“Love is something if you give it away”, we sing. “It’s like a magic penny. Lend it, spend it and you’ll have so many they will roll all over the floor.”
The life and work of the Church is likened to that magic-penny-imagery. Revitalizing any of our Christian communities is possible only when we “give love away”.
For the next few weeks I shall try to share my understanding of a presentation made by Joan Chittister. She is a Benedictine abbess, writer and thinker who offers prophetic insights about the church and spirituality. I treasure her wisdom.
She addressed the world-wide congress of Benedictine followers last fall. Her theme Let the Call be Heard! I’ll try to translate her thoughts in terms of the people and church-folk I know in this place and these times.
What we have been entrusted with are “gifts given to us by the spirit in order to maintain the spirit of Jesus in the church today”. But the understandings we receive cannot be hoarded for ourselves (either as individuals or in community). “They exist only when they are shared and given away.” Our responsibility as faith-filled communities is to look for fresh and vibrant ways to live out our undertakings.
Next week I’ll look at how Chittister describes the partnership that must exist for the church to remain vital. She names three partners:
- The theologians and designated leaders of our faith-communities;
- Those people from the everyday world who bring with them the realities of that world;
- The spirit of Jesus, which fuels us …
For comparison between what has been and what might become in the church, see 15th c. de Vinci’s painting of the last supper. It depicts an “all-male, apostolic, privatized version of Jesus and his disciples”.
On the other hand, the 20th c. Polish artist Leszek Piasecki’s painting of the Passover meal shows “men, women and children all sharing the same meal, all called to the same cup. And all are participants in the theological development of the early Christian Community.”
How do you celebrate Seder?