Five more qualities I hope might characterize the church:

I hope that in our community:

we are challenged to trust the deep wisdom of God’s Spirit
inherent in every human being

and to honour God’s work in all people

we support one another in trusting the deep reality
that makes it possible for us to
meet one another beginning with “yes”

We seek to avoid being controlled
by the fear and sense of scarcity
that indicate a faltering trust in love

our life together is characterized by the gentleness
that is characteristic of the Love which created the universe
and sustains all of life

we see increasing kindness and compassion
at work in our interactions with one another
and with the world around us

So much of my understanding of what it means to be human, and hence what it means to be a truly human community (ie. “church”), is shaped by Genesis 1:27 where we are told that

God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them.

There is that within every human being which bears the stamp of our Creator. At no point in the Bible are we ever told that this “image” of God in which we were created has been eliminated or wiped out. We may wander away from this “image” of our deepest selves.  We may become unconscious of our true identity. We may lose our connection with this beautiful reality of our created nature. But at no time is it ever eradicated.

The function of church then is to be a place in which we are called back to an awareness of our true nature. We exist to be a place in which we are reminded of the people we truly are and are given the opportunity to practice living in community from that deep knowledge that we  share a common identity with all humans as beings created in the image of God.

We seek to trust the truth and beauty at the core of every human life. We meet one another beginning with “Yes” trusting that each person is seeking to live from that deep inner prompting of God’s truth and light at work in their life and therefore is worthy of being granted the space and freedom to live in tune with their deepest calling.

As we renew our connection with our true inner nature, we will be less controlled by the demands and expectations of external forces. We will find the freedom to live with integrity, honesty, and courage, regardless of the response of the outside world.

The more conscious we are of our inherent connection to God, the more we will live as the children we were created to be. Our lives will increasingly take the shape of that love, kindness, and compassion that are our true nature. We do not have to manufacture these qualities. They are our truest identity.

When we live together with love and compassion, we are simply being our true selves.

This is why Jesus could say,

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

It is not a “heavy burden” to be the people we were created to be. When we live in tune with our true nature, our lives come into harmony with the reality of who we are. We are able to live the restful lives for which our hearts most deeply long. We are carried by the energy flow of the universe which is the presence of God at work in all of life.