The Look That Gives Life
Christian spirituality begins with images of God in relation to Christ; with Christ's own vision of God and how this was understood by his followers. Specifically with the vision of God: of God seeing us and looking upon us in a manner that gives us life.
Our earliest witness to the Good News, St Paul, was captivated and converted by a visceral vision of Jesus Christ as the Risen Man, who had pioneered a path through death to a form of Resurrection Life which not only offered Christians a future but which was available and accessible to help them engage creatively with the world as they experienced it here and now, including the powers that be - Hellenistic thinking, Gentile customs and Roman rule.
The four Gospels, written later and profoundly influenced by deep, prolonged trauma - war, social upheaval, dispersal and persecution, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple and a widening gulf between Christians and Jews - offer a complementary vision. They show us God as a loving Creator, Parent, Ruler and Deliverer, intent on creating a kingdom of abundant life available to all; Jesus as the One who, through his life, teaching, ministry and Passion Journey made this vision real for ordinary people whatever their circumstances; and the Spirit as an advocate, counsellor, teacher and guide to the challenges of discipleship, of living out Jesus' message in the Jesus Way and passing it on.
Why go to Church?
I want to go because I really want to go; because entering the sacred space puts me in touch with something elemental, with someone who is the ground of my being.
I want to go because entering that ground puts me in touch with something that is fundamental to me, essential to me, that re-energises me.
I want to go because in going there I am returning to my point of origin, to the Source of my life. Not just because it is the place where it all began, where I began, where my life began, but because it is the place where the current of life that feeds me is still welling up, still springing forth, still flowing and over-flowing, and by returning there, I am going home.
By re-connecting myself with that Source once more, I can receive anew the life that gave me birth. By immersing myself in that current of life again, I am replenished, revived, re-born. Amongst others who are also being reborn.
Life begets life. Just as the life of the Father engendered the life of the Son, not only in the Incarnation, but also in the Resurrection, so it is living images - or images of life - that engender life in our minds and hearts, souls and spirits.
If we want the Church to live, then we must think of it as alive. We must envisage it and imagine it alive and breathing; an animated Body; organically inter-connected and inter-dependent; fleshy, impassioned and often bloody-minded, but definitely on the move.
And then we act as if this is true.