Several years ago, I took a virtual course from Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota from two of their pastors – Paul Eddy and Kevin Callahan. They came up with one of the best definitions of church I’ve come across. I’m not quoting exactly, but it went something like this:
We who follow Jesus are:
- Specially chosen
- To join a Holy Spirit-led covenant community
- With an urgent message, mission, & calling;
- To give up “normal” life and comforts,
- To become trained to live in submission
- To the power & purposes of GOD
- At the risk of our own lives
- For the wellbeing of all of creation.
Every phrase is a sermon series.
We are chosen by God. God loves us. God drew us with bands of lovingkindness to Jesus. Our essential identity is Beloved of God.
We were chosen and drawn to community – genuine, authentic, connectedness with other humans, a tribe with whom to do life.
This community is multicultural, multigenerational, interracial, inclusive, welcoming, and nonjudgmental.
This community is led by the Holy Spirit.
This community is a covenant community. We are bonded together by commitment to love, serve, and care for one another.
This community has an urgent message: God is love. God created you in God’s own image. God adores you. God invites you into vitality, inner freedom, actualization, and wholeness. God will never hurt you.
This community has an urgent mission: Take God’s love to others. All others.
This community has an urgent calling: to shine with the love of Jesus.
We are called to give up “normal” life and comforts. “Normal” in our context is consumerist, materialist, militaristic, triumphalist, narcissistic, individualistic, and racist.
We are called to become trained to live in submission to the power and purposes of God – to be fully, unconditionally, yielded to God.
We are called to obey God even at the risk of our own lives.
And we are called to do so for the betterment of all of creation, in harmony with all people, and all the natural world.
Only the most skilled
Clamp on their ice-spikes and
Venture to the inaccessible heights of
The Himalayans, but even they are
Unaware that far beneath the ice and
Snow on which they climb lie
Granite fissures that slowly sip the
Pure snow being gently warmed by
Molten fires miles below.
Just a trickle of pristine water,
Clearer than the clearest crystal,
Finds it’s kind deep inside the
Towering peaks and forms a
Rivulet that bubbles to the
Surface thousands of feet
Below the crest to form a
Perfect untainted mountain spring.
Millions of years, glaciers, snows, rains, and winds
Carved the crevice that separates the
Singular spring into two.
One falls violently. The other with grace.
One becomes angry as it absorbs
Man’s pollutants from soil and air.
It fights and rages against the
Injustice, ripping trees and boulders,
Stirring sands, campsites, and trash
Until the dam.
But it is not placid, nor will it surrender
To the dullness of the choking reservoir.
The bitterness stirs deep within until,
Aided by torrential rains sent by
Furious gods, it rips and explodes the
Concrete wall and ferociously takes
Revenge on downstream towns
Inhabited by the species that
Polluted its ancestors.
It is at war.
High above, its sister took a different path.
Unobtrusive, it winds its unsullied water
Along gentle paths dotted with
Kindly sprays of quiet falls
Through alpine flowers where
Fawns and lambs quench their
Thirst, bulbul and monal dance,
Home to mahseer, baby rabbits,
Red panda, tahr, snow leopard and
Snow partridge. Warmed by thermal
Features below and summer sun above,
It softly cascades into a transparent
Pool where naked lovers play.