The word of God came unto me,
Sitting alone among the multitudes;
And my blind eyes were touched with light.
And there was laid upon my lips a flame of fire.
I laugh and shout for life is good,
Though my feet are set in silent ways.
In merry mood I leave the crowd
To walk in my garden. Ever as I walk
I gather fruits and flowers in my hands.
And with joyful heart I bless the sun
That kindles all the place with radiant life.
I run with playful winds that blow the scent
Of rose and jasmine in eddying whirls.
At last I come where tall lilies grow,
Lifting their faces like white saints to God.
While the lilies pray, I kneel upon the ground;
I have strayed into the holy temple of the Lord.
In A Sacrifice of Praise, James H. Trott, editor (Cumberland House 2006; stanzas slightly modified)
The Rock (excerpt from Section X of Choruses)
by TS Eliot
О Greater Light, we praise Thee for the less;
The eastern light our spires touch at morning,
The light that slants upon our western doors at evening.
The twilight over stagnant pools at batflight,
Moon light and star light, owl and moth light,
Glow-worm glowlight on a grassblade.
О Light Invisible, we worship Thee!
We thank Thee for the lights that we have kindled,
The light of altar and of sanctuary;
Small lights of those who meditate at midnight
And lights directed through the coloured panes of windows
And light reflected from the polished stone,
The gilded carven wood, the coloured fresco.
Our gaze is submarine, our eyes look upward
And see the light that fractures through unquiet water.
We see the light but see not whence it comes.
О Light Invisible, we glorify Thee!
In T.S Eliot: Collected Poems 1909-1962 (HBJ 1963)
If you go to church, are you happy with it? I don’t mean happy with what the church does for you only, but are you happy with what it does and how it follows Christ? Unfortunately, actually, I’ve attended many churches. It would have been great to have gone to one church from the beginning and stayed with, and developed, life-long relations within that body, just like it’s a real (and wonderful!) family. But eventually with my original church, the leadership there fell apart. After that, I went to different churches for different reasons – scriptural and spiritual (these can be reasons to stay or to leave), or strange difficulties with people, or simply moving too far away. So, my point is, I’ve experienced different Christian leadership groups, how they do things, what they emphasize, etc.
I’m bringing this up in a post because we’ve been searching for a home church since we moved to this city. We went to one for a while that has a lot of good going for it, it seems, yet after a while we just saw too many things that we didn’t think were scriptural or spiritual or healing . . . so we began looking again. We’ve been going to one that we like a lot, though it has an extroverted “culture” (and we’re more introverted). There are a lot of great people there, they emphasize Christ’s church in the world and being an active Christian (this is good and necessary, but that doesn’t mean one has to be an extrovert), and they seem spiritual. Besides the emphasis on extroversion, there’s a major thing that is bothering me, and my family, about this church, but for privacy reasons I’m not going to get into it.
The thing is, why is it so hard to find a church where the body simply follows Christ? Not the laws and regulations of Israel, but the radical message of Christ? Why are so many into money? Being a poor person for a while now (we’re not in complete poverty, but if we didn’t have some savings to live off of right now, we would be), I notice a number of things I didn’t notice before. It just is a real turn-off when wealthy leadership talks about what blessings they have and how God is good, when you don’t have those things . . . at all . . . yet they ask for money from you.
Sacrificial giving is good, for sure, but it still seems wrong when wealthy people ask for poor peoples’ money . . . Christ came to help the poor, and in the Old Testament God talks much of helping the poor and not cheating them. This issue is why I mentioned “witness” in the title. Christianity seems like such a money-grabbing faith so often – at least nonbelievers pick up on this from stories in the media. Yet the New Testament teaches that people should give out of love and desire, with a happy heart, not out of compulsion, and the church is not just for the wealthy and should not favor the wealthy (in fact, many of Christ’s words emphasize the opposite). And instead of demanding more funds from people to have a bigger building, say, perhaps the fellowship should divide into smaller related churches. In any case . . .
Getting back to a previous issue: extrovertism. Does anyone wish they could worship and fellowship with a more introverted crowd, in a more introverted way? Does anyone think living more like a monk, in a monkish community – one that is also doing Christ’s work in the world around them – would be great (but I don’t know, maybe your fellowship is already like this*)? I wish I could have that, do that. I wish I could invest in buildings on a large property that would be a community of Christians. A thankful, contemplative, prayerful, creative, and safe community committed to Christ and what He said and copying what He did (hey, sure, that might include upsetting someone’s cheating “money cart” once in a while . . . or often). This would be a happy place. But is it possible today? I don’t know. It seems impossible today. Far too many people today seem to latch on to something, some belief, that is not necessary for salvation and hold it up higher than Christ. It’s weird, and the church is weirdly divided.
Thanks for reading what is essentially a vent (though I DO wonder if people think the same) . . . and God bless you!
* We live in a very busy, urban, and expensive cultural area.