In my work as a facilitator of adult learning, I have discovered that people these days really long for authentic community. This is one of the reasons that EfM continues to be so popular. Through the sharing of spiritual autobiographies, reflections and worship, people draw close and are supported, especially in their journeys toward understanding their ministry.
This is as true in my OSHER classes (adults over 50 teaching and taking courses offered through the local university) as in EfM. In my classes on dream interpretation, the examined life, and writing spiritual autobiographies, people of many faith traditions, or none, find joy in learning about and from one another and in supporting each other’s spiritual unfolding.
Today is the celebration of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple. In many churches this feast day is also known as the “Meeting of the Lord.” We Christians all have one thing in common; we have met Christ in one way or another, and the encounter has moved us to make some transformation in our lives. Whether that is as simple as beginning to go to church on a regular basis or as complex as choosing and sticking with a Rule of Life, it invites us into a spiritual community.
In such a community we have the opportunity to unfold a relationship with Christ out of our initial meeting with him. After all, the first tender encounter can wither without the proper support and nourishment. Other people help us take our spiritual lives seriously. They help us take our promises seriously. They help teach us, expanding the boxes in which we keep God into bigger and better containers. They also expand our sense of who we belong to and who needs to be important to us. Hopefully it gets closer and closer to an approximation of “everybody.”
Christ is the “light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people, Israel,” says Simeon in his famous hymn. Having waited all his life to see Jesus, he is now finally able to withdraw. How will Christ’s light continue to be revealed in his life, in Anna’s, and in those they meet along the way?
As you once again, through ritual, meet Christ in his temple today, ponder your spiritual community. Where is it a conduit to God’s remarkable love for us? How does it fall short? What might you do to help transform it?
Christ’s light is nothing other than the mysterious and astounding love of God. I can’t think of anything more important than being the community that is lampstand to that light.