Saturday, October 8, 2005

Fragments of Postmodern Liturgy Part IV

Correlations + Relationships

Relationships are everything. We are born because of a relationship between our parents, we breathe because of a relationship between oxygen, nitrogen, argon and carbon dioxide,[i] we stay on the ground because of the relationship between our bodies and the magnetism of the earth, and we are saved because of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Relationship with God is hardly represented in scripture as the only meaningful relationship we are to have. In fact, 94 times in the New Testament we are given instructions as to how we are to deal with one another[ii], and there are consistent threads running between the reflection of God’s love in our hearts and the manner in which we interact.[iii]

The importance of relationships is even underscored for us on a scientific level, through the study of quantum physics and the theory of non-local connectedness. Living systems, for example, exist as organisms on a sub-microscopic level that “maintain a clear sense of individual identity within a larger network or relationships.[iv]” If a system gets in trouble, it can be “restored to health by connecting it to more of itself[v]”, in other words – even sub-microscopic organisms need good friends and the occasional paramecium baseball game. The principle of correlationships exists on molecular, scientific, and interpersonal levels and should not be written off or dismissed by the church as anything less than part of how we were made.

Too often we have de-prioritized relationships in favor of adherence to propositions or goals, but “truth is right relationships.[vi]” In the modern world, we have been so intent on proving the validity of our religion that we lost out on some of its mystery. Once we reduced the wonder and awe of God to scientific formulae, we lost something – we lost spiritual ardor and traded it for integers and fractions. But relationships with the divine are stunning, evolving processes that wrap us in tender affection and throw us into the blanket of supreme love. Church, then, is a love-in, a commune in the loosest sense where we can freely entertain the Holy Spirit and enjoy the pleasure of one another as we enjoy Jesus.

In our young adults’ service we run a free espresso bar to promote the kind of atmosphere where relationships happen naturally. We deliberately put the funniest, most quick-witted people we know behind the counter so that everyone who gets a free coffee gets the opportunity to share a good laugh and let their defenses down just a little. We also fill our meeting places with things like foosball, couches and magazines. We encourage our people to spend time in one another’s homes and develop friendships, because these are the relationships that help us keep perspective. These relationships define who we are, and our relationship with God enables us to find “the fullness of our identity.[vii]

In a world dominated by commerce, only Covenant can be offered as a response to consumerism. In a consumer-economy all you are worth is what you have to spend, but in a relational economy your worth is determined by the shared experiences of laughter, love, and correlationship. We must free ourselves from the notion that life is lived in the mind, and through our silly plans. Life is not ideas, or even morality, but covenant[viii] and if we are to assist in reorienting the world back to communion with its Maker, we must begin by focusing on the power of the logos, literally “that which enables us to be in relationship with another.[ix]” Revaluing relationships is a timeless necessity, and as it is now Time to stand for something, correlationships should top our list.

[i] see,+formula+oxygen+nitrogen&hl=en for the specific formula.

[ii] Source: search feature, New International Version
[iii] cf. John 13.35
[iv] Margaret Wheately, Leadership and the New Science p.20
[v] Ibid, p.145
[vi] Len Sweet, Out of the Question into the Mystery p.33
[vii] Ibid, p.60
[viii] cf. Walter Brueggman, Texts Under Negotiation p.54. See also Matthew 26.28, NIV “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
[ix] Len Sweet, Out of the Question p.68. See also Strong’s #3056

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