Cultivating Communities of Faith, Hope and Love…
Faith, hope and love. These are gifts that emerge out of the biblical story. These are the gifts which sustain community. Words, stories, community. God’s story, composting in the soil under our bare feet, cultivating our journey into the beloved community.
In the biblical creation story, God speaks and moves. Without a prototype or patent–light, darkness, water, earth, plants, trees, sun, moon, stars, beasts and sea creatures–an explosion of life and symbiotic systems breathing.
God breathes into dust (adam). Humanity inhales. Spirit, oxygen. Exhales carbon dioxide. Earth inhales. Photosynthesis. Life. A seamless symbiosis of creature and creation. Molecules and energy…being and time. Imago dei. Genetic fingerprints of divine handiwork. Spirit and matter. It is good.
Without explanation, chronos and telos merge. Order and chaos. The tick tock of time within eternity .
Agriculture, biology, linguistics, political science, theology…this was the curriculum in that first semester of human existence. God moves humans into their new home and hands out the syllabus: tend the garden, name the genus and species of things, know and be known, freedom is a gift that can turn sour. Existence brings the possibility of good and evil.
In the garden story we see our own story. It is the human story. We see beauty and ugliness within and without. Eviction. Restorative justice. Garden existense has proven difficult. The freedom to exist has produced much pain. We do our own thing. We hurt others. We hurt ourselves. We run. We hide. Things are not as they should be.
Sometimes. As we are tilling the field of our own discontent. Something emerges…sprouts out of the rubble of weakness and shame. A tenuous sprout. Growing among the earthen shards ancient and new. Faith. Hope. Love. Seeds must die. Manure is good fertilizer. Don’t plant too early. The frost will get them. Thatch and straw are good protective cover.
Love. A seed of redemption and liberation planted into the soil of human history. In the womb of the young girl, God becomes a fetus. Organic fusion of time and eternity. God and the human condition. Creator, as it turns out, is also Lover. Redeemer. Cosmos is loved and pursued. Humanity becomes a grain of wheat. Scattered and gathered. Crushed to make flour. Bread.
Jesus comes to us as he talks with a Samaritan woman at a well. As he invites himself to the home of a tree-climbing tax-collector–a son of Abraham. Jesus comes to us on a donkey in the public square. At table in an upper room. Jesus stoops to wash our feet. We are self-conscious. Our feet have stepped in some messy places. They are ugly. Jesus washes.
Jesus comes to us on a cross, in a tomb. He comes to us on a road where we walk deep in conversation with many doubts and questions. We don’t recognize him.
Jesus comes to us in the naked and poor, the prisoner, the depressed, the abused. We don’t recognize him.
Jesus comes to us in the changing seasons that produce a bumper crop of grapes. Crushed and fermented. Wine. Jesus comes to us in the bread and cup. The bread of Life. The cup of salvation. The communal meal. Feeding our hunger. Nourishing the community of Faith, Hope and Love.