Faithful Presence in the Parish
by Mark Votava
What if we saw the church not as a building or a gathering we go to, but as a network of relationships in the particular place that we live? What if we saw the parish as the neighborhood we live in, the context where we practice being the body of Christ together in everyday life? What if we became faithfully present to the parish we live in? Then our spirituality would be about living in the neighborhood with people and learning to love.
- Living in proximity
Our spirituality would be about living in proximity in the parish. There would be no more reliance on driving our cars to church and going home to leave the local community behind. The local community would become home, worship and work space in everyday life. We would become the body of Christ to the world through the local place we live.
- Becoming faithfully present
It wouldn’t matter so much where you attended a gathering, as to living in the neighborhood where the gathering is, becoming faithfully present and learning to find some collaboration with other people who have redemptive hopes for that place. This would change everything because it would take the focus off of the highly reliant theology of the mind and embed our theology into a more balanced practice-based embodiment of everyday life together in the parish. This paradigm shift would help us to live incarnate instead of excarnate lives where love is all that matters in the place we live.
- Becoming the most rooted people in our community
Michael Frost states in his new book Incarnate: The Body of Christ in an Age of Disengagement, “I believe Christians should be the most rooted people in their community; their loyalty and devotion to a particular geographic area and everyone who lives there should be legendary…”
- Living out a way of life together
This would help us to not to be so individualistic, independent and competitive. Things would not be about growing a gathering, but about caring for a local community, living out a way of life together, loving the world in the context where we live. Interdependence, love, compassion, solidarity, humility, grace, simplicity, collaboration and relational living are what we are all called to practice together in everyday life.
- The medium of discipleship – a practice of love
A Christianity without a practice of love is meaningless and destructive. A Christianity where we are not rooted and committed to the parish together is an illusion because there will be no place to practice being the body of Christ together in everyday life. There will be no mission, community or formation together. The parish is the medium of discipleship that shapes us to become people of love in the world together as the body of Christ in everyday life.
- The unifying paradigm of parish
As Kathy Escobar so wonderfully says in her book Down We Go, “…humans have a natural propensity toward homogeneity and structures that keep us safely contained with other people most like us… We tend to stick with other people who look like us, think like us, act like us and believe like us. It makes life much easier…” The parish blows all of this apart.
How can we find some unity together through becoming faithfully present to the parish?
This post is a part of the April 2014 synchroblog where Kathy Escobar has asked fellow bloggers to contribute to the conversation of what will bring healing and unity to the divisions in the body of Christ.
- The Virtual Abbess – Abi and April’s Synchroblog – Bridging the Divides
- Caris Adel – Emotional Pacifism: Laying Down My Weapons
- Ty Grigg – Speak Truth
- Jon Huckins – Gay Marriage, World Vision, and a Unified Church?
- Mark Votava – Faithful Presence in the Parish
- Mary at Lifeinthedport – let us meet in the borderlands
- Michael Donahoe – Healing Divisions in the Body of Christ
- Jeremy Myers – Unity vs. Uniformity in the Church
- Juliet at Still Learning – A Catholics Love Letter to Evangelical Women
- Dago at Scripture Insights – Jesus the Divider
- Glenn Hager – The Lowest Common Denominator
- Sarah Quezada – Standing on Church Bridges
- Doug Webster – Truth Is Not a Process, Belief Is
- Michelle Van Loon – Bridging the Divide
- Happy at Simple Felicity – are we there yet?
- Travis Klassen – The Church: Coming, Going, or Being
- Bec Cranford – Biblical Interpretation and Inerrancy: Moving beyond myopia to a grander vision of unity
- Teresa Pasquale – Bridging the Divide: Translating Between Dialects, Culture Contexts, and Heart Stirring
- Miguel Labrador – I might be willing to reconsider church hierarchies, if…
- Paul Meier – Healing the Divides Begins Within
- Liz Dyer – You Can’t Get There From Here
- K.W. Leslie – Humility
- Kathy Escobar – 10 ways we can build bridges instead of bomb them
- Loveday Anyim – The “non-Gospelized Rituals” of Pentacostalism
- Caedmon Michael – Bridging the Divides
- Carly Gelsinger – “Church Shopping” at the Wrong “Mall”: A Story of Easter Sundays
- Mallory Pickering – A Splintered People
- Pastor Edwin Fedex – Tearing Down Fences and Building Sidewalks
- Jen Baros – Bridging the Divides: How to Heal
- Burning Religion – The Impossible Space Between Us
- Bronwyn Lea – When My Children Squabble
- Christine Sine – Unified by Love Not Doctrine