Archive for Church

Community is not a meeting

Community-internshipsThe holy grail of church planting in my opinion is the building of a community. The way we traditionally do this is by planning activities in our church buildings and we put on meetings. That is we create structured environments in which people can meet and greet. I am not saying there is anything wrong with community building activities and structured meetings that have a purpose. But once again we must not confuse the finger pointing to the moon for the moon itself.

The meeting, the activity that we use to promote the sense of community is like the scaffolding you put up when you build a house. Once the house is built the scaffolding should come down. Community then is what happens between the meetings and activities. It is all the ways we are tied together and our lives are entwined in every ordinary moment. It is having someone to call when we are alone, it is meeting in the streets and deciding to have a spontaneous coffee. It is sharing meals together on weeknights, it is the children playing together in the park.

The community can be built around a church activity or a weekly gathering, but the community should transcend the structure become organic and have a life of it’s own. I think if you can point to it and say this is it there is our community, then you have missed it or rather reduced it to something structured when in fact community is organic, it is messy, it is life it is the web of all our relationships it is our utter interdependence made manifest.

To me it is the true purpose of church to create a community within which we can be safe enough to be vulnerable and be transformed by love.

Church is not an adress

bethechurch325x303In evangelical circles we keep saying this, Church is the people not the building, but do we really understand it? The word church comes from the german kirche which in turn comes from the greek word kurios meaning lord. So the word church means “those who belong to the lord”, well you could of course make it mean houses belonging to the lord but that would be rather stretching it. When Jesus proclaims to Peter “on this rock I will build my church”, he is actually not saying the word church, it didn’t exist. He also did not say Synagogue which would have been the contemporary term. No, Jesus uses the word ekklesia which means gathering, assembly, coming together.

The gospels report Jesus saying where two or more are gathered, Paul states your body is the temple! It is that simple. Every person you meet is a temple housing the holiest of the holy. Everywhere you look you will see temples housing divine love, the source of life. “one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Eph 4.6)

Church then, can be everywhere at once, all the time. It is a way of being or maybe a way of seeing, where every person you meet is holy, every place you set your foot is holy ground. In the Salvation Army we call this the sacramental life, where everything and everyone is an outward sign of an inward grace.

Church is with you, within you and also with me, within me. When we meet we can be church together and honour the divine source within each other. We can be a living sacrament in the world, living the love of the divine, manifesting or incarnating god in the everyday-everyplace.

Do not go to church, be church wherever you go.

God is not a belief system

IMG_1117It is a simple truth really: god is god. God is not what we believe of god. God is not our theology or our doctrines. Since the dawn of time humans have had various ideas, religions, doctrines, theologies about god. God has remained god all that time. I will not say that god is unchanging, because I believe that god is love and love is a relational term, any living relation involves anyone involved in the relation changing in response to the other. So have we changed in response to the divine source, so has the divine source changed in response to our devotion, love and creativity. But having said that, our theologies and doctrines do not change the nature or the will of the divine.

Augustine said: If you have understood it, then it is not god. Anselm described god as always being more, greater, deeper than anything that we can imagine. Scripture supports this and shrouds the divine into mystery making sure that we can never nail down god (the popular joke is that we tried to nail god to a cross and he walked away). Faith and what the author of John calls eternal life (aionos zoe) cannot be grasped with the mind or the intellect. Forever it eludes even our most creative attempts.

No matter how much we would like to have god in a box, so that we could explain the divine, so that we can master the ultimate reality and explain the metaphysical in scientific terms, Jesus simply asks us to believe and follow. To believe is not as many people think to have a set of propositional statements that you hold true, rather believing is the act of trusting, loving in the absence of hard proof. You simply cannot believe with only your mind, you must be/love with your heart and your spool and your strength (body?) and your mind.

It is not up to me to tell you how it is, but I take this time to try to point at how it isn’t. The finger pointing to the moon must not be mistaken for the moon. In the same manner our theology, our doctrine, our tradition, our religion must not be confused with the divine. The divine is love, the divine is free the divine is not, in the words of C.S. Lewis, a tame lion.

The things Pope Francis did not say…

francisThe last couple of days there has been a post circulating on the internet with a bunch of statements allegedly made by the current Pope. People are upset that a pope would say such things (although he didn´t) and what it would mean for Christianity at large. Other people are praising the Pope for these statements sharing their relief that, here we have at least one pope that makes sense.

Now let me be clear, the Pope did not say these things, the statements are said to have been made at Vatican III a convention that has yet to happen.

So why write anything about something that is not real? Well, the contents of the Popes speech echo what is already going around in many Christian circles and for some this is fundamental Christian faith. In other Christian circles it is the ultimate heresy. So regardless of the veracity this “speech” that never happened lands in the middle of the current theological discourse.

There is no literal hellfire

“Through humility, soul searching, and prayerful contemplation we have gained a new understanding of certain dogmas. The church no longer believes in a literal hell where people suffer. This doctrine is incompatible with the infinite love of God. God is not a judge but a friend and a lover of humanity. God seeks not to condemn but only to embrace. Like the fable of Adam and Eve, we see hell as a literary device. Hell is merely a metaphor for the isolated soul, which like all souls ultimately will be united in love with God.”

This is not a novel idea and has been circulating in Christian discourse as long as there has been a Christian faith. The idea of a literal hellfire is a medieval idea based more on the works of Dante and Milton then the bible. Please note that the statement does not in any way dismiss the reality of hell but rather dispels the belief in hellfire and hell as a place of punishment, like C.S. Lewis wrote and Rob Bell, N.T. Wright and many others have echoed, hell is not a flaming furnace but the isolation from god, something that is not only an issue of the afterlife but a reality in the here and now.

Adam and Eve is a fable

Like the fable of Adam and Eve, we see hell as a literary device. Hell is merely a metaphor for the isolated soul, which like all souls ultimately will be united in love with God.

Here the article touches on the idea that the first narratives in our scriptures are not historical facts but mythical narrative written to teach us about who god is, what it means to be human and what our relationship to the divine is and can be. The use of the word fable is apt as we indeed have a talking snake in Genesis 3. I will return to the idea of biblical authority further down in the article. We need to at least face the fact that our two creation stories in Genesis do not line up neatly and cannot both be literally true. We would do well to recognise that the creation myths of the Judeo-Christian scriptures are not factual historical documents and does not answer the question “how?” but rather tries to give us a hint at “why?”

God changes constantly

“God is changing and evolving as we are, For God lives in us and in our hearts. When we spread love and kindness in the world, we touch our own divinity and recognize it.

The idea of a god that changes and evolves is very much presented in scripture in fact it is more present than the idea of the “changeless one”. As evangelicals we are prone to say things like it´s not a religion it´s a relationship as we believe in the idea that we can have a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. Furthermore we believe that god is love and love also implies relationship. How can we believe in a relational god if we do not believe that both parties in this relation can change. Only death is static, changeless. Life is constant change and growth, why can this not be true of god as well? How can we at the same time argue for a literal reading of scripture and then ignore the countless passages in the bible where god changes gods mind and gods plans?

All religions are true

“All religions are true, because they are true in the hearts of all those who believe in them. What other kind of truth is there? In the past, the church has been harsh on those it deemed morally wrong or sinful. Today, we no longer judge. Like a loving father, we never condemn our children. Our church is big enough for heterosexuals and homosexuals, for the pro-life and the pro-choice! For conservatives and liberals, even communists are welcome and have joined us. We all love and worship the same God.”

I think this is the most upsetting statement of all the ideas presented in this short text. And while I agree in principle I would have liked the statement to read “there is truth in all religions”. C.S. Lewis famously said “Just because we are right, does not mean that everybody else is wrong”. To believe that Christian faith and doctrine is the only truth is a fallacy as there are countless variations of Christian belief and various different truth claims. If there was only one truth and Christians possessed it, then all Christian churches would preach and teach the same thing. However the reality is that we are sometimes so varied in our description of this truth that we may as well be different religions. I think we need to be at least a little suspicious when we believe that there is only one truth and we (as in our little group of Christians) have it. The text actually makes clear that the church’s mission or mandate is to include all, including the ones that have a different take on truth than us.

The Authority of the Bible

The Bible is a beautiful holy book, but like all great and ancient works, some passages are outdated. Some even call for intolerance or judgement. The time has come to see these verses as later interpolations, contrary to the message of love and truth, which otherwise radiates through scripture. In accordance with our new understanding, we will begin to ordain women as cardinals, bishops and priests. In the future, it is my hope that we will have a woman pope one day. Let no door be closed to women that is open to men!

In my opinion this is the key issue, the question that we all come back to over and over again. If there is one question that the church must face, wether Catholic or Protestant, Orthodox, evangelical or emergent, it is this one. The place of the scriptures in our faith community. If we cannot re-evaluate how we have historically interpreted some passages to be literal and others not, then we can never as a church or faith community grow. In many conservative circles we have come to worship our tradition (and/or the bible) rather than god. And we state blindly that god does not change neither does our understanding of scripture. The reality looks different, we have time and time again revised our understanding of scripture and tradition and changed how and why we act and believe in certain ways. In some liberal circles we have gone the other way and tossed out all tradition and historical understanding, changing things that may not have needed revision, just to make a clean break with the old.

It is my opinion that we need a far more sensitive and humble approach where we tread softly, recognise that we have always interpreted our scriptures and our faith through cultural lenses, some good and some bad. It must be the work of every generation to return to these scriptures and traditions and carefully re-evaluate and re-imagine what it is to be a follower of the way in our time and place.

So whether Pope Francis said these things or not is rather irrelevant (at least outside of Catholic circles), I for one would have loved to hear this speech made by a Pope or any other religious leader. We need this conversation in all of Christendom, and we need to be able to converse with love and charity, humility and grace.

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6.8 NRSV)

Jesus was not a Christian!

gandhiIt may seem an obvious statement for anyone who, like me, have studied the scriptures at any depth. Jesus was a Jew and most Christians would readily admit this fact. But as obvious as it may be we still tend to think of Jesus as a Christian, because, lets face it what else would he be? He founded Christianity, didn’t he?

  • Etymologically it doesn’t make any sense
    Christian means little Christ or Christ-like. Jesus was Christ and cannot be Christ-like or a smaller version of himself. If Jesus looked in the mirror his mirror image could possibly be called Christian, likeness of Christ.
  • Jesus did not go to church every Sunday
    Since Jesus was Jewish he would have gone to a synagogue on Saturday if he went to any service at all.
  • Jesus did not tithe
    Tithing is an old testament temple tax, one that Jesus as far as we know, did not subscribe to.
  • Jesus did not submit to any authority
    The only authority Jesus submitted to was to god whom he called Abba (Father) therefore Jesus did not submit to any priestly hierarchy. The only other authority Jesus submitted to was love and as we know god is love and therefore following Jesus example would be to be ruled by love.
  • Jesus did not conform
    Jesus lived in this world but not according to societal, cultural or religious norms and rules. Jesus lived connected to his true divine nature and responded to each moment as it required, not by pre-written or conceived rules.
  • Jesus did not pray to himself
    This may again be stating the obvious but Jesus did not pray “Dear Jesus” or “Lord” prayers. Jesus teaches us to pray like him “Father” prayers using the hebrew word Abba which is more like papa or daddy.
  • Jesus did not sing songs to himself
    We do not know how Jesus worshipped but if he did sing (and it is a good guess that he did) it was probably Jewish psalms and liturgy.
  • Jesus did not preach from the bible
    This is a tricky one. We do not have much of Jesus teaching preserved, but in what we do have, he only refers to the scriptures occasionally. Jesus (and the gospel writes) often assumes familiarity with scripture, which in Jesus case would mean the Torah and the prophets. His teaching is not based on exegesis, instead Jesus teaches about the kingdom of god as a reality here and now, he explains it with stories and parables of his own.
  • Jesus knew he was human
    One of Jesus most used names for himself was “son of man” or “son of Adam” this literally means child of the earth (Adama means from earth or from the soil). Jesus knew he was from here, from this planet, this existence. and he knew he belonged here. One could say that Jesus was more human than most of us. He shows us what it means to be human and how to live out our humanity to the fullest. The only reason Jesus left was so that we would not make “it” all about his person but rather about his essence, Jesus true self that was one with god. So that “his spirit” would be present everywhere, with everyone.
  • Jesus knew he was divine
    Jesus knew that he was in this world but not of this world. He was aware that his true nature, his essence was one with god. And so he lived a life with no separation between himself and the divine.
  • Jesus did not “plant a church”
    Jesus did not select a single place to stay or start a church, he knew that the gospel is a message for everyone regardless of locality, ethnicity, culture or religion.
  • Jesus did not write a book 
    As a wisdom teacher he must have understood that any book written by him would be treated as divinity and applied in situations where it did not apply. So he did not write one, he also did not tell his disciples to write one.
  • Jesus did not supply any theological or doctrinal teaching
    Cemented doctrines and creeds are not fluid enough to be applicable to the messiness of life. So Jesus responded to all theological questions with story or parable where revelation happens in interpretation.

  • Jesus did not subscribe to the sacred/secular divide 
    Jesus treated everything, everyone and everyplace as sacred. Wherever he could he erased the imaginary boundary between sacred and secular.
  • Jesus Believed in you
    Jesus saw things as they truly where and confronted religious and spiritual ignorance and celebrated life and humanity. He would empower and lift ordinary people up, set them free and have faith in the ordinary person, the outcast and anyone who “had ears to hear and eyes to see”

If we are to be Christian (little Christ) or even Christ-like we actually need to, in many ways break with organised Christianity as it is in many places an institutionalised religion much like the one that Jesus again and again spoke out against.

The question is what would Christianity without religion or Christianity without the church look like. What if we where to return to being followers of the way rather than Christians?

We need to cuddle more!

Armandoa_TheEmbrace_webWe all know we need closeness, connection and human touch, here are ten reasons why we should intentionally introduce embracing, hugging and cuddling as a practice in our lives. After you read this post of why, think about how you will implement the art of long embraces and cuddles in your daily life and community.

This post is not written by me but happily pirated from This site

A Happier Life

We’ve all seen the self-help books and heard about the ways to make our lives a little happier, however the best thing for you is absolutely free. Cuddling, especially for an extended time lifts serotonin levels. An imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that leads to depression so by raising these levels, you’ll also elevate mood and help create happiness.

Healing Touch

Cuddles and hugs can heal many ills, including the feelings of a broken heart. By holding your broken-hearted friend, you can actually help them to overcome their problems as an embrace can instantly boost Oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is known to affect feelings like anger, loneliness and grief, so next time your friend is at their low point, just being there really may be all they need.

To Give & Receive

Cuddling teaches us how to share and care for one another. Studies have shown that children who were cuddled more tend to be more selfless in their actions and with their possessions and are generally more friendly. It is believed to be attributed to the embrace, which teaches us how to receive love to share in equal measure.

Tension Reliever

Have a stressful day? Well, tonight would be a good time to cuddle with someone you love. Ever notice how you could have the worst possible day where you get laid off, have a fender bender, or learn sad news about a loved one, and just being in the arms of your honey can make all of the pain go away? Cuddling is a natural stress-reliever as it relaxes muscles, releases tension, increases overall circulation and even soothe your aches.

Boosts Self-Esteem

We all have those “ugly” days when we just don’t feel good about ourselves. The act of a simple hug can instantly boost self-esteem. As infants and children, we rely on our family’s touch to show us that we’re special to them and the associations of self-worth from those early years are embedded into our nervous system as adults.

Helps Rebuild Immunity

Our immune systems can be affected by some interesting factors but did you know something as simple as touch can make a difference? Cuddling actually helps to strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge stimulates the thymus gland (which regulates the body’s production of white blood cells) which affects our overall health. Cuddling those you love can help keep you both healthy and rebuild immunity after an illness.

Energy Exchange

Long hugs or leaning on someone’s shoulder can be as effective as cuddling. When people touch, there is an exchange of energy between the two. This is only amplified the more one is touched and the effects are more positive depending on the relationship between the individuals. So for couples in love, you can actually help revitalize your partner or a hug from a friend can refresh you both. That energy exchange acts as an investment between the two that can be drawn from later in literal and sensory memory.

Creating Balance

Cuddling may not seem necessary but it is one of the best ways to help balance out the nervous system. Our skin responds to being embraced or embracing others. The effect is believed to put our skin in a more balanced state and do the same with the entire nervous system. This is part of the reason infants respond well to being cuddled and held closely, it affects us positively from the time we are born.

It Builds Trust

Having an issue with open communication in your relationship? Many couples struggle with this over time. You may have also noticed that there has been less physical contact. The two go hand-in-hand as an intimate touch can result from good communication, but did you know cuddling can help create good communication? More than anything, cuddling builds trust. The more you touch, the easier it becomes to trust each other. The nurturing feeling of cuddling helps to build a sense of safety and happiness.

Connecting in the Moment

Cuddling teaches us to connect with one another in the moment. It disrupts our usual thinking long enough to connect feelings, touch and even breathing pattern. This creates intimacy and helps to encourage our sensory memory in a favorable way towards the person being cuddled. Similar to meditation, cuddling encourages us to flow with the natural connections of life, most of which are made on the spot but can be maintained though sensory memory.

Why authentic Christianity must fail

AuthenticChristianityA depressing title I know, but please bear with me and hear me out. After four years in a church plant where we desperately are trying to model and live out an authentic Christianity at the same time as we are trying to build a church community, I have come to realise that authentic christianity is the worst church growth tool ever.

We live in a materialistic post-secular society and although there is an awakening to spirituality, it is more often than not to a self-help, self realising spirituality that without proper grounding and deep reflection promotes the ego instead of deconstructing it.

The church culture from my vantage point is one deeply influenced by early 20th century imperialism where we still work with top down hierarchical structures and our understanding of god and spiritual power/energy is structured the same way. We still believe that we are to conquer the world with the gospel and that the world will at some point kneel in front of god’s throne in subservience. We propagate an image of god seen in C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia with princess and princesses and god as the all powerful emperor across the sea. This emperor who will at some point return and conquer all.

From this imperialistic point of view building large churches and converting people to the proper/right way of seeing things is a natural fit. However, the more I read of Jesus ministry I see a different image and most importantly a different way of being authentically christian.

First of all the power behind authentic Christianity is a weak inviting force, not a conquering strong force. Jesus models a self emptying, loving, servanthood as way of life. He chooses a donkey not a white war-horse to ride into Jerusalem, he washes the feet of the disciples and he gives himself up to the cross. None of these actions are either aggressive nor do they fit into the profile of a conqueror. Jesus stands at the door and knocks, and waits for an opportunity to enter, he does not break the door down, neither with physical force or strong arguments.

It’s an invitation not a persuasion. Jesus does not spend time persuading people or arguing doctrines, he simply says come follow me. Some do, others don’t, that’s the end of it.

Secondly, an authentic Christianity, being invitational, cannot manipulate or cajole anyone into attendance or adherence. There can be no, it is your duty to attend church on Sunday, or it is your duty to give money to this establishment, and certainly no, if you fail to do so you will suffer eternal consequences. An authentic christianity can echo Jesus and say “come, you who are thirsty”, but the invitation like god’s love must be unconditional.

In fact Jesus invitation is not at all an invitation to church but an invitation to life, so must ours be.

Thirdly, an authentic Christianity can make no claim of exclusivity. We cannot claim to have mastered or contained, life, love, answers or anything else. Just as Jesus saw his only vocation to point to god, so must our only vocation be to point to Jesus and Jesus, does not belong to me, or my denomination or even Christianity.

If we truly (authentically) believe that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” then all truth is in Jesus not us, the way to god is Jesus, not us, the life which we all so desperately long and search for is in Jesus, not us.

An authentic Christianity is an invitation to a pilgrimage where we together search for, express our longing for and live out this abundant, deep life that Jesus offers and there is no programme, no institution, no format. There is only invitation, servanthood, love and complete freedom.

An authentic Christianity pulls away the curtain to the holy of holies and say: Look god is not here, god is infused out there, in the world, in the people, in the children and the outcasts, in the widows and the orphans, in the LGBTQ people and the atheists. Our worship is to love and serve the world that god loves. To be love like god is love and when we are love, like god, then god lives in us.

So while authentic Christianity is transformative both for the individual and the world it does not grow churches. It may gather loosely knit groups of likeminded, who share the journey for a while, but it offers no help in building our own little kingdoms. An authentic Christianity will utterly fail at church growth, it will instead grow the presence of the kingdom of god in individuals and in the world.

Jesus is my brother

Who are you in this picture?

It may seem like an obvious thing to say, if god is our father then Jesus is our brother. There are some people (in the past myself included) who may have a problem thinking of themselves on the same level as Jesus. It seems disrespectful towards the son of god and almost blasphemous.

Jesus himself if not denies, downplays his own divinity. More than that, Jesus deconstruvpct the whole notion of family and proclaims a universal brother/sisterhood of humankind. Jesus also elevates his disciples stating that they will do greater things than he has done.

Paul repeatedly teaches that we are now part of god's intimate family and we need to start acting as such.

The Salvation Army General urged the Swedish Salvation Army Officers at an officers gathering in Huskvarna to: “be Jesus in every community”. Early on I saw my ministry along these lines to incarnate Jesus in whatever community I find myself in. During my officers training this was turned upside down for me.

I came as a cadet to my social practice week to Springfield Lodge in London. My line manager asked me what is social work for you? I quickly answered that, being Jesus for these unfortunate souls, was my mission. He then challenged me saying that maybe I needed to do one better. Maybe I needed to see everyone who walked in the door as Jesus.

Maybe we need to realise that when we say that Jesus is our brother, we need to realize that our brother, neighbour, the other is Jesus in our life and we need to learn to see th other as such.

Life is my religion. Being alive is my daily spiritual practice. Love is my rule. Humankind is my family. Authentic friendships is my church. The kingdom of god runs through my veins. Jesus is my brother. Becoming and being all that I am is my calling. Helping you become and be all that you are is my ministry. My deepest feelings is my guide. All living things are my teacher.

 

Authentic friendships is my church

couragefeetIf life is the religion what are we then to make of church? The English word for church comes from the greek kurios which is best translated as the Lord’s or those that belong to the Lord. In the context of this then maybe the simplest way to express this is that the cosmos, all of creation is the Lord’s.

But to most Christians church is more than just a belonging, it is also an event. It is the place where I worship and meet with the divine (which again in the light of being alive is my daily spiritual practice, would make the place everywhere). So that is not very helpful either. Jesus, however, states that where two or more are gathered in my name, there I will be present. This has also been one (of many) definitions of church.

What does it mean to be gathered in Jesus name? I am sure that if we ask ten theologians we’d get at least 15 answers. So, here is mine.

If life is my religion, being alive is my daily spiritual practice and love is my rule then loving relationships is the primary place to experience this divine love. If we are the temples of the holy spirit, then it is when we come together and I can see the divine love in you or perhaps, when I can see you through the divine love, this is when I am confronted with the divine, the transcendent. Thomas Merton states that if we truly recognised how glorious we are as human beings, we would fall down on our knees and worship each other.

Here is the catch, when we gather together and we are guarded, when we hide behind masks of ego and fabricated selves to fit in, we never really meet the other, we never really encounter each other.

This is why I believe that Authentic friendships, the kind of friendship where we have shed our masks and constructed coverings, where we dare to meet the other eye to eye, when we let divine love reveal how the other is lovely and sublime, this is where true church happens.

It is when we dare to show up as ourselves, naked and not ashamed, vulnerable, perhaps a little scared, and share our true selves with each other, this is when we truly meet under the name of Jesus and Jesus becomes a shining light of truth, grace and justice in our midst.

Life is my religionBeing alive is my daily spiritual practiceLove is my ruleHumankind is my familyAuthentic friendships is my churchThe kingdom of god runs through my veinsJesus is my brotherBecoming and being all that I am is my callingHelping you become and be all that you are is my ministryMy deepest feelings is my guideAll living things are my teacher.

Humankind is my family

12552260646nD98H“Who are my mother and my brothers?” Jesus asks in Mark 3.33. It is a poignant question, one worthy to ponder as we face this turbulent life. It seems to me that while the biblical narrative in some cases puts an emphasis on family, it also deconstructs the very idea of family.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu borrows the term ubuntu from his immediate culture and proposes that we are all part of the same organism:

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity. (Desmond Tutu, 2008)

This echoes Paul's words of us being one body:As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also ChristFor in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.h14

Now the body is not a single part, but many.If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.Or if an ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended.If they were all one part, where would the body be?But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.”Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary,and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety.whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it,so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. (1 Cor 12.12-26)

While this has often been preached as being words about only the church, it seems that Jesus himself often included not just those who would follow him but everyone into the folds of whom is accepted and included.

Again John 3.16 talks about gods love not for the individual Christian, not for the church but for the world (cosmos). We are all integral parts of this world, a world that god declared good, and part of a humanity that god declared better (very good). “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share it's joy”. Everyone one you meet is part of this global family, the air I breath in is the air you breathe out, we are so intimately connected down to the quantum level.

Which is why my family is not defined by who lives in my house or with whom I share blood ties. My family is all of humankind, everyone I meet is a wonderful work of art and god is the artist that created them all, in this sense everyone I meet is holy and worthy to be honoured, respected and loved.

P.S.

Reading this the day after, I wonder if it takes this concept far enough. Maybe we cannot stop at humankind, maybe I must, like St. Francis, recognise that the sun and moon, the bird and the bee, the brook and the tree are also part of my family and must be respected and cared for equally. Maybe I must realise that not only is every person holy but that every place and plant is equally sacred as part of the cosmos that god loves.

Life is my religion. Being alive is my daily spiritual practice. Love is my rule. Humankind is my family. Authentic friendships is my church. The kingdom of god runs through my veins. Jesus is my brother. Becoming and being all that I am is my calling. Helping you become and be all that you are is my ministry. My deepest feelings is my guide. All living things are my teacher.

 

%d bloggers like this: