If this email does not display correctly, please use this link to view the message.

DignityUSA Logo

Breath of the Spirit

Pastoral, Liturgical, Teaching, and Social Justice Moments brought to you by DignityUSA.

Breath of the Spirit is our electronic spiritual and liturgical resource for our members and potential members. Nothing can replace your chapter or other faith community but we hope you will find further support here for integrating your spirituality with your sexuality and all the strands of your life.


The early church certainly had more variety community to community than we have today. Though each dedicated itself to carrying out Jesus’ gospel command to “have love for one another,” each developed and showed that love in different ways.


APRIL 24TH, 2016: FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

 

Acts 14:21-27
Revelation 21:1-5a
John 13:31-33a, 34-35

Many of us have yet to recognize the importance of communities in the early church. Individuals certainly stand out. But the communities which helped form and sustain those individuals frequently fade into the background. That’s why today’s first reading is so significant. There’s no way the community which gave birth to Paul and Barnabas’ missionary journeys can ever be overlooked. Wherever they went, they always introduced themselves as representatives of the church at Antioch. That community sent then out and paid their bills. And it was to that community that they eventually returned.

The news they brought seems to have pleased everyone. Through their evangelization “God . . . had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” We know from chapter 11 that the Antioch community was one of the first Christian churches to take the ultra-liberal step of baptizing non-Jews, prompting Barnabas to travel to Tarsus and encourage the newly-converted Saul to return with him to Antioch. As a “Hellenist” Jew, Saul had grown up in a non-Jewish culture, spoke Greek and knew how to relate to Gentiles. He was perfect for carrying on a Gentile ministry.

Of course, as we’ll see later in Acts, not every Christian community agreed with Antioch’s practice of baptizing Gentiles without first converting them to Judaism. Paul would have to fight that battle literally until the day he died.

The early church certainly had more variety community to community than we have today. Though each dedicated itself to carrying out Jesus’ gospel command to “have love for one another,” each developed and showed that love in different ways.

When couples ask me to suggest a first reading for their wedding ceremony, I always suggest Proverbs 30:18-19. During my high school marriage courses, I’ve always taught, “There’s no one way always, everywhere, and to everyone, to show love.” That belief is mirrored in the Proverbs passage: “Three things are too wonderful for me, yes, four I cannot understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent over a rock, the way of a ship at high sea, and the way of a man with a woman.”

The Hebrew word – “derek” – which here is translated “way,” basically refers to a path or road. The Proverbs author is reminding his readers that there’re no roads in the sky, over rocks, or at sea. Eagles, snakes and ships have to create their own roads to get from point A to point B. The zinger is that, in the same way, there are no roads in relationships between men and women. Each couple must create its own path. Love demands they do so.

That why no two Christian communities are exactly alike. Because each exists in order to show love to one another, each will do that in a different way. That’s also why we have four gospels. Since each gospel springs from a different community, it’s impossible to have just one. Notice how the author of Revelation speaks so often about “a new heaven and a new earth.” If God is really dwelling among us and helping us show love to those around us, we’ll always be new.

But in this day and age, when almost every diocese is closing and/or combining parishes, we have a problem. Church by church, we’re getting rid of each parish’s unique theology, the special way in which its members have loved one another.

As disturbing as this process is, it might be one way the risen Jesus is forcing us to reflect on how our own parish demonstrates its one of a kind love . . . before it’s too late.

DignityUSA

P.O. Box 376
Medford, MA 02155
United States

800-877-8797
info@dignityusa.org

Please support DignityUSA

Click here to unsubscribe from our mailing list.

Click here to stop receiving email from DignityUSA.

Forward this email