Henry Nouwen wrote ….
- The crisis in the lives of many caring Christians today is closely connected with the feeling of not belonging.
- Without a sense of being sent by a caring community, a compassionate life cannot last long and quickly degenerates into a life marked by numbness and anger.
Those lines ring so true. For many the church is not the safe harbor from which we are sent forth to compassionately serve with love, but instead becomes a bastion of estrangement, a place of sorting, a place of degraded, privatized faith where the Word is used as a set of directions for parsing who gets to heaven and who goes to hell, and not as a story of hope, peace, reconciliation and resurrection.
The result of that estrangement? Numbness and anger.
And yet different approaches abound, antidotes to numbness and anger, churches that move us back to a community of compassion, a matrix out of which healing and service grows.
Such churches understand faith as a flow of energy. As an environment. As an ecosystem. Not as mono-culture. Such churches – breathing – are not without mechanics, doctrine and structure, but those three now serve. They create, as it were, the banks of the river but they are not confused with the river.