The mission of Squamish United Church is "To be an inclusive community serving God's world." As a church together we seek to love God and neighbour with all our heart, soul and mind. We hope this blog enriches you on your journey of life.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Moving from Fear

Observation # 5: The pervasive fear in the church is paralyzing. It inhibits genuine conversation and keeps us fixated on finding solutions, rather than launching into bold new adventures of faith. There is no way to move forward until we come to grips with the reality of fear. Dealing with fear requires deep personal and corporate spiritual practice. Only transformed people will have the ability to be a transformed church.

Cynthia's response: This is so, so true. If “perfect love casts out fear,” the opposite is sadly but equally true: “perfect fear casts out love.” And it shuts down just about everything else as well. Fear is always a tip-off that one is living at the egoic level of consciousness (or in the corporate mode, the “we-goic” level): that anxiety-prone hardwiring of the immature human mind that sees everything from its own self-interest and perceives through separation and scarcity. The only “cure” for fear is spiritual practice, which gradually heals this artificial split in the field of consciousness and restores the direct perception of abundance and connection. All other approaches to fear simply mask the symptoms, generally through reliance on illusory power and control to “fix” the external situation deemed to be broken.

Ironically, this healing of fear is at the very heart of the Jesus message, over which the church claims custodial rights but about which it knows so very little. “Do not be afraid, little flock: it is my Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom,” Jesus assures his followers in those immortal words of Luke 12: 32. And throughout his entire ministry, he teaches, models, and ultimately offers himself up in the kenotic (or “letting go”) practice which not only surmounts fear but transforms it.

Imagine what might happen if a whole group of Christian were to simply drop their terrified insistence that the church as we know it must survive and were instead to give themselves to that “deep personal and corporate spiritual practice” that makes it possible to fall through fear into perfect love. What might happen next? Whatever form it might take, it would certainly be REAL: a powerful new unleashing of the Jesus energy, no longer as that “mighty fortress” and “bulwark never ceasing” of times gone by, but as the river itself, ever flowing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stay Open

Observation # 4: Faced with decline, the institution of the church is permeated by fear. Some in the church are fearful for the preservation of their cherished institutions and buildings. Others fear that their familiar theological formulations are being threatened. Fear is never a good starting place for opening to the movement of God’s Spirit.

Cynthia's response: You’ve hit the nail on the head with that one! In fact, modern neuroscience now confirms what the mystics and contemplatives have insisted since time immemorial: that fear completely shuts down our capacity for Spirit-led responsiveness and even wreaks havoc on our basic common sense. The data now emerging from The HeartMath Institute and other places depicts graphically how any fear response immediately lights up the neural pathways straight to the amygdala, the most ancient and primitive part of the human brain (commonly known as “the reptilian brain” because guess whom we share it with?), where it stimulates a series of very rigid and repetitive behaviors in response to the “fight or flight” signal. Not only are we out of touch with Spirit; we aren’t even using the more evolutionarily advanced parts of our human brain!

Learning to stay open, stay engaged, stay receptive in the face of sweeping change (rather than going to fear-responses) is a classic fruit of spiritual practice. It’s ironic that in the plethora of retrenchment strategies now engulfing the church, that this profound resource at the heart of the church’s own mystical treasure chest is so little acknowledged or utilized.