Author: Reverend Don M. Foster, retired
Although not alone, I am the church. All of us need to decide what kind of church we want to be. May God’s will be done.
Thomas Merton wrote:
We are not at peace with others because
We are not at peace with ourselves, and
We are not at peace with ourselves because
We are not at peace with God.
A story is told of a great desert monk who was called to judge another desert dweller on some misbehavior. He did not want to go, but his fellow monk prevailed upon him. To make his point,he took a large pot with a hole in it, filled it with water, and struggled as he carried it over the desert, leaving a trail of water as he walked. When his fellow monks saw him carrying his leaky pot, they ran to find out why he was carrying such a leaky load. With sadness in his heart, he said his sins ran out behind him and yet this day he was called to judge another. The judgment was called off.
Each time we celebrate Holy Communion we pray, “By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly banquet.”
Not to feel affinity with others because our life choices make relationship difficult, is a living hell. Exaltation of one’s self and isolation are two ways we insulate ourselves from the responsibilities of being connected. We guard ourselves from the challenges others might make to our attitude, even our understanding of the church, because we really don’t want to enter in and risk change. We seclude ourselves behind walls of prejudice, fear, and superiority. We feel safer. We are not required to look at what we are doing to ourselves–the starvation of our hearts in disconnection with the rest of humanity. We construct walls within to keep the needs of others out of sight. Each becomes a hellish community of one. To experience a foretaste of heaven, however, we must look across and offer our hand in solidarity that others might live.
Rev. Don M. Foster is a graduate of Perkins School of Theology and a retired clergy in the Great Plains Annual Conference of the UMC.