An Analogy for the Church

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I wanted to share a simple analogy I have found to be very compelling.

I’m fascinated and slightly fearful of our bodies, as you can read in my former post, Good One God. I’m no doctor nor have any formal education in the health industry, so my assessment might be partially incorrect. Yet, from what I have been told, this is pretty phenomenal.

As you might have learned from a biology lesson in elementary school, our blood cells flow from all parts of our body into the heart where it is pumped into the lungs. Blood needs oxygen to survive, so in the lungs the depleted blood cells are brought back to life and become fully oxygenated.

This re-oxygenated blood is brought back through the heart where it is then pushed with such force that it travels to the extremities of our bodies. This life-filled blood travels to our toes, fingers, legs, muscles, and organs.

This re-oxygenated blood brings oxygen, literal health and life, to parts of our body that desperately needs oxygen, health, and life.

As such blood reaches the margins of our bodies, it very quickly though, becomes de-oxygenated. It gives away its life and health to other parts of the body. So, it must return back to the heart and lungs in order to get oxygen and life.

This oxygenating life-giving rhythm occurs every thirty seconds in our bodies.

I think this is an apt metaphor for our participation and spiritual life within a faith community or church.

Every week, we participate in a rhythm where we gather together, we recite ancient prayers, we sing songs of our hearts, we hear the Gospel proclaimed, we let the truth of ancient Scriptures wash over our lives, we wait in silence for the Divine’s voice, and we partake of the Eucharist or Communion.

Every week, we gather together, in ancient looking cathedrals, converted warehouses, or long-standing sanctuaries, …. to be re-oxygenated. We are drawn back into the center where we can encounter the Divine, our Life, and are then sent out into our own circles to declare this Presence in the world.

Then, we are pumped out, pushed out, sent out to bring God’s Presence and Love to all who need it. We are scattered from our sacred sanctuaries to the oft-forgotten margins where people are longing for oxygen, for life, for healing, for freedom, for good news, and for love.

We are not the Oxygen, of course. We are the vessels for the Oxygen.

We are not the Life. We are conduits for the Life.

I need this rhythm. I crave this rhythm, actually.

I don’t know about you, but after a typical week, I can honestly say I need to be re-oxygenated. I become depleted quite quickly. I need to return to the heart, to the Center, to be reminded of truths that can revive my soul.

I crave this rhythm because something mysterious happens. Every time I return the center, to the heart, something happens within me. My soul is refreshed, restored, transformed, even when I don’t feel it on a Sunday. I can’t always explain how it happens, but I can say it does happen.

I recognize that some of us haven’t experienced such a re-oxygenating community, though.

Perhaps instead of being a place that brings life, we have been a part of communities that suck oxygen and life right out of us. Maybe it was life-giving for a season and then it seemed as if the rug was pulled out from under you. Now, you’ve been left out, burnt out, depleted, abandoned, forgotten, and left on the margins. I’ve been there, too.

But, be encouraged. The extremities, such as our feet and hands, don’t need to go to the heart to find true oxygen and life. Oxygen is brought to them. Life finds them.

The same is true for you. You will be found. Life and Oxygen will find you. God isn’t only found in a church sanctuary but is as close to you as your very breath.

This is also why I love the song “You Will be Found” from the musical, Dear Evan Hansen. Tears. Every time I hear it.

When you discover God has found you, that moment will be the most oxygen-rich breathe you’ll ever take for Life has found you and filled you.

Nathan Albert