Personal and global understanding is growing in the knowledge of these things: Life is interwoven, reality is a web of interrelated influences, and that what we do to a part we do to the whole.
In response, some of the world’s mightiest political, commercial and even religious forces oppose recognition and demand denial of the forces of change on our climate, on our scientific understanding, on our legislative and judicial system. It took but an evening’s conversation with our partners from the Philippines to see both the interrelatedness and the denial in action. The destructive strategies used by international mining interests in their country that have permanently damaged their land, water and people, are the same mining companies and the same short-cut, unsustainable mining strategies that are a threatening shadow just miles north of us.
These are big problems; with others, I ask myself big questions. “How, as Christians, can we give prophetic voice to this new consciousness instead of opposing it or being passively unrelated to it?” 1 In response, I hear, “Start small; begin close to your heart.” The deep spiritual wisdom of Christianity begins in self-examination and a clear-eyed look at reality through questioning. These are among my favorites: What is true? What do I love? What do I want?
What is true? A widely-held, conventional view of Christianity is that Jesus is irrelevant to the very real human social problems and environmental pressures we now face. In that view the Gospel message is seen to be only about the soul, its guilt before God, and its redemption through Jesus’ Passion into the afterlife. All of it, sometimes referred to as atonement theology, is one layer of the Christian story that most often comes to mind when people see the Cross. It is a valuable layer of Jesus’ story, but not the only story we tell.
What do I love? I love the Christian story centered on Jesus whose teachings show that compassion, empathy and connection are central; that matter matters and the earth requires our surrender to its needs; that salvation comes only with one another, not in separation from one another, and that Jesus reveals that God’s self-giving, vulnerable love is at the heart of everything.
What do I want? I want new ways to symbolize the complex layers of the Gospel story and especially that God’s self-giving, vulnerable love is at the heart of everything.
Some months ago I purchased the necklace pictured above from Peace member, Gail Blum, artist and owner of Rock-on Jewelry. I learned the power of these objects to be a fresh telling of the story of living in the way of Jesus through the wearing of my necklace and the heart-felt conversations it provokes. The welcoming heart is brassy, bold, open, imbalanced, imperfect, daring and ready to show-up, because it is secure. It is anchored in and rises through the billion-year-old gray basalt from the shores of Lake Superior, a rock of ages, my Ebenezer—rock that helps, rock that stabilizes, that anchors, that is my point of safety and home, that will not be moved, unchanging. You will see it around my neck when I lead worship.
Right here, where we are, at Peace, we are telling the story of how God’s self-giving, vulnerable love is at the heart of everything. Here among our own Beloved community we can look for and we will find refreshed sacred symbols for our times, for ways to tell ancient stories of the patterns of Truth and Spirit to which we have promised to give a living voice.
~ Jackie Falk, Faith Formation Minister
1Brian D. McLaren, Everything Must Change (Nashville TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2007), pp. 80-82, 94.