January 30, 2007

Spiritual intimacy, Part III
Corporate practice

I remain perplexed and frustrated by the difficulty I have with articulating my yearning for Friends to reclaim or understand the corporate nature of our faith. I laugh at myself sometimes, though, (1) because it isn't up to me to have our corporate practices revitalized; and (2) because I think I have seen clear examples of moving together as a body in the most unexpected places, like television reality shows.

Take the television show The Biggest Loser, for example. One of the episodes had the remaining contestants do a mini-triathalon of swimming, biking, and running. If I remember correctly, they were no longer in teams at this point of the show; they were competing individually.

During the swimming, one of the men just couldn't keep up and in fact seemed to be struggling. The other women and men were pretty far along in the swimming portion of the challenge, but one of the contestants called out to the group and suggested to them that they swim back to the struggling swimmer. They ended up all finishing the swimming portion together; no one had balked at the idea of being slowed down by their fellow contestant (unless of course it was edited out!); and the group all began the second leg of the triathalon together, too.

The corporate nature of our faith is something like that, moving together as a group, in synch with the Spirit and with each other, as to how fast to move, what direction to head, and how to get the finish line--together. Sometimes it means waiting on a single Friend who seems to be struggling and who clearly wants to be connected with and bound to the movement of the group. Sometimes it means we must labor with that Friend until at least he or she is clear that the work of the Spirit is somehow being impeded, and so he or she must yield and, as we say, "stand aside."

When we engage in corporate discernment, when we take the time to welcome a new committee member and bring that Friend up to speed, or when we involve even the youngest community member in our meetinghouse clean-up days, we are extending an opportunity for growing and moving together. We are demonstrating a bit of spiritual hospitality that, when our own time of struggle comes, might be extended to us.

It is not only a case of "Let us try what Love can do."

It is also a case of Let Love try us.


Spiritual intimacy, the original post in the series
Spiritual intimacy, part II
The slippery nature of our corporate faith

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