Lam. 1:17-22; 2 Cor. 1:8-22; Mark 11:27-33
Labyrinths come in all shapes and sizes. The one at First Pres is identical to the 12th Century labyrinth in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France. It is spectacular. I got thinking about labyrinths through our scriptures today, where travel is so prominent, especially 2 Corinthians with Paul’s travels encountering a God who anoints us, puts his seal on us, gives us the gift of the Spirit, yet we are also needing to walk with God too. It is a two-way street of faith.
I love our labyrinth for its openness, filling our large Watchorn Hall. Just as Watchorn invites and welcomes with its spaciousness, so too the labyrinth welcomes and invites. Just the other day I led the youth in a Guided Walk entitled “From Darkness to Light.” Our readings this week are calling us from darkness to light. Holy Week does the same thing. It was a great walk, and the youth are so energizing and insightful. They are also open to new things and are at a place spiritually where charting out new adventures is almost expected.
One of the other great joys of the labyrinth (esp. when doing these guided walks) is that the labyrinth invites us to walk the path together. In a very real way it asks us to live in the Land of Oneness, even if just for a short while.
Oh how our church needs to experience this. We seem to have forgotten we are all one in Christ. Did we forget to bring our Bibles? Did we forget to crack them open and read them? We have become brainwashed by a numb Church that is afraid of its own shadow, paralyzed by the fear of our own irrelevance, drinking the Kool-Aid of the prosperity gospel and the consumerist culture around us. Somewhere along the line we got unity confused with conformity, forgetting that God calls us to unity in the midst of our diversity. Oh how the church needs to live in the Land of Oneness again, stop being deathly afraid of its diversity, trade in its obsession with individualism, and reclaim community instead of celebrating divisiveness at every turn.
Oh how our country needs to hear this too. So often we live in the Land of No, the Land of Ego, the Land of Narcissism, the Land of Dissension. “Walk the path together?? With you? F-you” becomes the cry of this diseased world. It has been heartbreaking to watch our country devolve into a land of guns, violence, oppression, where out-and-out lies, hostility, and obstruction are found at every turn.
Gone are the days of basic civility in public discourse. We have become panderers to the least common denominator. Gone are the days when talking bad about the President of the United States is an impossibility. Gone are the days when a President is able to live out his Constitutional responsibilities for 4 full years. Now we dismiss the vote of the people, who twice elected this man to 4-year terms, instead silencing the vote of the people after 3 years, trusting we have become so numb to the discourse we have forgotten basic liberty, no longer care, or are no longer listening. In fact, evil is counting on it.
It is a world where people are easily offended by someone’s words, but seem blind to the violence inherent in their own words. This is where carrying guns is the norm, individualism trumps everything, and where beliefs quickly devolve into violent outbursts, where racist underpinnings, xenophobia, and rallies that include sucker punches, armed police, and rubber bullets become the norm. Fascism is not far behind, friends.
The labyrinth calls us into a space where that kind of world becomes an increasing impossibility. The labyrinth is more than just an ancient tool, but a spiritual tool that God can use to call us beyond ourselves. God calls us to turn our world of violence, poverty, and hate upsidedown. Unity does not begin in conformity, but in unity of purpose. That can start at the labyrinth. This is what Paul means when he says in 2 Corinthians that our word to you has been ‘Yes and No’ but with God it is always ‘Yes’.
It has been said that Life as maze and Life as labyrinth are two opposite concepts. This is so true. The purpose of a maze is to get lost. The purpose of a labyrinth is to be found.
I invite you to walk the path with me Thursday night at 5pm. It is Maundy Thursday. The theme is Manna in the Wilderness. We will wander the wilderness together encountering God’s goodness along the way. My hope is that we meet up with God, as we eat of the manna together, walk together, pray together, and experience God anew in our daily walk. My prayer is that we see God’s ‘Yes’ in togetherness.
Come walk with me. Come experience the radicalness of community and togetherness.