In our Lenten study on Wednesday nights, we have examined the ideas of theologian Marcus Borg. His book, The Heart of Christianity, explores the nuances of Christianity for modern people by offering us ways to think about our faith. His work provides a modern twist on age-old teachings and interpretations about topics such as scripture, beliefs, modern life v. ancient stories, and recapturing the beauty of God’s work as post-Enlightenment, scientifically-minded, and progressively open followers of Jesus.
In our last study before Holy Week, we discussed one of my favorite Celtic Christian metaphors: “Thin Places.” Borg, in his chapter on opening our hearts to God, describes two planes of existence: the visible world of our ordinary experience and the sacred – God, Spirit, “the More.” Thin places are where these two layers of reality meet, or intersect. The boundary between these realities becomes soft, porous, permeable in a thin space. The veil lifts and we behold God in ways we never have before. We experience the One in whom “we live and move and have our being.”
Thin Places are both geographical (think about the holiest sites of our faith where people go to meet God: Iona, Jerusalem, Rome, Canterbury, etc.) and sacramental (any place where our hearts are opened, perhaps through a mediator of the sacred – nature, music, poetry, literature, dance, Eucharist, etc.). Even times of suffering or serious illness or grief can become thin places. People, too, can mediate the Spirit in such a way as to “become” a thin place in our lives – have you ever known someone who exuded the Spirit in such a way that you experienced the presence of God?
What are some of the “thin places” you have experienced in your Christian journey?
As we celebrate the life of St. Patrick of Ireland today, may we remember the beauty of those Celtic Christians from the same isles who reminded us of how thin places can become between us and the Wholly Other, the Spirit of God, the “More.”
Now more than ever, we are a busy people who think stopping to recognize these moments and places is a “waste of time.” Time, measured in successes and profits, is seen as a commodity, and any time not producing is seen as waste. But these moments to stop and wait and listen for God are quite the opposite of waste for the Christian whose life is all about following the Way of Jesus. For in these holy moments and thin spaces, we find our purpose and identity in Christ. Our lives and spirits are changed.
We are entering into Christianity’s holiest week, and our Lenten reflection becomes a journey to the cross. Join us as we make space for God’s Spirit in our lives.
We will have our chapel open Monday-Friday during Holy Week with Stations of the Cross set up for visitors to stop and experience the Passion of Christ. We will also have our labyrinth set up on Good Friday from noon until 6:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall, where you can spend time walking a circuitous path inward to the center and back out to the world. The movement itself provides a walking prayer time and takes about 45 minutes to an hour. Devotional material and instructions will be available for anyone wishing to walk the path. Then join us for a service of remembrance on Maundy Thursday at 7:30 p.m., our last corporate worship together before the dawn of Easter Sunday.
Prayer on the breastplate of St. Patrick ~ may we every day seek to experience Christ, the Lord of all, in all we do.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.