“To take communion is to participate in God’s action. It is to not only receive, to be filled, but also to extend to others God’s forgiveness as we have been forgiven. Thus, we are instructed to be rightly prepared to receive the sacrament. We not only come to God in humility and receive the broken body and spilled blood, we also know and accept that our neighbor is not only worthy to receive such a gift but we also expect that our neighbor will be loved as we are loved. Conversely, we expect that we will be empowered by God to be loved by our neighbor as our neighbor knows God’s love as well.
Communion is the expression of God’s desire for our community to be in unity and to partake, to commune, of God’s gifts of life, forgiveness, salvation and hope as well as love and peace.
If God forgives us our sins, doesn’t look at them to see our perfection because that comes through Christ, so also with our good deeds done in God’s name. They do not have to be in order for us to be saved. Faith alone, through God’s grace alone, saves us. So whether I fail to do good or I succeed in spreading goodwill, it is of no consequence. That I do it in God’s name, honoring and faithful to the One who is honoring and faithful to me, empowered and sustained solely by His Spirit, that is what God cherishes…only and through Christ.”
I think I wrote this, because I didn’t put the author on it in my files. So I’ll say it’s mine unless someone corrects me and then I am truly sorry for not keeping the author with the writing.
But I believe this. That religion is a vehicle to spirituality, like Yoga, or Karate, or a 12-step program or the Kama Sutra. The means by which we open ourselves to spirituality, the means by which we are opened to the being in us which is the spiritual is the means by which we begin to practice that essence in the world. A turban, knowledge of the body’s mannerisms and characteristics, are helpful means, but they are not the spirituality we seek. For me, this comes through a God who is ultimately responsible for all creation, all love and goodness, who has the power to destroy but does not, even when we fail to offer what we have received from that God. This is, for me, the ultimate spirituality. It’s not always been this way for me.
AT times, I have looked for, hungered for my spiritual side and gone to the ways of the body, being promiscuous, overeating, overindulging in libations, sacrificially attempting to fill my needs by means of cravings and indulgences that are contrary to that which I seek. It becomes a pit, each of these means, that mires me in self-pity and self-righteousness.
For me, and it took me years to find this, the resurrection story of Christ is the means, the grace, by which my spiritual side became open. Death to self, to personal control, to desire for self-gratification, and reliance on the governing energy of love, unconditional, honest, aware, and never-ending has begun the transformation from my overweight, grumpy, catty being to the more patient, serving, kindness that brings me joy and peace. It’s odd. Those stupid rules of the commandments have become the ten best ways to live. Those confining rationales of disciplines have become ways that free me to serve others and to do more—and less—than I had previously attempted to get done.
“God gives us enough time in every day to do what God wants done” is a quote on a card shared with me by a friend. So the extra lunch is often followed by a smaller supper, or popcorn and wine. So the time spent indulging in writing is followed by times of visiting people in the real world, keeping me grounded. The time spent cooking is followed by the time spent cleaning up…worry is replaced by prayer and smut novels by something with a cleaner plotline. Not to say I don’t try those occasionally…they just no longer appeal or give me the thrill they once did.
This may be too random a collection of my thoughts, but it seems that the dismissal of religion per se is too rash as is the embracing of the understanding that my own experience is the governing force in my spiritual growth. It is in community that we hone our selves, practice our beliefs, and serve our selves—are spiritually fed–as well as the other. My beliefs, then, need a connection to that community in order to be received. Otherwise I am a plane flying into a building to kill thousands of people to whom my sacrifice makes no sense and only inflames outrage in the survivors. Sacrifice only makes sense in a system that agrees the sacrifice is necessary and appropriate. Thus 12-step support groups help us out of places that take us to physical death. Thus the church is, ideally, a place where love and forgiveness is practiced most readily and heartily. Thus the family is the place where manners and acceptance are first and foremost the agenda of the day.
My spiritual being, my essence, comes from a source far greater than my body, the limitations of time and space, and for that awareness to matter, it’s important that I seek understanding beyond my capacity to become more fully that which I am created to be.
Hmmm… pretty weird thoughts for a Thursday morning.