Further points on yesterday’s “‘Why’ of Church”:
Church exists to enable all people to allow their hearts to open and become responsive to
the mysterious divine Presence at the heart of all creation.
6.We seek to create an environment in which all people feel able to respond freely to the work of God’s Spirit in the way that feels authentic in their lives. There is no one-size-fits-all version of what it looks like to live responsively to the moving of God’s Spirit. Freedom is one of the foundations of the church. Paul wrote, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). We renounce all guilt, coercion, manipulation, and pressure in even their most subtle forms. We desire to open a spacious place in which God’s Spirit is free to move and all people are free to respond.
7.The presence to which we hope to open is both “mysterious” and “divine.” It may seem obvious, but it is important never to lose sight of the fact that, before anything else, church is about God. It is not about programs, achievements, short term or long term goals. It is not about any human agenda. Before anything else, we seek to acknowledge and affirm our awareness of and cooperation with the hidden mysterious Presence we perceive at the heart of all creation.
8.We understand that we are not in control of the work of the Spirit. The work of God’s Spirit is unpredictable and surprising. Jesus said, “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes” (John 3:8). To be like “the wind” is to be flexible and responsive to the realities of the situation in which we live. It will not always be entirely clear where this “wind” may be guiding. But we remain committed to manifesting the Presence of that Spirit we believe brought the church into existence and is our Guide and reason for being.
9.In Christian tradition, we believe that this Presence was fully embodied in history in the person of Jesus. We therefore see in Jesus the perfection of all that we are called to be as beings created in the image and likeness of God. The Spirit to whom we seek to open and become responsive is the Spirit of Jesus. As we open to the Spirit of Jesus, our lives will be increasingly characterized by that Spirit. We will see born in our midst the qualities of Jesus: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and inner strength” (Galatians 5:22,23). Our community will be increasingly characterized by healing, reconciliation, and justice, not because we aim at these qualities, but because they are the natural fruit of God’s Spirit.
10.Where the Holy Spirit is at work, there is no “split.” The Holy Spirit restores to all creation that oneness that is God’s original intention for all life. As Paul declares, “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us” (2 Corinthians 5:19). As we live wide open to the reconciling Spirit of Christ, we will be agents of healing and reconciliation throughout the world. We will sit lightly to our what always allowing our why to shape our what. We will be the good news we intend to declare.