A Church without walls: My gift to you this Holiday Season
Recently, at my Church, we have been discussing a concept, which we dubbed, ‘a Church without Walls.’ Just as I do, perhaps you know of several Churches that bear that name. But the name of a church is not what was being discussed. The Church without Walls that we were discussing in our Church introduced a spiritual concept that has to do with being able to cross lines of division for the purpose of reaching and helping others. It also relates to connecting with others in a way that demonstrates the unity of the Creator. This is achieved through practices of caring, sharing, and loving; trust, honor, and respect.
As I listened to the teaching, I was reminded that the socialization of humanity is rooted in exclusion. When individuals’ identities are shaped by age, socio-economic status, religious icons, language, lived and historical experiences, education levels, etc., the individuals develop a particular perspective or view of themselves, others, and the world, in general. Sadly, these perspectives represent lines of division, in particular, lines of superiority and inferiority, lines of insider versus outsider, lines of us versus them, to name a few. As a result, much of humanity is conflicted.
With the season of Christmas upon us, I feel moved to mention the personality of Christ to drive home the point of a Church without Walls. Christ serves as a wonderful example of one who navigated lines of division. In fact, he not only crossed them, he defied and dismantled them. Much like it is today, religion during biblical times, created a thick wall of division. Ironically, by religious standards, Christ was a devil, a rebellious heathen, at minimum. Christ would heal on days deemed for rest; he would engage with forbidden sects of the population, such as drunkards; he would insist on the forgiveness of adulterous women, whom the society thought should be stoned. At the core of his actions was ‘love,’ a desire that all mankind should experience the grace and mercy of his Father. Christ was establishing the principle of a church without walls, a skillful way of engaging with those who may have needed a bridge to cross over troubled waters.
In another instance, the Church without Walls relates to the recognition of shared faith, despite what may be differences in terminology. In the latter instance, one must be able to see beyond the wall, to see into the essence of one’s heart. I’m reminded of my relationship with two of my Muslim friends, Patricia and Gaynell. While our verbal expressions of faith are quite different, we all share a fundamental desire to please our Creator. We don’t allow the words Muslim and Christian to become as a wall. We don’t allow the persons of Jesus and Muhammad to become as a wall, neither are we divided by the books of the Bible and the Koran. Instead, we find common ground in the spirit, and in the spirit, we all attend the same place of worship, a church without walls.
This holiday, as my gift to you, I invite you to attend with me. Bring a neighbor with you. This is not an invitation to a physical building. Instead, it is an ever-expanding place in the spirit, where peace and love abide continually.
As always, it’s been my pleasure spending time with you, my friend. Wishing you a happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year! And remember, I’m counting on you to stay In My Korner.