March 24, 2019
We held hands out in the Cedar Chapel opening our collective hearts to God. We looked around at the beauty of the forest to see God’s wisdom hidden there. We drew pictures and shared our experiences of awe of God’s creation with each other in small groups. We heard the story of the disciples’ amazement that they had been walking with Jesus on the Emmaus road. And at the climactic moment in the story, the Eagles squawked their approval from the tree tops above us. We broke delicious bread and drank grape juice while sitting on campfire split logs, and sang, “we are companions on the journey”. Many of us are new to the congregation and now we felt more like family.
We gathered this past weekend for the congregation’s yearly retreat at Samish Island, Community of Christ campgrounds. Gathering seems to be in the DNA of our denomination. Our theme was “Journey Together”, reflecting a theme of the congregation’s history. In the 1970’s , the Community of Christ (then known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of latter Day Saints) was reinterpreting its concept of Zion. For many years, the church promoted the idea of relocating to the “Center Place” of Independence Missouri to develop a righteous people of “one heart and mind” and actualize the new Jerusalem in the America’s. Gradually, as the church opened to the broader Christian community in the 60’s and 70’s many publications defined Zion as a “spiritual condition” and a “process” (Yarrington, 1971). The church changed its definition of Zion “from a specific geographical place to more of a state of mind and the concept of ‘the leaven’ for community building.” (Couey, 1973, p.33 ) Zion as a symbol was evolving. And that evolution led us to create a gathering center at Crystal Springs so that we might strengthen each other and be leaven in the community around us.
At Crystal Springs congregation we are still discovering what it means to be a community of disciples, seekers, and sojourners, a place where all are welcomed, without exception– a geographical place as well as a place woven intentionally through relationships, graced by God’s Spirit. Disciples of Jesus Christ, called to be the leaven, still creating together our focus, still a process. We are drawn to weave our stories into a garment that strengthens each one and stretches beyond. This weekend we responded as our three young boys, Andrew, David and Jonathan, introduced themselves to each adult on their labyrinth walk. We laughed as Barry exhibited his amazing double-jointed body. We giggled at Steve’s dashboard Jesus who travels everywhere with him, seeing beneath the humor to profound joy. We laughed at Karolyn’s rendition of “Sweet Violets”, a campfire fun song from generations ago. We shared the heartaches of our brothers and sisters as well as their success stories in many pairs and small groups visiting quietly. We told of God’s Spirit in our lives and the world around us. We opened to personal insights and blessings of healing in deep, relaxing meditations under the guidance of Christian. And we sent each other out, aspiring to be the leaven like the baking powder, baking soda, and buttermilk in the delicious biscuits from the baking class on Saturday. Now we look forward to what bubbles up in days to come.
Couey, Duane, “Zionic Dimensions,” Readings on Concepts of Zion, ed. Paul Wellington. Independence, MO: Herald Publishing House, 1973
Yarrinton, Roger, “What is Zion?” (Tract) Herald House, 1971.