Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Religion is to be Connected: Part 6

We are a sacramental people.  We make offerings to God of the stuff in our lives - bread and wine, water, oil, and all sorts and conditions of people.  Then we do this audacious thing of claiming that God has changed those very things we have just presented into something else.

In Holy Eucharist bread and wine become Christ's body and blood; we baptize and a human believer becomes a member of Christ's body, the church; a man and women make their vows to each other and we pronounce them husband and wife.  If nothing else the stuff we present is us. 

The beauty and significance of these and the other sacraments engages us so that we have even expanded the ways in which we make offerings of ourselves and pronounce those vowing as married regardless of their biology.  

Most of what we do when behaving sacramentally relies on an understanding of God and God's grace.  I've already called it audacious but it is also hopeful, honest, risky and intentional.  

We are crazy but faithful when we count on God to make a difference.  But the basic promise "to be with us" that God makes and keeps in the person of Jesus of Nazareth can't be real AND inert at the same time.

So when we are worshipping in baptism, eucharist, confirmation, marriage, ordination, extreme unction and reconciliation we are trusting God and as far as the world can tell foolishly thrusting ourselves into the promise of God's life changing presence.

For many that is enough.  Many of us are glad to be deemed worthy, to receive the elements, to be married, ordained and in the end made right with God.  Even I have presented this series with a title that is also about being connected.

It is worth it for us to consider that the very same condition that makes it so that God's presence changes things -- that Jesus of Nazareth can't be real AND inert at the same time -- should be the automatic next step in our sacramental lives as well.  That is to say that religion is connecting not just being connected.  

Early arguments about the bread and wine once blessed and broken that used a definition like transubstantiation very often left those asking good questions about "what difference it makes" thinking that Holy Communion did more to the bread and wine than it did to those taking, blessing, breaking, and sharing.  

If religion is just as much connecting then our sacramental living is just as much or more doing than being: more offering, blessing, breaking and sharing continuously than mere status changes to be celebrated, certified, and protected.  

So let me revise my title: "Religion is to be Connecting" and let's see what difference it makes. 

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