Second, for my Church Development Institute program, I am reading How Your Church Family Works: Congregations as Emotional Systems, by Peter Steinke. He writes:
"Anxiety diminishes clarity and objectivity. It interferes with our capacity to think creatively. We cannot stand outside of the vague dread and observe it. We do not know what we are afraid of, what terrifies us. In contrast to fear, anxiety is undifferentiated. It has no definite focus."To me, this sounds very much like what appears to be happening in many churches today. Even when sexuality is the focus, we are repeatedly told that it isn't "the issue." Perhaps the issue, rather than the authority of scripture, is simply anxiety that periodically finds a place within us or gravitates to hot-button issues and triggers our instinct to protect against what is different or not understood. I have often seen otherwise perfectly rational discussions degenerate when the topic of sexuality, money, or even evangelism arises--an almost instinctual reaction against dealing with the reality of what is going on in the world and the church in any way but defensively.
I join that thought with my continued consideration of the Gospel passage for this coming Sunday (tomorrow!) where Jesus says to the leper "your faith has made you well." I wonder, what made the lepers who did not return to thank Jesus well? Was it their faith also, or simply the unrecognized (or at least unacknowledged) power of God?
As I was walking back home from the park this afternoon, a perfect Fall day in the northwest, the famous words of St. Julian of Norwich came to mind:
"All shall be wellIt occurs to me that we do not need to have a disfiguring, incurable, or terminal illness to need healing and certainly do not need such a thing for us to need faith that "all manner of things shall be well." That sense of peace in the midst of anxiety is perhaps the greatest healing possible--the comfort of placing our lives (once again!) in God's hands, trusting that God is in control and that we need not pretend to be in control.
and all shall be well
and all manner of things shall be well."