Religion is just a word referring to the human effort to respond to the imperatives of the Spirit. Religion is how we do what God requires of us, so don’t buy into the silly nonsense that some religious activity is somehow better than “mere religion.” We should not allow misguided folks to debase the meaning of the word. I teach religion because genuine spirituality cannot be put into words.
My religion needs some adjustments. It’s not a question of the underlying mission, but of the means and methods. Neither the message nor the mission has changed, but there is an intervening step. There is something yet to be accomplished on the way.
To the degree you regard yourself a part of this parish and what it represents, you and I must learn the ways of virtual fellowship. On the one hand, it’s the same fellowship of believers from ancient times. On the other hand, this is a new thing, and you certainly won’t find much about it in Scripture. Still, I knew several decades ago that holiness and faith touches something that does not suffer the limits of time and space. I’m not sure what I can do about the time factor, but I do know that you and I could learn to overcome much more of the space factor than has yet been tried. That is, almost everything we do has a measure of newness even if it appears on the surface the same as what other Christians do.
We will have to learn the ways of long-distance communion. This was simply not possible in Bible times, so we are blazing a fresh trail in that sense. There is a trade-off in there, but I sense we have a small advantage. We lose the warmth of the physical human touch. Yet, in the another sense, we can touch the entire globe, in theory at least. But I tell you a secret: It’s the desire that makes us holy, not the achievement. Okay, I’ve said that before. It’s the sense of longing that constitutes love and communion, not the actual physical proximity. If Jesus can heal long distance (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10), we can experience the miracle of love and fellowship long distance.
This is not meant to bind you to my experience of the mission. It’s just another lesson wholly consistent with Christian Mysticism. It’s already a lesson you have to learn for this parish, because I don’t know any of you close enough to visit with in the flesh. As your pastor, I simply extend this lesson as a standard feature of this religion that fits the context.
So this simplifies my prayer requests. Granted, you understand by now that our minds were given by God to organize and implement the imperatives of the heart. Real prayer goes beyond words, but to share with you means I give you something you can remember.
We still need to move from our current residence. Much as I and the contractors will try to clean it up, once mold moves into a home made of such materials, it’s permanent. For my own health, I need to move as soon as the Lord permits. The only useful guidance I have there is that we find a place relatively close to where my wife works. For me it’s enough that we simply avoid sources of allergens.
Just about any place to call “home” will do because I suspect my near-term future mission will include some travel. That is, I need a job, and about the only sensible thing I can think of is what’s on my resume [PDF] already. More to the point, I’m hoping I can work at something that brings me into contact with military folks. Off the top of my head, I think a primary example would be personal assistant to someone with a substantial defense contract. However, the primary objective is a broad exposure to folks in uniform.
As previously noted, there are plenty of folks searching who aren’t going to search on the Internet for something like the religious teaching here. So we have to go to them and live our faith in such a way they reach out for it. I’ve been warned in my spirit not to expect many, just a few scattered here and there. While I believe I would be most effective working among military folks, you have to decide for yourself where God says you’ll find the harvest of souls. For me, there is the added bonus that the military mandatory transience would mean the faith is spread farther yet into corners none of us might ever go. So while the Net is a primary means of our fellowship and sharing, it’s not the primary means of reaching folks.
And here’s another point: Some of you can write books on this faith just as well as I do. You have your own story to tell. Some of you promote my books and you can be sure I’ll pass that on to other writers. Show me what you’ve got. There are limits, of course, just as you should likely have reservations about things I write. Still, let’s not pretend my stuff is the only thing in our parish library. If your blog covers similar stuff, let me know. The blog roll can surely be expanded. This is not for a close circle of elite insiders. If not writing, then music or some other expression of faith that can be shared would be a welcome treat.
I warned yesterday that the task before us is monumental, so we had better get started, and the sooner the better. Share with us your narratives of people awakening.