The Value of Common
This image we are using during the season of ordinary time is a beautiful representation of the God we worship, a divine community of 3 persons including Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When I reflect on this image and God as a community I ask myself what lies in that common space between them. It must a rich place where things like goodness, kindness, love and peace must flourish. A space of shared memory, ancient conversation and eternal hope dwell.
With the incarnation of Jesus we are also invited into that community, to join in this divine dance. But how does this play out in practice?
This is a stark contrast to the legendary Greek gods who vie for power over each other and bicker amongst themselves. Last year we, as a community, spent 11 weeks unpacking the beatitudes as recorded in Matthew chapter 5. These ways of being that Jesus promoted reflect the triune nature of God. A nature that keeps them eternally bound together.
The passage of scripture that follows on from the beatitudes says:
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses it’s saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
I love the logical, absolute nature of this statement by Jesus in relation to the beatitudes. If your life reflects some of these ways of being, then you will be as salt to the earth, you will be a light to the world, and consequently people will take note of your good deeds and find connection with God themselves.
For those that have been on the journey of faith for a long time I think we tend to underestimate the power of these attributes that are the essence of God; not only the beatitudes but things like goodness, kindness, gentleness and patience.
Doctrinal differences and statements of faith seem to capitalise our attention more these days, yet Jesus is saying our ways of being are much more powerful and important than what we think and know. When my father died, people didn’t speak about how right he was, only how good he was.
I believe the thing that defines any community of people, particularly our community of faith at Edge, above anything else is how we treat each other, much more than our statement of belief, our vision or mission statement.
What I love about community is that we choose to share the best of each other, out of that space the worst withers and dies. As I may struggle with kindness and patience from time to time, others excel and the more time we spend in a common space together, the more we shape each other’s lives. That sounds like a divine community to me.
That doesn’t negate space for doubt, questioning and uncertainty. Those are also good within such a community. I think it’s time we revalue the more ordinary and common aspects of our faith. Not to try and manufacture them, but value them as we see and discover them in each other as Holy Spirit continues to shape and transform us. Those things that bind us together, bring flavour to the world around us, and light to those who need it.
Over the holidays my boys and I visited a place called the Coffin. It’s a water hole (shaped like a coffin) out at Piha you can jump into from the surrounding rock formations. When we arrived there was a girl standing at the highest point trying to gather courage over 45 minutes to jump in. Over the space of the next 10 minutes the boys and I plucked up our own courage to jump in and in so doing the girl finally found the courage to jump in too. We all cheered and clapped at her success. Sometimes salt and light, those common metaphors of life can look as simple as that, but are memorable and life changing.