From Rev Ross Kingham
In these days of uncertainty, we need to hear some encouraging news. Last Sunday, the Psalm reading was Ps 133.
1 How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
In Old Testament days, oil was a symbol of joy and festivity (Psalm 45:7),
The community journeying to Jerusalem is compared to the sacred oil with which
the High-priest was anointed (
a sacred oil holy
SYMBOL OF COMMUNITY
Aaron’s head (
ff.). This sacred oil was
In Exodus, 30:23, God directed Moses to make a
myrrh, sweet cinnamon, cassia, and
. “And you shall make of these
blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a
In the gospels we read of the Mount of Olives which was named for its numerous
olive groves and the olive oil presses located at its base. Jesus spent his last evening
there "Gethsemane" = Heb.
(lit. "press of oil" ). In a way, it was the
setting for Jesus’ final anointing in the dark last night of freedom before his arrest.
We, in our church life, have many wounds and imperfection. Some scars run very
deep. Nevertheless, in the community of the Christ is sheer beauty!
Our faith communities are founded on our shared trust in Jesus, and we are called to
live the values of Jesus. This is vastly more, deeply more, than being related through
a common organization.
We gather- in the flesh or in spirit – with our many differences, drawn together by something far stronger than by friendship or shared life stories or musical tastes: we are drawn together by grace, by the Holy Spirit.
The word community has many connotations, some positive, some negative. Community can make us think of a safe togetherness, shared meals, common goals, and joyful celebrations. It also can call forth images of sectarian exclusivity, with an in-group language. Community always carries with it the possibility of being fractured: it is invariably fragile.
The Christian community is rarely a place where all the members agree with everyone else’s way of thinking, their preferences in worship or study or mission. Unity is not conformity: rather, it is a delicate blending of like and unlike.
Sometimes we are tempted to try to make the church community into the mould that we would prefer.
Sometimes, we are tempted to leave, and seek out another church community to try to evade the challenge of sharing with others of different views.
However, community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another. Community is the fruit of our capacity to make the interests of others more important than our own (see Philippians 2:4). The question, therefore, is not "How can we make community?" but "How can we develop and nurture giving hearts?"
The heart of this experience of community is inclusion.
Inclusion means respecting each other’s needs and boundaries, and not assuming
that we are called to try to improve the other.
Inclusion means curiosity, not seeking only the replication or defense of our own experience.
Inclusion means more than being nice to people, including those unlike ourself, but sharing the walk.
Inclusion, in other words, is difficult to attain. It is grounded in humility.
How can we, with all our imperfections and wounds,
our fears, our bitterness, our sorrows,
be a truly Christian community?
Remember this symbol – oil, for the sacrament of healing.
And so we are invited today to bask in love vast and unclouded, the love that penetrates our defences and our pretences,
the love that sustains the lives of the saints as it has done throughout all history, the love that embraces our tender, vulnerable self to eternity.
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Ross Kingham Co-Chair