The snow keeps falling here in the Twin Cities. We've had four inches or so overnight and it will continue throughout the day. I would imagine there are six or seven inches on the ground at the moment. It is beautiful and it is quiet. The downtown traffic this morning was so interesting. Men and women in business suits and scarves hopped over mountains of snow and waded through streets of slush, walking through traffic and enduring angry horn blasts. A winter wonderland!
"life, like a wounded bird, wants to soar off and cannot"
In the Church there is a holistic sense of community. And there must be, for indeed our God, being Trinity, is community. The worship of the Orthodox Church is very holistic in terms of the human body (it engages the eyes, the ears, the nose, the movements of the limbs), and likewise the experience of salvation and relationship within the Church is holistic, engaging the entire Body of Christ.
Let us consider Christ’s words to his apostles from the gospel of John. “Peace I leave with you.” Perhaps Christ was not talking to one individual disciple, but a community of individuals, a Church. Indeed the word “You” in Greek does not specify plurality or singularity.
I am never fully at peace. I am never fully joyful, never fully living with “abundant life”. I am never fully correct, I am never fully forgiving and I certainly do not contain within my mind the fullness of the truth. I am not the fullness and indeed, I cannot be. This fullness is the task of the Church, the entire Body.
Saint Paul speaks, saying, “We have the mind of Christ.” This “we” is the Church in Her fullness, Her catholicity, Her sobernost (as the Russians call it). For as the apostle again says, the Church is “the fullness of Him who fills all things.”
Most of my life there has been one single approach to the message of the gospel, and indeed this approach is not exactly incorrect. It goes something like this: “Christ came to save you…and there is a church as well”
But though that message is true, it perhaps does not encompass or clearly articulate the overall experience of God’s intentions. A better message may be this: “Christ has come to redeem and to commune with His Bride-the Church. And-praise God-you are personally a part of this experience.”
This salvation is intensely personal; even more so than the first approach, because again, being a person requires community. Who would I be as a person without the Persons of God? I would simply cease to be at all. And who would I be as a person if I had lived these 21 years without the community of persons around me? I would be mindless, a savage, a larger-than-normal baby. As goes the common phrase: No one is saved alone.