the liberator vs. the perpetrator

“We are all one bread and one body, for we are all partakers of one bread and of one cup.” –St. Paul

Part I images-22


I think one of the main reasons I haven’t particularly liked past conversations with peers who had a lot of things to say against “the Church” is because their objections seemed to be entangled in the rantings of a self-righteousness person (which is ironic).

It is another story when you realize years and years later that you are the one who ended up with the church wounds and you yourself have need of someone to bind them.

I walked outside the library the other day and bore witness to the librarian telling this group of kids to turn off their profane music they were blasting. These kids looked so weird so instead of walking home I took a seat on the brick wall just to see if I’d end up talking to any of them. This one kid named Robert approached me after chasing his friend who had run off with his bike and told me quite frankly that his cat died. “Can I get a hug?” “Sure.” I said.

I started talking with him more (just about his life and then ended up sharing w him some of my own journey with self-hood and God and coming in contact with Jesus) and he started telling me about how he’s been visiting every church he can think to go to. “Yeah, Ive checked out Ebenezer, Lifepoint, Horizon’s, and I most recently got kicked out of Mt. Ararat.”

“Oh yeah, what happened?” I asked him. “I don’t know, I guess I just started causing trouble. But I know what it really was. They didn’t want to deal with me. They had their 5 step plan for the guy hooked on porn, but my issues weren’t something they had a small group for.”

He said what he was gonna do now was to go find a temple or some epic building that was a sanctuary just for him and God.  “Because the way I see it; churches are like a subscription. Pay 9.99 a month and you walk away with some thing that you want, but it’s basically a business, I think..”

I couldn’t detect any of the old cynicism I used to detest in some of my peers who would rag about the church this and the church that (and it was all very negative and aimless). As I now think about my talk with the kid outside the library, I’m pretty grateful for it, because it helped me recognize the hopelessness (and maybe some bitterness too) which has secretly dwelt in my heart concerning the institution of church.

I left the conversation with genuine compassion for this kid and a curiosity to study the obligatory relationship the Christian has with “the Church”.  Is it possible to be united with Christ and permissibly reject the Church? Or in other words,  Can I experience intimacy with Christ free from any involvement with a “church body”?

For someone who spent significant years in a chamber of cult activity I am realizing how long a journey it is to recover and heal from that, especially when you aren’t willing to altogether abandon Jesus. It can be somewhat of a shell-shock to enter in to church culture after having been so heavily immersed in a cult setting.

My himages-23opeful desire to find refuge in the safety of my own private quarry was recently disturbed by haunting thoughts concerning the sacraments. (most of which were inspired as I haphazardly began delving into Martin Luther’s treatise on the subject of communion)

Martin Luther begins the treatise describing Christ’s decision to set apart unto the world a Church; a church which offers the weary sinner a chance to partake of Christ’s body and blood. By doing so the church thus commits itself to be a place of common profit and common loss; a place where love unites all.

It is like a city where every citizen shares with all the others the name, honor, freedom, trade, customs, usages, help, support, protection and the like, of that city, and on the other hand shares all the danger of fire and flood, enemies and death, losses, imposts and the like.

He writes that through the offering of communion one may receive not only a reminder of Christ’s eternal love, but assurance of our victory in the midst of adversity, which we are assured of all the more as we partake of communion alongside our fellow man (to whom Christ has also bestowed such victory). It is as if, through this sacrament, He has whispered to our hearts “Therefore, be bold and confident; thou tightest not alone; great help and support are round about thee.” (ML)

I found myself eagerly soaking up the ideas aforementioned which give some sort of potential explanation of Christ’s decision to establish a Church on Earth. The ideas themselves reach out to those deep longings of the human soul. However, the hopelessness I’ve felt concerning finding healing in the church can’t be erased by idealism.

In future posts I will further explore the questions and ideas included in this one.


 

 

 

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Dealings with beauty

 

“He begins to feel that the stars are strange, that the moon is sad, that the sunrise is mighty. He begins to see in them all the something men call beauty. He will lie on the sunny bank and gaze into the blue heaven till his soul seems to float abroad
and mingle with the infinite made visible, with the boundless condensed into colour and shape. The rush of the water through the still twilight, under the faint gleam of the exhausted west, makes in his ears a melody he is almost aware he cannot understand.”

 

“We no longer dare to believe in beauty and we make of it a mere appearance in order the more easily to dispose of it.”

 


 

This is a post about the topic of beauty (especially in regards to grace) which I am writing by accident. I started out writing about dealing with defeat and it turned into revelings of beauty. (therefore I do not mean to communicate about beauty in an entirely abstract way). My hope is to talk about beauty as a means of grace, and as a means of experiencing healing from the pain of deserved retribution.

Something this week has taught me (my mother has taught me) is that failure does not simply go away. When you mess up badly, you really have quite a lot to go through afterwards. Life has a way of building in retribution, as painful as that is.

Another thing I am learning is the act of walking through defeat, (enduring its wound) and still that most pivotable act of picking yourself up, shaking off the dust and moving forward with your life.

I was wrestling through the tension of deserved consequences in a world that is also unjust and unpredictable when I began to see small bits of light splendidly seep through the whole situation.

I was sitting on the couch (after having gone outside and discovered it to be unbearably cold), holding my cup of coffee and (having abandoned all thought) observing the way the sky and tree branches looked through the windows. Without asking to be, (and without having done anything to create it) I found myself in an uncommon bath of morning light.

The light was, as it were, sunny and gorgeous. It was pouring in through the windows above my head and behind me, filling the room with clear colors. Filling the room with beauty that I could not have seen if I’d been sitting on that couch a few hours before.

I saw in this weird waking up experience the horribly enchanting nature of beauty. I somehow was able to dwell in something so dignifying and redeeming to the person who has done all the wrong things. You don’t simply make a good choice and then the morning light decides to come and kiss your shoulders and skin with its warmth, and reward your eyes with myriads of pure color.

Beauty (the realization of beauty) is a means of grace to the soul that has known the bitterness of sin. Beauty points to the hope of what is to come, a world without sin (and a world where all of the goodness we taste of has very little to do with our worthiness)

 

The needs of the soul

sudanwater

Like camels in Sudan we ride
wearily along to catch the evening’s tide
to feel the soft breath of daylight’s kiss
goodnight

In comes the golden weather
hot sands become as pools beneath my feet
to swim, to feast, to dive
merrily we ride

we caught the evening’s tide, alright
we ran beneath the setting sun
we tasted of divine love
While all the worlds lay still before us

Flashbacks of a former life, a former good
the separate wonder
Can one go back to who they were?
What wretched spell coerced a man to lay aside the pure!

Like camels in the night we ride
Himself now seeking
a certain weariness strikes the core
depleted

I pour out these drops on sand
thirsty again, but I am tired of drinking
I’ll now stretch out across this thirsty ground

The beauty of Heaven trickles down
beneath the Moon where memories lie
sacred and still

Forever stretched out beneath the pale blue sky,
tucked deeply between the edges of night,
embedded in the Stars as they pull diamonds from their pockets
and whisper to another if they will trade it for a pearl

But it gently slips from one Star’s hand
falling down
towards that foreign world
(but don’t worry, the pure remains pure and the sacred
will always be alive)
and someone beneath will catch it
even if they aren’t looking for it

Silently along we ride
like camels in the night
no longer thinking about water
riding along for the pleasure of it
just to see some stars
and feel the wind
remembrance

What was thirst?
What was hunger?
Buried beneath me,
deeper cries than the physical man could utter

the sound of which more eerie
for the sun could not calm them, nor shelter
and Food and drink would not silence them

As the wind howled over sands
we could hear their deeper cries, yet leery of their warnings
they continued on, ever mourning
for a return of all that sacred world once offered:

intimacy without fear and
gifts without price
kindness unmeasured;
connectivity without a bribe

Like birds upon the wind
the longings came like songs,
we trembled as they echoed from each pilgrim heart
many notes and octaves, countless harmonies
clear, bright moonlit melodies

we did not know fully the beauty
for the sacred carries pain
but we knew of moonlight
we knew the sound of goodnight

So on we traveled
like camels in Sudan
carrying our symbol pearls
as the weary song rang out
and the white sands became pools of delight.