Monday, November 17, 2008
Balance of Sprituality
I hope that you liked that Carl Lewis youtube video posted below, maybe we can use his words of motivation to go on and fight out the next few years of organizing work that we have to do!
Anyway, I went to Church yesterday and had some really good reflections. The sermon that Pastor Tim spoke about was the balance of spirituality and the need for each and every one of us to have encompass two different forms to be truly whole.
The first being to be in deep communion with God, this means spending time in meditation and prayer. This can come through a number of different ways. The first being the tradition of the Quakers.
The Quaker tradition empathizes being quiet and knowing that God is speaking. So much of the time that we spend in prayer it is simply us speaking, talking to God, but never keeping our mouths shut enough to listen to God's reply. The Quaker tradition does this through silent communal meditation where we allow God to speak to us, whatever is relevant and important in our lives at the moment, the Quaker tradition teaches us the importance of listening as well as speaking.
Furthermore, I believe that deep communion with God can also be found within the tradition of Catholicism and although I have never been Catholic the traditions of ritual and transcendence that are so ever popular in the Catholic traditions allow us to transcend the everyday to a place of holy reverence. The space that many Catholic churches encompass with elaborate decor and imagery take us out of the everyday as we enter the place of God, there is nowhere in my opinion that allows us to feel in a haven of God more than in a Catholic Church. With this combination of steadfast tradition and time spent in deep prayer as well as the physical space that we enter in a Catholic church, I find that I am able to attend to a sense of yearning for God that doesn't come out of my own tradition.
There however, I think is a balance of spirituality amongst the personal and the social and when it comes to the social context of my faith, I feel that it can be best attained in my own tradition: United Methodist.
When I enter Memorial United Methodist on any given Sunday I feel the great attention to community that is played out in the space, a deep commitment to others who have attended there for so long and a sense that the Kingdom of God cannot be found within ones self mutually. The strong commitment to social justice and the poor, our work within our neighborhoods and communities is so ever important in the United Methodist Church. At Memorial we take time out in the service to spend children's time with the kids so they too feel apart of the community. When Pastor Tim says its time to peace, we may never know when he'll be able to wrangle everyone back together to get back to the service.
In order to fulfill the complete commitment to Christ as Christians, we must be able to attend to all aspects of our faith, to the spiritual and to the social. All of the traditions that I mentioned are all doing degrees of both.
While the Quakers spend time in silent mediation with God on Sundays, they are also highly active in the anti-war movement and anti poverty measures, the commitment that the Friends have to social justice is fantastic.
The Catholics while also having a very deep understanding and commitment to ritual and tradition, they to are active in their communities through the running of one of the largest social outreach programs in the city through the facilitation of food pantries, prison and drug ministries. They also have created one of the largest documents of any faith on social commentary called Catholic Social Teaching. This teaching was largely responsible for the liberation theology that spawned up in Central and South America when the poor realized that God had preferential treatment for the poor which gave them the power to build the uprising against hyper capitalist regimes in the Reagan era.
The United Methodist Church while also attending to the community of Christ, will also hold breakout sessions on how to walk the Labyrinth, how to understand God more fully and personally, and spends significant time trying to develop the spiritual side of its members.
For if we are to be Christians that can hold onto our foundations, we must have a solid grounding in both the sacred and secular aspects of our life and live them out in a Christ-like way. All of our traditions attempt to figure out that negotiation in very positive ways, we just need to be accessible to them.