In this message we continue our look at the topic of community, by contemplating the reality of our deaths.
"Alexander the great is said to have directed that he be buried with his naked arm hanging out of his coffin, with his hand empty, to show the world that the man who conquered the world left it as he entered it; naked. ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb; naked I return.’”
“You learn more at a funeral than at a feast— After all, that's where we'll end up. We might discover something from it.”
Ecclesiastes 7:2, MSG
“Of all the world’s wonders which is most wonderful?
That no man, though he sees others dying all around him,
believes that he himself will die.”
From the Mahabharata; an ancient Hindu philosophical text.
“The thing we desperately need is to face the way it is.”
Theresa Mancuso, New York Hermit
“But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I'll probably never fully understand. We're not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it's over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we'll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true: Death swallowed by triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh, Death? Oh, Death, who's afraid of you now? It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!”
1 Corinthians 15:50-52, MSG
Six questions to help you think about community (to post on your fridge...)
1. How deep and intimate a spirituality are you planning for in your life?
2. What is the commitment that you bring to creating a place for that here at New Hope?
3. What choices are you currently facing regarding your part in the future of this faith community?
4. What gifts do you possess (have you been given) that haven’t been brought into this community?
5. What is the story you keep telling yourself about the problems of this church community?
6. What is your contribution to the very thing that concerns you?
“Jesus’ whole message is one of life-giving. He came to give life and give it abundantly. He came to take away the blockages that prevent the flow of life. The glory of God, wrote Irenaeus in the second century, is people fully alive, fully living. Jesus came to announce good news to the poor, freedom to the oppressed and imprisoned, and sight to the blind. He came to liberate, to open up new doors and avenues; he came to take away guilt, to heal, make whole and save. And he asks his disciples [us] to continue in this mission of life-giving, of fecundity and of liberation. This is the mission of every Christian community.”
Jean Vanier, Community and Growth
“The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn't even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, "That's mine; you can't have it." They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus,
and grace was on all of them.”
The Acts of the Apostles, 4:32-33, MSG