Over the last month I have had the opportunity to work with many people across Aotearoa and further afield. In every retreat and seminar I have been with committed and faith-filled people who often feel as though they are on the periphery of the Church.
Of course this is not true since anyone who is seeking to live in relationship with Jesus, God living among us, is living at the heart of all life, the heart of the cosmos even and therefore at the centre of the church.
When we think we are going to the periphery of the church, or spending time with those who are considered to be outside the church, we discover that Christ is already living there and our understanding of the Church expands.
We begin to understand that it is possible for those who are most involved in the institutional church to be on the periphery in terms of relationship with Christ. These people may keep the rules and regularly observe the rituals but may see the Church as a human institution instead of as a divine perspective..
A few years ago I read a reflection about the moon as an image of the church since it has no light of its own but reflects the light of the sun. The sun (following the image) is Christ.
I like the image since it helps me to accept that there are phases in the life of the church, with each phase reflecting different aspects of the light of the sun.
When I struggle to see light in the church, rather than become disheartened, I remember that the sun, Christ, is still shining brightly.
In these moments I turn directly to Christ.
While it is not possible to live on the sun, I like the accessibility of the moon, the church.
When we live with this understanding, focussed on Christ, we find ourselves not at the periphery but at the centre of life.
A wise friend phoned me last night from a psychiatric care facility just as I was finishing this post. He asked me what I was up to and I explained that I was finishing this post and reflecting on the sun / moon theme. I asked him for a comment.
His response was a great inspiration for me:
FFF IN THE CAFE… Send your name and the name of a cafe or bar to email@example.com Scribble FFF on a table napkin, take a seat and wait.
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Monday 27 March 2023 (and every Monday)
10.00am at Moko (Kudos) in the Bush Inn Centre Christchurch (Directions) Trish
Tuesday 28 March 2023
5,30pm at Vondel, 8 Victoria Road, Devonport, Auckland. (Directions). Francisca
Wednesday 29 March 2023
10.30am at Cafe 28, 28 Cornwall St, Lower Hutt, (Directions) Catherine
Thursday 30 March 2023
10.30am at Zest Cafe Greeton 187 Chadwick Rd, Tauranga. (Directions) Frances
Monday 3 April 2023
11.00am at Fairlie Bakehouse, 74 Main Street, Fairlie. (Directions) Fr. Tien
Tuesday 11 April 2023 (and second Tuesday of every month)
10.30am at Zenders 44 Hopkins Road, Newstead, Hamilton (Directions). Christina
Amen to your friend’s beautiful and profound quote!
New Zealand used to have asylums now we have psychiatric care facilities. And recall this progress ?
A crazy everything, everywhere all at once or a life in Christ? Your guidance John is appreciated.
Food for thought …. yes I admit I have seen the church as a human institution nowadays. I shall reflect more deeply on this. Thank you
I like the image of ‘mysterium lunae’ and as Pope Francis reflects, whenever the church (and ourselves) think we have a light of our own, we’re in trouble. It’s time for us to be eccentric (off-centre) since it is Christ who is the real centre and ‘master of the house’.
Wow thank you so much for sharing all of these thoughts!