Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Authentically Embodied Faith

Making It Real: How to Live as if Another World Were Already Here
Sojourners Magazine
January 2008
by Tom Sine

There is almost always something in Sojourners that is not only worth reading, but worth reading several times. This article by Tom Sine captured my attention this month. It's not so much that he is saying anything particularly new (but really, when we are talking about the Gospel, is any of it really new), but that he expresses his ideas so beautifully.

What Sine's article boils down to is that he is raising the question "How do we break out of the box of worship? How do we stop compartmentalizing and have our discipleship be our life instead of an add-on to what is "real." He hits on a way to embody our faith - to live as if another world (i.e. God's kingdom, God's vision of healing and wholeness for all of us) is already here.

Here is my favorite paragraph from the article: "How can we dream into, live into, serve into, and celebrate into that world which is already here? To answer this we need to revisit the rich biblical imagery of God's loving purposes for a people and a planet. We also need to journey with Jesus and those first disciples, paying particular attention to how they sought to embody images and values of God's new order by fashioning communities that were clearly counter to the societies in which they lived."

Sine goes on to put forth some captivating ideas about architecture and community and how we as human beings are called to live together. He also has a terrific description of the movie Babette's Feast as an example of the transforming, reconciling power of extravagant love.

So . . . how do WE go about authentically embodying our faith? It is not easy - we get so caught up in just keeping the machine running (packing lunches, getting the car fixed, keeping the clutter reasonably under control) that it can be hard to be conscious and intentional about living lives that are truly imitative of Christ's. It is also true that the needs of the world are so overwhelming that it is tempting just to shut down and bury ourselves in television and the administrivia of life. When I read about the violence in Kenya lately, my heart aches and I feel powerless to DO anything that makes a real difference. I am wondering, though, if in some cosmic way we do not ease the suffering of the world as a whole when we engage in acts of love and justice wherever we find ourselves.

I am not saying that we should not do whatever we can to help our neighbors in Kenya (and Iraq, and Darfur, and in Montgomery County. and everywhere. I am convinced that part of embodying our faith is to realize that the world is very small and even though it may occur on the other side of the planet the pain of another is never very far away. I do wonder, though, if hands-on, face to face encounters with the neighbor - those moments of clarity and creativity when we know instinctively that we have truly connected with another person and brought them the tiniest bit if healing and hope - maybe those are the moments when we really "get it," if only for a few seconds.

What are your "thin moments" - those instances when you feel a connection to the divine and to the other and know that in that moment your faith is real and lived? Those may be too personal to share in cyberspace, but would love to hear thoughts from readers about Sine's article and the idea of authentic embodiment.

Grace and peace,

Reverent Reader


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