by Danae Ashley
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
–1 Corinthians 3:16
There are many days, weeks, months, and seasons dedicated to bringing awareness to various causes, often overlapping, and each certainly worthy of our attention. But awareness can lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed. How do we turn awareness into ongoing support when there is so much need? How do we respond as Christians?
Our Episcopal baptismal covenant asks us: Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? (BCP 305) and we answer, “I will, with God’s help.” If we are aware of Christ in the other, it heightens our awareness of God’s Spirit dwelling within ourselves. Does this change how you feel about yourself? About the stranger in front of you?
The Episcopal Church has what is called ‘An Outline of the Faith’ and it explores what we believe in question-and-answer format. One of the questions is: What is the ministry of the laity? The answer: The ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship and governance of the Church (BCP 855). These are the gifts that we bring to the stranger in our midst. We bear witness to Christ by using the gifts given each of us.
Thankfully, we do not all have the same gifts and, our Christian mission aside, we do not all have the same vocational calls. Not everyone is called to be on the front line of advocacy; not everyone is called to sit and listen deeply to traumatic events in others’ lives; not everyone is called to rouse the spirit with music and song; not everyone is called to gather groups together. The list goes on and on. We may be drawn into National Women’s History Month this March and American Red Cross Month next March. No one person can do all things, especially at one time, but together we can transform and be transformed by God dwelling within us, beckoning us into wholeness—individually and as a society.
Our inward and spiritual grace that unites with Christ in our Baptism reminds us again and again that God dwells in the temple of our bodies. If God dwells in us, then God dwells in others. Who is in front of us right now? How can we acknowledge God in them? Perhaps if each of us actually truly saw, listened to, and allied with the people around us, we would not have to have awareness events. We would already be aware and reaching out, God’s Spirit connecting and saving us all.
The Rev. Danae M. Ashley, MDiv, MA, LMFT is an Episcopal priest and marriage and family therapist who has ministered with parishes in North Carolina, New York, Minnesota, and is serving part-time as the Associate Rector at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Seattle and a therapist at Soul Spa Seattle, LLC. She has written for a number of publications, produced a play, and has been featured on several podcasts regarding fertility struggle and faith. Danae’s favorite past times include reading, traveling with her husband, dancing with wild abandon to Celtic music, and serious karaoke.