Adapted from Exploring Community of Christ Basic Beliefs: A Commentary
(Adapted from Exploring Community of Christ Basic Beliefs: A Commentary edited by Anthony J. Chvala-Smith, p. 63. A Kindle version is available at www.HeraldHouse.org.)
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. -Matthew 5:14-16
Community of Christ values sacred places. In our past journey as a people, and in our personal stories, we associate particular experiences of God’s holiness with special locations. Our history celebrates sacred sites, like the Palmyra Grove, the Kirtland Temple, our numerous campgrounds, the Auditorium, and the Temple in Independence. These are for us what Celtic spirituality calls “thin places” where the distance between creator and creature disappears and we find ourselves vulnerable to grace in remarkable ways. These places connect us to our spiritual heritage, which calls deeper intentionality from us when we visit them. Thus, sacred places become uniquely transparent to a renewed vision of God’s purposes for the world. For many members and friends of the church our sacred sites have become centers of spiritual pilgrimage and a refuge away from the stresses of daily life. Many visit our sacred places in hope of drawing closer to God.
However, if our buildings and special sites are to represent our loving care for creation in the current ecological crisis, we must ask ourselves some challenging questions. Do they utilize energy responsibly? Do they protect or provide natural habitat for other creatures than us? Do they promote holistic concepts of peace? Do we care for these places in ways that do not further harm the environment?
Our sacred sites prompt us to ask further what would happen if we began to perceive the whole creation as a sacred place? From our unique experiences at a specific campground, for example, how might we work to transform our neighborhood into a “thin place”? How can we take what we experience at Kirtland, for example, and embody it in a transformative way in the places where we live, play, and work?
The sacred interconnection of life means that when we do things for the Earth, we do them for ourselves. Contemporary science readily sees this truth. When we improve the health of air and water, we improve our own health. To act for the well-being of a threatened species has far- ranging implications for human thriving. The poor of the earth are no longer only the human poor, for the creation itself has become impoverished. We confess that our future is linked to the welfare of all the poor: “in their welfare resides your welfare” (Doctrine and Covenants 163.4a). We cannot separate care for Earth (ecological justice) from care for people (social justice). We are made of the same stuff as the rest of creation. Whatever affects the parts, affects the whole.
Disciples have a choice to make. We can imitate God’s generosity with love for all living things. Or we can continue to walk the path toward ecological devastation, in which the few take what they want for personal benefit at the expense of the many. We are capable of thriving as a global community while at the same time cultivating, cherishing, protecting, and preserving the living systems all around us.
“Practice Resurrection” (Wendell Berry).
During this Easter season, we invite you daily into a breath prayer focused on resurrection. With each exhale, respond in a word or phrase to the question, “What is dying?” (fear, anger, assumptions, etc.) With each inhale, notice a response in a word or phrase to the question “What is rising?” (love, courage, trust, etc.) You may choose to use the same word or phrase throughout this season, or let each day bring its own unique response to this sacred pattern of dying and rising that is central to our faith.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.