Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spiritual Health and the Church

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about spiritual health.  Partly because we’ve recently found a new church home and partly because of a classroom topic from last week.

In my Formation for Ministry class that meets once a week on Tuesday evenings we talked about loosing our ‘sensual spirituality’ and what to do to get it back.  I raised the question that I wasn’t even sure what the term ‘sensual spirituality’ met.  After all, how can one know what they’ve lost if they never knew if they had it in the first place?

As is was explained to me, sensual spirituality is having a strong sense of the presence of the Lord around now.  Not just a sense that he’s there watching over you in some sort of abstract way, rather it’s a sensibility that he is right there in the room with you, sitting next to you.  You feel as though you could reach out and touch him. 

OK, so now that I understood, at least partially, what he was talking about, I raised the concern that there were many people who didn’t have an experience like that and if they did it was usually during a specific circumstance, like during the death of a loved or some other difficult time in their life.  However, I raised some doubt about the fact that this ‘sensual spirituality’ is something that the ‘average’ person has on a regular basis.  I seemed to get some nods of approval from some of my classmates when I raised this concern and this seemed to surprise our professor a little.  This begs the question what does a healthy spiritual life look like? 

At church we’ve been trying to see about getting involved in a small group.  This is proving to be a little challenging partly because established groups are comfortable with each other and a bond of trust and acceptance has been achieved.  Also, size is always an issue – if a group gets too big, it gets too intimidating. 

This, of course, begs the question what to do when a new family joins the church.  How does a church enfold a new family in a way that doesn’t disrupt what’s already there?  How can we be open to the new without disrupting the old?  Where is that balance?

These questions tie in, I think, with that concept of spiritual health.  Part of being spiritually healthy is internal, your personal sense of who God is and what he is doing in your life.  That’s important but if you’re a spiritually healthy individual, you need to be able to translate that into being a spiritually healthy group (church).  A church community is only as spiritually healthy as the individuals that make it up. 

Part of being spiritually healthy is enfolding and embracing others.  This is both necessary and challenging because it requires the group (the church) and the individual (the members that make up that church) to work together in such a way that stretches them both which in turn helps everyone to find their ‘sensual spirituality’. 

This is really a dissertation topic, not a blog entry, so I haven’t done the topic justice here by any stretch.  I guess my challenge to you (and myself) is being the hands and feet of Jesus requires having our own sense of  who God is and being willing to share it – especially when it stretches us.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Michael,
I was once told by a pastor that his dad had said "I never have known to be without the presence of God in my life and my prayer is that one day, my children will be able to say the same." I'm thinking that you may believe as I do. Whether in times of joy or trial, I have always felt God with me. There were times I didn't like where He was taking me, but I still knew that He was there, right next to me. I hope, Michael, that this is what you mean and that you feel the same. I feel blessed to be able to say that I have never not known God's presence.
Love you. Mom