volunteering. or how many dollars they donate to end hunger, or poverty, or oppression. It’s not measured by how many people say the sinners prayer. And it’s not measured by how many people become less sexist or racist or classist on any given day. I don’t you can measure it at all. It’s like trying to measure a giggle, or the taste of chocolate, or how you feel when your baby smiles for the first time. There are some things that cannot be measured. If growing renewal isn’t something that can be measured, or easily defined, how is it that you can recognise it?
going down this particular road They were on their way somewhere, they were going about their daily business, and they came across somebody who was in need, and they all had different responses.
The reason that I’m afraid is because when I think of the Spirit, there’s this sense of disconnection sometimes. The Spirit is at work in the world growing through all things. Working towards the renewal of all things. The Spirit is there, whether we see it not. Whether we know it or not. Whether we participate in it or not.
What happens when we can’t find the joy. Or nothing feels merry and bright. What happens if we’re grieving a family member, and this is the first Christmas without them. What if we’re feeling the financial burden of a holiday under capitalism, and can’t afford mountains of presents or food for our children or families, even though we give everything to make sure they don’t miss out. What if we’re deep in the darkness of mental health issues and can’t see a way out. What if we’re struggling with eating disorders around a holiday based so much around food and communal meals. What if we’re stuck on the other side of the country, or the world, because of the pandemic. And we won’t be able to see our families for the second year in a row. What if our families is not a safe place for us to be. But the pressure of Christmas Day means we have to be there with them, at the detriment of ourselves. What if this time of year brings up memories of trauma relating to families, or Christmas, or anything. What if nothing seems merry or bright. What if the dark seems all consuming - or never ending.
Human beings are designed to resonate with the heart of God. When Jesus says in John 8:28, ‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ that’s what He was talking about. He wasn’t talking about you will get your bible and you will suck out all the verses on that topic, and then you will do a reductionist process and come out with principles and rules. He’s not saying you will know the truth like that. He was saying you will hear something, and you will go ‘Yes. Yes.’
We are here for a reason. We are here for those who need the good news. We are here for those who need to hear a good news message. Not of some God of conditional love and begrudged tolerance, but of a God on unconditional love and deep passion - a God of affirmation. We are here to share the good news of love and liberation. The way of Jesus. The renewal of all things. Not eternal life insurance for us just when we die. A divine life that we participate in right here right now.
As we grew up through the church, we are taught that this book is a personal, spiritual book. And we apply a personal spiritual lens to it. So every story we come to, we apply a personal spiritual lens to it.
Was that really God? Did I really have a word of knowledge? Is that even a thing that happens to people? Did I really feel the presence of God when we were singing that song?
Healing is a part of what we were specifically called to do. It's certainly what the early disciples, and the new community that became known eventually as the church, were called to do. It’s a model for us too. Jesus was a healer. Jesus said to a man who couldn’t walk, 'Pick up your mat'. He made the blind see. He drove out demons. Whatever our understanding is of those stories, they all talk about people’s lives being made better, being renewed.
The parable of the small seed is about the belief that heaven spreads on earth for the benefit of others. But the image of a better world growing among our environment seems at odds with the climate crisis we now face. Climate change isn't coming. Climate change is already here.