Reality Is Communion

May 7th, 2018 by Dave Leave a reply »

Reality Is Communion
Sunday, May 6, 2018

In the beginning God says, “Let us make humanity in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves” (Genesis 1:26). The use of the plural pronoun here seems to be an amazing, deep time intuition of what Christians would later call the Trinity—the revelation of the nature of God as community, as relationship itself, a Mystery of perfect giving and perfect receiving, both within God and outside of God. The Body of Christ is another metaphor for this bonding. “Reality as communion” is the template and pattern for our entire universe, from atoms to galaxies, and certainly in human community.
We come to know who God is through exchanges of mutual knowing and loving. God’s basic method of communicating God’s self is not the “saved” individual, the rightly informed believer, or even a person with a career in ministry, but the journey and bonding process that God initiates in community: in marriages, families, tribes, nations, schools, organizations, and churches who are seeking to participate in God’s love, maybe without even consciously knowing it.
Community seems to be God’s strategy and God’s leaven inside the dough of creation. It is both the medium and the message. It is both the beginning and the goal: “May they all be one . . . so the world may believe it was you who sent me . . . that they may be one as we are one, with me in them and you in me” (see John 17:21, 23).
Thomas Merton wrote, “The Christian is not merely ‘alone with the Alone’ in the Neoplatonic sense, but he is One with all his ‘brothers [and sisters] in Christ.’ His inner self is, in fact, inseparable from Christ and hence it is in a mysterious and unique way inseparable from all the other ‘I’s’ who live in Christ, so that they all form one ‘Mystical Person,’ which is ‘Christ.’” [1]
There is no other form for the Christian life except a common one. Until and unless Christ is experienced as a living relationship between people, the Gospel remains largely an abstraction. Until Christ is passed on personally through faithfulness and forgiveness, through concrete bonds of union, I doubt whether he is passed on by words, sermons, institutions, or ideas.


Church as Living Organism
Monday, May 7, 2018

The Apostle Paul’s teaching is deeply incarnational, yet this has often not been recognized. Paul sees that the Gospel message must have concrete embodiment, which he calls “churches.” Jesus’ first vision of church is so simple we miss it: “two or three gathered in my name” (Matthew 18:20), “and I am with you” (which is just as strong a statement of presence as in the bread and wine of communion). This is surely why Jesus insists that the message be communicated not by the lone evangelist but sends the disciples out “two by two” (Mark 6:7). The individual alone is not a fitting communicator of the core message, and I am not either. (I am blessed to be part of a supportive Franciscan community that gives me the structural and financial freedom to teach and write. Through editing and technology, the Center for Action and Contemplation fully brings my messages to readers and listeners. I certainly could not do it alone!)

During Paul’s lifetime, the Christian church was not yet an institution or a centrally organized set of common practices and beliefs. It was a living organism that communicated the Gospel primarily through relationships. This fits with Paul’s understanding of Christ as what we might call an energy field, a set of relationships inside of which we can live with integrity. Today’s support or recovery groups are good examples of these relationships.

Paul’s brilliant metaphor for this living, organic, concrete embodiment is “the Body of Christ”: “Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit, because all those parts make up a single body, so it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12). At the heart of this body, providing the energy that enlivens the whole community, although each in different ways, is “the love of God that has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5).

This Spirit is itself the foundational energy of the universe, the Ground of All Being, described in the first lines of the Bible (Genesis 1:2). Union is not just spiritual poetry, but the very concrete work of God. It is how God makes love to what God created. Paul writes that it is precisely “in your togetherness that you are Christ’s Body” (1 Corinthians 12:27, JB). By remaining—against all trials and resistance—inside this luminous web of relationship, this vibrational state of love, we experience a very honest and healthy notion of salvation. If you are trying to do it alone and apart, it is not salvation at all, but very well disguised self-interest.

Paul’s communities are his audiovisual aids that he can point to inside of a debauched empire (where human dignity was never upheld as inherent), to give credibility to his message. To people who asked, “Why should we believe there’s a new or different life possible?” Paul could say, “Look at these people. They’re different. This is a different social order.” In Christ, “there are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, JB). This is not just a religious idea, but a socioeconomic message that began to change the world—and still can.

For Jesus, such teachings as forgiveness, healing, and justice work are the only real evidence of a new and shared life. If we do not see this happening in churches and spiritual communities (but merely the conducting of worship services or meditation sits), religion is “all in the head” and largely an illusion. Peacemaking, forgiveness, and reconciliation are not some kind of ticket to heaven later. They are the price of peoplehood—the signature of heaven—now.


Jesus Calling……..MAY 7 IF YOU LEARN TO TRUST ME—really trust Me—with your whole being, then nothing can separate you from My Peace. Everything you endure can be put to good use by allowing it to train you in trusting Me. This is how you foil the works of evil, growing in grace through the very adversity that was meant to harm you. Joseph was a prime example of this divine reversal, declaring to his brothers: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Do not fear what this day, or any day, may bring your way. Concentrate on trusting Me and on doing what needs to be done. Relax in My sovereignty, remembering that I go before you, as well as with you, into each day.

Fear no evil, for I can bring good out of every situation you will ever encounter. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal. —ISAIAH 26:4

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. —GENESIS 50:20 NASB

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. —PSALM 23:4

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling – Deluxe Edition Pink Cover: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Jesus Calling®) (p. 134). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.


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