The CMC Annual Report landed in your email inbox last Friday, April 17 – and I know you’ve all read it multiple times. I read through it this morning, noting the happy coincidence of it being Earth Day. Although congregations are organizations, some folks suggest it’s more helpful to think of them as organisms – less a machine and more a living being. Reading through the annual report is something of a brief tour through the ecosphere that is Columbus Mennonite Church. We are a growing, learning, stretching, sharing, collaborating, strategizing, praying, serving creature, and much more than a collection of individuals.
Today I was at a lunch gathering with other Columbus pastors at which the presenter spoke of the general failure of community throughout society and the great gift religious congregations offer in creating and sustaining community which overcomes our tendencies toward individualism.
The thought that we are separate, independent individuals is one of the great myths that Earth Day seeks to overcome. It’s a lot easier to destroy something if one believes it to be a spirit-less object completely separate from oneself – a resource to be consumed or sold to the highest bidder. An alternative spirituality is to love and appreciate and cherish the non-human Other for its own sake, and to find in it a partial reflection of one’s own being, a common origin from the nuclear core of stars and the boundless imagination of the Creator.
I like to think of congregations as living organisms that are conscious of their interdependence, celebrating the awe and wonder of participating in a Spirited universe. The name we give this reality is Christ, through whom, as The New Testament letter of Colossians says, “all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible….and in whom all things hold together” (Col. 1:16,17).