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A People of Vision

Yesterday I began this message on "A People of Vision" with a short, guided imagery (compliments of Rev. Tim Kutzmark in the Soul Matters resource)

Imagine, if you will, the ocean.

Picture the ocean in your mind’s eye. Imagine the expanse, stretching in every direction to the horizon, an open vastness of water, on every side of you. See its color, the size and strength of the waves.

And now imagine that in this vast sea, you are sitting in a boat. See the boat itself as it floats in that wide, open sea. See the boat’s color and shape and size. And see yourself, clearly and fully, in that boat.

When we explored the imagery together, the majority of people pictured themselves in a small boat alone in the middle of a vast sea. Only a handful of people pictured themselves in a large boat along with many other people.

So… hang on to this thought… we’ll come back to it.

This week we’re moving beyond our personal spiritual visions to our visions for this spiritual community. But first, let me address why there was no scripture to go with this message. Honestly couldn’t find a scripture that worked for me. And it isn’t because there weren’t "people of vision" in the biblical stories. God and Wisdom had a vision of the world in the Genesis creation myth; Moses, Aaron and the other leaders of the Israelites had a vision of freedom for their people; the prophets – Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah and so many more – had visions of a world without oppression from corrupt leaders, or foreign religions or other nations. Mary the mother of Jesus had a vision of a world where the lowly were lifted up and the mighty brought low. And, of course, Jesus was led by a vision of how the world could be (which we’ll talk more about next week). The problem is that there wasn’t a passage (that I could find) about how to have people work together to find and pursue a vision for the future.

So many of these biblical visionaries were individuals (alone in a boat in the middle of a vast sea) who often couldn’t get others on board, and occasionally found themselves at the bottom of a pit, or in the belly of a great fish, or exiled because of their prophetic words. For a vision to be successful, it needs to be supported by other people and resources.

The apostle Paul had a vision of building house churches all over the Mediterranean area, but it couldn’t have happened if people hadn’t volunteered their homes, if men and women hadn’t financially supported the endeavor, if others hadn’t continued the teachings and meetings when Paul was thrown in prison or when he moved on to start another house church in another city.

We need each other. To talk about a vision for our spiritual community we need to get out of our individual boats and get into one big ship and decide which way we’re going to go!

Sacred Journeys began with the vision of a handful of people. We wanted to raise a different voice in the Christian community, a voice that honored the continuing evolution of our religion, a voice that studied and learned from archeology, history, linguistics, science, psychology, and new discoveries like the Gnostic gospels. We wanted to be a voice that was comfortable with questioning, with growing, with challenging the oppressive practices of the institutional church and society. We latched onto the progressive Christian label because we wanted to progress, to move forward in our faith and understanding of the divine. We called ourselves a community instead of a church because church, for many of us, had hurt us and carried so much negative baggage. And we certainly weren’t trying to perpetuate another institution.

We also made giving back to the community, as well as mission and outreach, main components of who we wanted to be because faithing, our faith in action, was more important than any words I could use on Sunday morning, and we weren’t asking for anyone to profess specific beliefs to be a part of us.

While the original vision began with a small group of folks, and while I may be the figurehead and the one who publicly talks the most, and while the board carries the weight of the decisions that need to be made for the community, we could not exist without all of you. And we could not carry the vision without each of you carrying a part of the vision as well.

None of us are out on this spiritual journey alone in a vast empty sea. We are on a cruise ship together, counting on one another for our survival, for direction, for support, for laughter and friendship and so much more.

I found a wonderful poem by Margaret Wheatley called "Turning to One Another" that speaks so beautifully of what it looks like to work together to find a vision.

There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.
Ask: “What’s possible?” not “What’s wrong?” Keep asking.
Notice what you care about.
Assume that many others share your dreams.
Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Talk to people you know.
Talk to people you don’t know.
Talk to people you never talk to.
Be intrigued by the differences you hear. Expect to be surprised.
Treasure curiosity more than certainty.
Invite in everybody who cares to work on what’s possible.
Acknowledge that everyone is an expert about something.
Know that creative solutions come from new connections.
Remember, you don’t fear people whose story you know.
Real listening always brings people closer together.
Trust that meaningful conversations can change your world.
Rely on human goodness.

Stay together.

It makes sense that every five years or so (and it has been six), we make sure we’re on course, make sure we all know who we are and why we are. It makes sense to, as the poem said, ask “what’s possible [now]?” To think about what we care about and to share the dreams we may have for our community. It makes sense to talk to one another about what is important for this community, to hear different points of view and be intrigued by them, and curious about them. We each bring something unique to the table.

This is what we’re asking you to be a part of in the next two weeks. Real listening and real sharing. Perhaps we’ll find that we’re right on track and we can celebrate that. Or perhaps we’ll find that there is more that is possible for us, that there is energy from us as a community (not just one person) to explore something new, and we’ll celebrate that, too.

Whatever we do, we do it together, traversing the spiritual landscape in one ship.

There is a quote I read recently… the author is unknown… that I’d like us to consider:

“What will mess you up most in life is the picture in your head of how it is supposed to be.”

This is true in so many ways, but certainly when it comes to visioning. How can we keep an open mind to the possibilities if we have a picture stuck in our head of "how it is supposed to be"?

No vision is perfect. They are all limited in the sense that they reflect a certain time, a certain set of circumstances, a certain set of leaders. Evolution and growth must be allowed in our vision. Understanding that life changes must be allowed in our vision. Just think about all the things that have happened in the last 12 years that could affect who we are and why we are.

Here is what I hope from this visioning in the next two weeks… I hope that this process will build more bonds within our community. I hope that we’ll come to know each other better. I hope that we’ll take the time to really think about what unique role Sacred Journeys can play in our lives and in the community. I hope we’ll not be defending our positions, but that we’ll be a playful people exchanging visions and helping each other encounter new and larger worlds. I hope that we will be a people who ask with a smile, “What’s possible?” “What new vision is calling to us?”

Love & Light!