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Being Church – It’s all in

We are familiar with the powerful and humbling call of Pope Francis to be a church of the poor for the poor; how he expresses it in a deeply personal way and how he brings a way of being Church into reality through his simple encounter with all people. Currently within EREA, we are engaging our community in a process to renew the EREA Charter.  What has been interesting as this engagement has been taking place is the way in which the work of EREA is seen to make manifest multiple ways of being Church. For example, as we engage and encounter the world, whether that be through an immersion experience or a global classroom lesson, this is an experience and embodiment of Church that is shaped by the coming together of cultures. When we, as an EREA community, stand in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers, Church becomes a voice and a raft for hope. What does Church mean when we tend to the brokenness in our students and their families? What does it mean to be Church, when we acknowledge and tend to our own woundedness? It transcends belief and ritual and becomes a movement for transformation that recognises our common humanity. It is an accommodation system that expands by the energy of inclusion; particularly the poor, who when it is all stripped bare, is all of us. Indeed, this is the Body of Christ.


A Way of Being Church – The Mass on the World

A cosmic, Eucharistic way of understanding Church is powerfully expressed in Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s Mass on the World, which he wrote in 1922 while on a scientific expedition in a remote part of Western Mongolia.  This is part of his prayer:

Since once again, Lord – though this time not in the forests of the Aisne, but in the steppes of Asia – I have neither bread, not wine, not altar; I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself; I your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labours and sufferings of the world.

All the things in the world to which this day will bring increase; all those that will diminish; all those too that will die: all of them. Lord, I try to gather into my arms, so as to hold them out to you in offering. This is the material of my sacrifice; the only material you desire.

Over every living thing which is to spring up, to grow, to flower, to ripen during this day say again the words: This is my Body

And over every death-force which waits in readiness to corrode, to wither, to cut down, speak again your commanding words, which express the supreme mystery of faith: This is my Blood. 

(King, 2005. Teilhard’s Mass: Approaches to the ‘Mass on the World’, pp. 145-148).


Church…is you, me, we, and all between.

It is the choice to struggle, wrestle and wait.

The very stretch of life between here and there (grace).

The drama of humanity’s becoming – 

together, holding all with the memory and offering 

of an abundant home-coming -

and we are the hosts – daring to meet all life 

with a love both within and beyond us – Christ.

Church is an imagination – an unending horizon, and

an ever-expanding space, making room for the lost, torn and broken -

not one till we all meet and are met.

In this home stretch, Church is a choice - to hold and wait,

to not add weight to the dark but to accompany until the darkness lifts-

to sit in the in-between and stay and be seen.

To utter words of hope, and to carry Christ within; 

so that your humble offering can be seed and grace.

 
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Church…is you, me, we, and all between.