I hope that in our community:
we are increasingly open and flexible
honouring structures and traditions that serve human flourishing
and letting go of any that hinder the flow of life
we are willing to let go of our small personal agendas
in service to the greater well-being
of the whole community
our lives are characterized by the generosity
that flows naturally from a life of gratitude
and an awareness of abundance
we are being equipped in all our relationships
to live more authentically and gently,
with greater honesty and humility
we acknowledge our common brokenness
and admit our failure to live fully
the luminous reality for which we were created
If a church is going to exist as an identifiable community, it must have coherent boundaries and parameters that give definition and shape to its common life. As a Christian church, we operate within certain structural realities that forge our common identity. Our life together is based on traditions that form our community and establish us as a recognizable body of faith.
But, Jesus made it clear that, structures and traditions are to be a framework, not a straight jacket. Confronted by rigid traditionalism and the unbending demands of those who were locked into certain beliefs and practices, Jesus said,
The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath. (Mark 2:27)
As long as traditions and structures are life-giving in our current context, we honour and respect the coherence they provide. As soon as they become binding and rigid, we seek to gently let them go and find new ways to nurture and express the life of the Spirit we seek to embody.
Fear can keep us bound to patterns that are no longer vehicles for life. When we lose our awareness of the abundance to which traditions are intended to open us, we lose our ability to flow naturally with the Spirit that is the source of our vitality as a community.
God’s Spirit did not set things going in a long-ago era and then abandon us to plod along in bondage to established practices, dogmas, and language formulations that are no longer able to carry the gift of truth and light for which they were originally adopted. When practices of the past cease to be effective vehicles in the present, we abandon them, no matter how reassuring they may be for those of us who are tempted to cling to the comforting protection of their familiarity.
When we continue to cling to patterns that hinder the flow of the Spirit, we will soon cease to live authentically and gently. Our determination to hang on at all costs to old habits will cause us to lose touch with people who were not raised with the practices and beliefs of our communal life.
We need to acknowledge that all external structures imperfectly embody our attempts to create a system able to help us open to an awareness of the presence of God. The structures and traditions we create are not absolute. Love is the only absolute.
As John says,
God is love. (I John 4:8)
Everything we do is intended to facilitate the practice of love. We will joyfully sacrifice anything that might get in the way of our hearts opening to love.