Monday, March 30, 2009

...the deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless, it is beyond words, and it is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept. Not that we discover a new unity. We discover an older unity. My dear brothers and sisters, we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.
—Thomas Merton

I’ve been playing around with a definition of church.
See how this feels to you:

a community of strangers
who become friends in Christ
with the intention
of being changed
by and for one another
and for the sake of the world
in the presence of God,
sustained and inspired
by the Holy Spirit.

As I’ve lived and played with this definition it seems to have a grounded quality, something lasting that calls me forward and supports my work in the present. I love that it sets out right away to acknowledge that really we are all strangers, one to the other, no matter how long we have known each other.

At the same time it acknowledges our friendship with one another through the energy of Christ. I also love how it notices the unseen presence of God which underlies our influence upon one another.
I also love the reliance upon the inspiration and guiding nature of the Holy Spirit which to me implies an openness to change, a spirit of discernment, and a willingness to move ahead when the way becomes clear.

As our Core Values Task Groups continue to meet we can test out this definition of church to see what is missing and take stock of what needs to be changed but for now I want to offer it up as working definition of what we are about together in this time and place.

As the world shifts and turns around us, as our literal fortunes rise and fall, we need "church"as sanctuary in which to find communion with others, reflect on the deeper meaning of our lives, and name our dependence upon God and one another.

—Laurie Rudel