Yesterday I received an amazing comment from paulfg that I’d like to share:
Two thoughts merge.
The first is your picture for these posts. The space-suit. Anyone could be within. That suit brings me naked to this fellowship. I am not “me” with the image to maintain. The suit is my “image” – the same image each of us have. We are – when suited and booted – as good as naked. Our personal appearance does not matter. Ergo – we are naked before each other.
The second is these posts and blogs. How they bring an essence of each, yet leave behind the unnecessary. Leave behind the day-to-day. The “ordinary”. They bring the extraordinary. The common connection between all. The connection of soul and love. A connection where each is heard and each is known. A place of healing and safety.
So why not begin with that stripped-back minimalist worship: (symbolic) “suited” nakedness before each other and God, and (actual) “soul” nakedness before each other and God. Worship that could take place without the need for physical proximity (and all the trappings of personal preference … “baggage”? …) that proximity brings.
And then once that connection is firm and has breached the “ordinary day-to-day stuff” (baggage) … I suspect coming together in physical proximity would no longer give rise to all the obstacles to “worship” that have been discussed here.
Today I am bringing this comment to your attention because Paul has found the whole point of this exercise, as several others of you have as well. If you take our metaphor of nakedness and compare it to the spacesuit, the two might seem at first to be opposites, but in reality, they are parallel; here’s how:
To be naked is to be vulnerable. A naked person is vulnerable to the environment in a number of ways. There is no protection from the sun, no protection from the cold and no protection from rough or sharp surfaces. Of course, we are also vulnerable socially and emotionally if there are others around. It takes a certain degree of trust to be seen naked, and a certain degree of trust to enter God’s presence naked. If we are wearing a spacesuit we are also vulnerable, for even the slightest puncture or tear means we are literally in a life or death situation. Emotionally, we would be moving around in an environment that is so hostile that we could be killed at any instant, and we would have this terrible reality in the back of our minds at all times.
Socially, wearing a spacesuit with other astronauts takes away our individual identities, for we are part of a team; there is only a group identity. To be “naked” in community is also to set aside our individual images, for all are equal, no one is able to project anything other than humanity, and once again, that is the power of the metaphor.
To be naked before God, in community, does not require, however, any great trust for the community, it only requires that we trust God.
In short, it means that we trust God enough to put the other members of the community ahead of ourselves, leaving the outcome in God’s hands. Can you think of another way to describe this state of being?
Yes, that’s right: It is love in action.
Please take a moment to think this over; feel free to comment, of course. Tomorrow we’ll wrap up our most amazing conversation in what I expect to be the last post of this series; see you then!