A few recent conversations have left me thinking about the reasons I write this blog. And probably, the fact that it's a new year has also influenced my decision to consider the direction and the way I express myself here...which is not exactly as I talk to people on a daily basis (really, I don't regularly quote passages of scripture!) or as I deal with my clients in my massage practice...even though there is a spiritual element to the way I approach my work. One day, I will write about that, too.
But there was a passage read today from Paul's letter to the Ephesians that I think approaches an explanation for my blogging motivation:
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe. --Ephesians 1: 17-19a
As I have come into relationship with God...stepping into the light through the door that is Jesus Christ....what I have found is more hope, more peace, more love than I thought possible. A love that does not discriminate, and illuminates the beauty of each of us. To quote the collect of the day, I have discovered a God who "wonderfully created and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature." And, as Episcopalians are always reminded in our Baptismal Covenant, we have an obligation to each person we come in contact with to "respect the dignity of every human being." Because the spirit of God is in everyone, and to fully live into that commitment necessarily means we will open our hearts...and more importantly the doors of the church....to those who come seeking, regardless of their sexual orientation, race, income level, or any other myriad of ways humans separate from one another.
For far too long, my brothers and sisters in the gay community have felt rejected by their religious communities...either in blatant outward ways or in much more subtle and very hurtful ways of simply not allowing us to participate in any way. And even though the times they are a-changin' in the church (especially the Episcopal Church), there are still forces in the world trying to convince the LGBT community that Christ did NOT die for them. If my blog serves no other function, I hope it is to show that (a) God is love, (b) God loves all of us equally, passionately, endlessly and (c)God looks forward to your return home...right now....because God has the best party going on, and can't wait for you to show up. Once you've said "Yes" to the invite, you will find yourself on a path toward eternal life....which is a whole lot better than eternal death!
So as I ponder a question of "How to keep the church vibrant and relevant in today's world?" what immediately comes to mind is, "Let God's love and joy be the centerpiece." Remind the people that this is an amazing story, an incredible love letter, and an invite to a party that's open to anyone who wants to come in. And don't be afraid to smile at a stranger, and welcome them in.
God is with us when we're down. And, as the poet Hafiz notes, God is with us in our joy...
What is laughter? What is laughter?
It is God waking up! O it is God waking up!
It is the sun poking its sweet head out
From behind the cloud
You have been carrying too long,
Veiling your eyes and heart.
O what is laughter, Hafiz?
What is this precious love and laughter
budding in our hearts?
It is the glorious sound
of a soul waking up!
--"Laughter" by Hafiz, Sufi poet (c. 1320-1389)
So wake up! There's a lot of life out there!