Life to the Full
1-5 Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers." 6-9 Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
What if the point of life was not to be the best human, but to be fully human?
What if the thief in this story is every message that tells us we have to be more impressive and more powerful, or less broken and less complex?
What if the message of Jesus is that we don’t have to be anything other than we are right now?
St. Irenaeus (an old dude who lived a little after Jesus) says that “the glory of God is the human fully alive.” I like this idea. I like thinking that every part of my humanity is accepted in the Kingdom of God. I like thinking that my joy and sorrow and fear and confusion and excitement and anger and pain and absurdity and have-it-all-togetherness are all ways I get to express the image of God inside me.
This feels like abundance to me. And at Church at the Park, we hope every space we provide offers opportunity to experience this kind of freedom.
Outward Mindset Application
Ask three co-workers for advice about something today.
Pathways Toward Centeredness
Enthusiasm (loving the world in mystery and celebration): Before bed, think of three things that brought you joy in the day. Contemplate all the things that had to go “right” for you to have those experiences.
Questions for Reflection
When or where do you experience the most amount of freedom to be yourself? What is one thing you wish the world undershood more clearly about you?
One of our community practices is to gather every Sunday morning for prayer, friendship, and conversation about the week’s Scripture text. Doors open at 10:30am for coffee and donuts. Our circle begins at 11:00am. We would love to see you there!
The Open Table (@ The old DMV)
2640 N Portland Rd
Salem, OR 97301
“Liturgy” refers to the habits and practices humans use to form community around shared values and meaning. At Church at the Park, we desire to be a community of practice, becoming people who see the world through the eyes of the marginalized, making meaning through the lens of pain and suffering, and committing ourselves to non-violence in a wounded world. This weekly email is intended to provide pathways of practice for becoming the type of people who embody these values.
Many of our reflections on each week's text come from other sources. If you're interested in reading more of what inspires us, here our our two favorite reflections.