Bishop Geoff Peddle has invited the diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador into this challenge: What needs to change in our parishes in order for us “to be Good News,” “to pour our love into the world to all who come our way,” “to be a church drenched in God’s Grace… and to act like we know that to be true and trust the Gospel to reshape us.”
And “Do you want the church to become more than it is and all that it can be?”
My answer is yes, yes, yes, yes and yes! And I’m sure your’s is also. But what is the obstacle? What is preventing God’s Spirit from moving more freely in our churches? What is preventing God’s Spirit from working through our churches in reaching out in love and service to all?
The ever present and exclusive “I” is one of the things that needs to be changed in our spirit’s and in our parishes.
God’s Life is spacious and inclusive of all that is. The greatest lie that the enemy to Life has to tell us is that we are separate from God and from each other. Acts reminds us that it is in God “in whom we live and move and have our being.” Jesus teaches us that “I am in the Father and the Father is in me, I am in you and you are in me.”
Yet we are so easily threatened by those who are different from us, we are so threatened by that which we do not know or understand. We are so threatened by the thought of change. The simple and obvious truth is that this is the result of shallow spiritual living.
If we are only living life on the surface of our consciousness, then we will not be open to renewal, we will not be open to change, we will not be able to let go of that which is already dead, we will not be inclusive and caring to all.
That surface level of consciousness, of spirituality, is the “I.” This is our obstacle and challenge. In psychological terms, it is our ego. In spiritual terms, it is our false self. In Biblical terms, Jesus teaches us that we must die to self.
If this “false self” is all that we know, then we cannot “be the Good News,” we cannot “pour our love into the world to all who come our way,” we cannot “be a church drenched in God’s Grace… and trust the Gospel to reshape us.”
God’s call upon us now, and in every individual life in every generation, is to go deeper. Authentic spiritual practice is about learning to get beneath the grip of the ego surface (our false self), and to open up to God’s spacious Life that is within every single one of us. This is the place of the Communion of the Saints and the Unity of the Holy Spirit. It is the place of the Unitive Love of God. It is in all of creation. It is in every culture, every language, every people. It is inclusive of the person you don’t like, the person you don’t agree with, the person who has hurt you. We are indeed one with God, and at One with every other person.
God’s love and life is unimaginably spacious, inclusive, abundant, and overflowing to all.
Let us hear the Bishop’s challenge for “the church to become more than it is and all that it can be.” And let us become more intentional about our spiritual lives. Let us learn to get beneath the turmoil and insecurity of the surface, to go deeper into our Truest Self that is at one with God’s life. And from that place of Life, to welcome, love and serve all out of God’s immeasurable abundance.