Beloved St. John’s community,
Most of you know that I live in an interfaith household. My husband Jeff was born, baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran church, but never felt connected to Christian culture, theology or practice, so he left the church and eventually adopted traditional yoga as his spiritual path. He now experiences much greater connection with the expansive Christian faith that is practiced in the Episcopal Church, but still primarily identifies as a yogi. I was raised in the church, left it, and came back to a radically different version of Christianity than the one I grew up with.
At first, Jeff and I tried to “meet in the middle” in a sense. We attended a Unitarian Universalist church together. While we know that works really well for a lot of people, for us it left us dissatisfied. We felt neither of us were getting the robustness or transformation available in our respective faiths. My husband often says this: “You can dig a lot of shallow wells, or one deep one.” We each chose to dig deeply from the wells of our respective traditions, and this has provided us both—and our marriage as a whole—the true opportunity for transformation, healing and help that we believe only comes with interacting with God deeply.
We are seeing everywhere that there is such need for healing and transformation. What we are doing as a nation is not working. Most of us think that’s because the other side is wrong. But if we’re honest, perhaps we’re all both part of the problem and also have the capacity to be part of the healing that we need. But how do we do that? How can we experience lasting transformation?
Friends, church as we know it is really different. I know it’s just not the same to watch worship videos recorded in peoples’ homes than it is to experience the presence of God as a collective when participating in Christ’s sacrament together. I feel that myself. It’s not the same preaching to a computer screen as it is seeing your wonderful faces! But this is precisely the time to dig deeply into the well of our tradition, to dig deeper into the forms of worship that are available to us even if they don’t take the forms we prefer—in order to touch the living God at the heart of our faith. The living God, whose being is love, is equally available to us now. We can encounter the living Christ through encountering each other, studying scripture, practicing our faith. This is how we open ourselves to the Spirit’s transformation: day by day, step by step, breath by breath.
I encourage you all, with all my heart, not to lose hope. Sometimes, your presence over zoom may not seem to benefit you in particular, but it may help someone else. And you may discover that your intent and your effort are all the mustard seed that God needs to grow into a giant tree.
Let us dig deeply into the well of our tradition, expansively interpreted, authentically experienced, and lived out in practice with God’s help. In this way, we can experience the transformation we need to become wounded healers ourselves. Having the humility, honesty and tenacity to stay engaged when things get uncomfortable is when we discover deeper meaning, a new way to look at things, and opportunities to allow God’s Spirit to transform us beyond our own capacities to imagine.
Today, let us remember the seven simple verbs—the doorways into vast expanses of rich experience by countless Christians across space and time—that are the practices of Jesus’ Way of Love: turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go and rest. We will have two opportunities to deeply explore faith coming up—a “Spiritual Bootcamp in the Wilderness” and “Sacred Ground: A Film-Based Dialog Series About Race.” (more information later in this e-news). Meanwhile, consider how God’s Spirit might be inviting you to take one of these seven practices today and dig deeply into it.
Faithfully, in Christ’s love,