And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:11-14 (NIV)~
“Today the individual has become the highest form . . . The smallest wound or pain of the ego is examined under a microscope as if it were of eternal importance. The artist considers his isolation, his subjectivity, his individualism almost holy. Thus we finally gather in one large pen, where we stand and bleat about our loneliness without listening to each other and without realizing that we are smothering each other to death. The individualists stare into each other’s eyes and yet deny each other’s existence. We walk in circles, so limited by our own anxieties that we can no longer distinguish between true and false, between the gangster’s whim and the purest ideal.” Ingmar Bergman~
Two religions prevail in America today. Christianity provides community. Modernity imposes isolation.
I had occasion this week to peek at life in a small liturgical church whose traditions I’d not witnessed before. Beauty dwells in that place. A beauty different from the magnificence of grand cathedrals. Natural light pours through clear windows; from within, lit candles stand tall around the altar area and above on a chandelier.
The natural forms of light bring opportunity for contemplation and an appreciation for the preparation before we arrive. Someone lights all those candles. That’s not our usual way today as we expect modern amenities along with efficiency to accompany our worship.
And we expect comfort as well. At this church, while a few benches line the wall, most people stand. Families worship on their feet. Parents carry babes in backpacks or belly slings.
Older children stand, sometimes moving around to light a candle or use the bathroom. No special children’s program separates them. No clenched teeth shushes and admonitions to SIT STILL dampen their affinity for the place and the rites.
Mothers stand holding babies within themselves.
I remember an old British literary work (but I can’t remember which one) in which a character commented that Christianity was for old women and the vulgar.
Yet in this candlelit place, the ratio of men to women is pretty even. The age demographic is nowhere near old. This church is young and burgeoning with life.
As SCOTUS continues to ponder Dobbs and Roe, we see the contrast between an encouraging community and our outer society of atomized individualists walking in circles and denying each other’s existence.
Even to the point of denying each other’s right to exist.
“Abortion long ago became a natural symbol for the loss of a spiritual center. Not divine law, but individual will is the measure, and rejecting the child within the body becomes its expression. Challenging Roe v. Wade is not a matter of standing in judgment against women, but of changing a culture of death.” Glenn Arbery~
By example, the young men and women in this small community of faith challenge this culture of death. As they accept the children they bear, as they take Communion, they renounce modernity’s cry for me, myself, and I.
“Abortion is the Antichrist’s demonic parody of the Eucharist. That is why it uses the same holy words, ‘This is my body,’ with the blasphemously opposite meaning.” – Dr. Peter Kreeft~
This small church is not an ideal community. There aren’t any. God doesn’t expect any church to be perfect, just humble.
There is a way to overcome the darkness of atomization and present the light of Christ’s community to the world.
Such a way begins in small communities loving each other and shining light to the rest.
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)~