liberalism. Instead they created a third space provided by majority world
theologians focused on mission as transformation.
Over the years, OCMS has provided third space in all kinds of ways:
Academic and practitioner
Global south and north
Evangelical, yet embracing friendships with other Christian traditions including mainline
denominations, Orthodox, Catholic and Pentecostals – who cut across them all.
I wonder where third spaces will be needed most in the next decades?
Gender, migration, those separated by geopolitics, economic; these and more I imagine.
Thanks for journeying with OCMS into third spaces.