Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Thin Line

You may recall one of my earlier posts called “Who Will Be a Witness” where I share a story of meeting a young man who had never been to church nor heard the story of Jesus and how I believed that God had put me in that place, at that moment, for that purpose.  My spiritual director simply responded with, “What if that were every moment?”  In those simple words, she opened my heart and mind to the concept that God is placing me in every moment, in every place, for his purpose.

For most of my life, I have lived my life with a hard line between the spiritual and the secular.  There was a definite difference between those two worlds.  The Episcopal Church is centered on worship, unlike other denominations who are centered on education or service.  Since we are focused on worship and worship has historically been in a building with beautiful music and intentional words, it is very different than other experiences of my week.  Worship brings us together and can reset our priorities.  It can be a way we experience or hear God.  But it is only worship. 

Our curate, Rev. Alan Bentrup, reminds us that what we do on Sunday is worship and what we do out in the world is church.  Being the church, loving God, is so much bigger than showing up at church on Sunday.  If we love God, then we are doing and being as much like Christ as we can – in every part of our lives – not just Sunday. 

In the Old Testament, God gives us a clear command to worship no other Gods but him when he hands down the Ten Commandments.  Throughout the Israelites’ time in the wilderness, there was emphasis on worshiping God and observing the rules of a people set apart.  In the New Testament, Jesus reminds us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  This was not new – it’s also in the Old Testament – but loving became the focus instead of the rule-following.  He also reminds us that he came for all people – not just the Jewish people who were set apart.  This was Good News to many but radically disappointing news to others.

In these fractious times, I struggle living out my Christian beliefs because I feel I need to consider how others may react to my loving all of God’s creation.  Loving our Muslim neighbors and defending the dignity of the LGBT community are as natural to me as prayer.   I also take my Baptismal Covenant seriously to strive for justice and peace.  It is not possible to compartmentalize my love to avoid ruffling feathers because my “worlds” aren’t separate anymore. 

I wonder this morning what Jesus would think about being worshiped since he came to serve and not to be served.  I wonder what he would think about our churches since the early church had no buildings to separate followers into various houses of worship.  Followers were simply in the world, sharing their witness of the love they had experienced.  In that way, there was no line between the sacred and the secular.  The church was the world – not contained in a building.  Ashes To Go was all over the news this year; this shows you how revolutionary it is to actually be the church.  This shows you how much we have hoarded God for ourselves.  

Someone recently shared with me this powerful quote from Wendell Berry: “There are no sacred and unsacred places; there are only sacred and desecrated places.”  Every part of the world is God’s world and it is all sacred until we desecrate it.  How does our life protect every moment, every place, as sacred?  That every person is sacred and precious to God?  Does your life – your words and actions – reflect loving God’s world and all that is in it?  How can you make the line between you and God thinner?    

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