Friday, October 27, 2006

Images of Communion - "Church" and "Christ"

I offer these two images, one of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Middlebury, Vermont, my home church and the other image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd that was the image in the chapel in that church where I first had Sunday School. Other than a gratuitous march down memory lane, these images for me (personally) are both helpful and limiting in my view of what church is, what "communion" is. My working "model" of Christ and of Church go to these two images.

At this church is where a decent variety and diversity of God's people gathered, it is where we did participate in communion with one another and with God. It is where I learned a great deal of the faith, and a great deal about myself. It is where I came to love the liturgy, music, and practices of the faith, and where I first really encountered the living God. St. Stephens is also where I felt the tension that the church was sometimes slow to respond to needs in the community, and where I thought deeper communion could be had - it is where I was able to question my faith, and yet keep coming to the altar rail to participate.

I don't offer these images necessarily as universally helpful models of Church or of Christ or of Communion, but I believe that we all carry with us some images that are our own "working images," and unless we name (and perhaps critique) them, we cannot transform and allow the Spirit to breathe new life into them ...

I wonder whether we, in the Church, need to name the working images and metaphors that both help and constrain us as we walk and work and worship together?

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