These last few days I have been busy reflecting and actively discussing our recent live stream gathering that took place this last Sunday at 11 AM. Now, before the gathering, my expectations were very low. But since the experience, I want to say how very grateful I am for the participation of those who showed up, as well as for those who have since “caught up.” I also want to say that I am feeling very encouraged, for I believe that we have begun a conversation that is compelling and worth continuing. I can only hope you feel the same way!
One of the participants in our gathering recently posed the following question, “So the chasm, from what I hear you saying, is nothing we can cross outside of Christ?” My first knee-jerk response to her question was to say, “Yeah, Jesus closes all the chasms that we cannot bridge.” But then I went back and listened to our session, and I discovered that my answer was a bit of a misfire. If I were to summarize my message, I would say that the big idea is not simply that Jesus is the “fix” to our problems. The deeper point that I want us to consider is that there are certain chasms that must be faced and crossed. The first is what I call the “classic chasm”, the chasm between God and the individual, which is effectively bridged through faith in Jesus Christ. But just around the bend, there lies yet another chasm . . .
Thankfully, my nephew Jordan posted the following comment, “I wanted to drop in and say that I enjoyed the tie-in with the aforementioned ‘bridging’ and it being not only an “us to God” but also the bridge of Natural with the Spiritual.” His comment immediately got me back on track with where we are headed in this conversation and where we need to go. For it is with this particular chasm, the one that separates the natural from the spiritual and the sacred from the secular, that we are presently concerned. I recently shared regarding my own struggle, how for the past 35 years I have sought in vain to find a bridge capable of spanning the chasm.
Now, historically, religion has served as a reliable bridge between the two spheres, heaven, and earth. But now if we are honest, religion is no longer the bridge it once was. In my experience, as well as a few of my friends, religion has seemingly “run out of gas” – it simply lacks the power and the wisdom to bridge and unite heaven and earth. Thus, we are left with a split-screen reality and bipolar faith.
With this current post, we are well on our way into the next installment of our series: “Who is Christ for Us Today?” And, in advance of our next gathering, I am inviting your participation to help move the conversation forward. Let’s explore this issue together by sharing in the comment section (Facebook or the OC site) our own personal challenges, disappointments, questions, and discoveries pertaining to our current discussion, “Faith and the Real World.”
Now as we grapple with this issue, let’s stay mindful of the temptation to return to the “classic chasm” for our answers. In other words, we will not be able to bridge the “heaven and earth” chasm with another appeal to “getting saved” or to our own “personal revival”, worthy as both of those things are. Lastly, let’s be mindful of the temptation to call in the deus ex machina, the “god of the gaps” to bail us out.
Why has it taken so long for us to have this conversation? Well, perhaps it is because no one likes admitting defeat. But there came a point for some of us, where we simply could no longer stomach another meal from the spiritual-sushi-go-round. In search of health and belonging, some of my friends have opted to return to the “mothership”, either Catholicism or Eastern Orthodox. I genuinely sympathize with their felt need to make the move. If I could, I would as well, but I just can’t do it (topic for another conversation). That said, I no longer have a relationship with the “spiritual service industry.” For now, anyway, I guess you could say, I have opted for the spiritual orphanage.
So, in bringing the OC back online, it was my intention and my desire to start or rather to open up a conversation to others (a conversation that I have been forging with a group of close friends for over a decade now). My hope for the OC is that this will be a place where life and faith (theology with both head and heart) are getting worked out among friends – a risky conversation among a safe and supportive cohort. Now as we all know, a digital/virtual network is a fragile medium, but together we can make it something more, something personal, something real! See you this Sunday!