We ended Part 2 of this series, When Church Stops Working, with these words:
Wherever we see the good news of lives being made whole….
This means we have to have much bigger eyes, some creativity, an expansive consciousness, a heart that beats and breaks for the universe, and an ability to ask the ongoing question, “Who is being left out of this beautiful thing called life?”
Jesus didn’t come to earth to create another religion. He came to wake people up! We have to transcend our views of orthodoxy, get beyond Christianity as the best thing since sliced bread, and reengage the world with tangible shalom written all over our complex hearts! We get to partner with what spirit is doing within us, around us and in others to unveil life to the fullness: light, hope and healing to the nations. That’s good news!
Can I get an old school, Amen?
When I say, “church,” what comes to mind now that you’ve been trying to process a new way to live?
Okay, let’s get practical.
I’ve got friends who plant seeds in local, urban gardens and cultivate a harvest of veggies that are given away outside coffee shops, breweries and local parks!
I know people who organize peaceful protests in the city and mobilize the crowds toward social justice on behalf of people of color.
I have a friend who brings people downtown to feed the homeless every day.
One of my buddies organizes online communities through diverse, theological topics, bringing people together to chat over fantastically critical topics.
I’ve got friends who sing hymns in bars with pints of beer held high!
Speaking of pubs, the interfaith/ inter-religious/nonreligious communities that engage in meaningful dialogue every week across the nation via Brew Theology is another excellent example of damn, good news!
Whether it’s bringing neighbors together for dinner, creating opportunities for communities to extend themselves on behalf of the poor or volunteering with friends at the local school, it is time we allow ourselves the freedom to say that spirit is moving in all kinds of fun ways; no institution or religion has the sole keys to these movements of love.
We all have something to give regardless of our religious heritage, whether it’s our time, food, skills and/or conversations. As the saying goes, “build a longer table, not a higher fence.”
Sadly, the “church” has been notoriously known for the latter, which is why people are looking for love and belonging in other places. So, let’s have grace around the table!
Let’s remember the critical words from the apostle Paul, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
These powerful words should infiltrate the souls of humanity. The dream is to be one humanity! That, my friends, is a beautiful dream. In all of our particularities: race, gender, sex, religion, etc…. we are one!
Let’s end with some of my favorite and inspiring words from Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh:
We have different roots, traditions, and ways of seeing, but we share the common qualities of love, understanding and acceptance… the most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When we are mindful, touching deeply the present moment, we can see and listen deeply.”
I’d love to hear from you! What kinds of fringy, good news LIFE is happening in your city, town, neighborhood? What ideas do you have moving forward?