March 30, 2013

Reflections: Easter sunrise service a Christian gathering with nonsectarian spirit

By BILL GREGORY

(Continued from page 1)

REFLECTIONS is a column written by members of Maine's faith-based community. Opinions expressed in the column reflect the author's view and not necessarily that of the newspaper.

If we in the churches genuinely want to be a part of the life of the spirit in our day, we need to find and learn from those who are seeking and finding "God" in other than traditional ways and places. I don't think these conversations can be held in church buildings, at least not at first. Living rooms, coffee shops, outdoor settings, libraries come to mind as appropriate. In an open collaborative conversation, we will honor the celebration and practice of our faith and faithfulness in the ways of service and friendship we have learned in the places and belief systems that have nurtured us to this day. And we will learn how we can change to more openly and affirmatively share common cause with seekers in other churches and seekers outside our churches.

Joy will expand in communities of faith unafraid to engage with other seekers in spiritual dialogue, practice, celebration and the work and ways of justice. Some we meet there will join our churches. But faithfulness isn't about congregational size. It is about spiritual adventure and social justice. It is about listening for the spirit of God heard in what Cummings calls "that gay great happening, illimitably earth."

How about this dream of a new day? With an openness and a genuine welcome that can become embrace, seekers both in and outside churches, prodded by acknowledged spiritual longing and shared stories of spiritual experience, will enthusiastically (a word grown from the Greek "entheos," which means "God within") gather to share stories and sing. We will help one another to deeper understanding and joy using words of poetry and doctrine that lift the human spirit. And of what will we sing? Among the many wonderful things we will sing of the resurrection of love over fear, of life over death, of Christ alive understood in deeper and imaginative new dimensions. To some degree that dream is realized at sunrise on Easter mornings at Sandy Point, Cousins Island, when we sing, as an opening to the Cousins Island sunrise service, "The Spirit of God is moving. Let the wind rush in."

 

Contact Bill Gregory, an author and retired minister, at:

gregor1@maine.rr.com

 

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