Community & Communion

Rabbi Harold Kushner, in his recent book, Nine Essential Things I Have Learned About Life, passes along wisdom from his advanced place near the sunset of his human life.  He writes: “My theology is less and less about who God is or what God does, and more and more about who we are and what we do because of what God means to us.”  A tremendous theologian who knows not only about God but also knows God better than most of us, Kushner admits that God remains unknowable to us while we exist in our earthen vessel yet, at the same time, we can catch glimpses of His engagement in our lives and His desire for us to share in the heaven that awaits.  In these glimpses we enter into communion with Him, we breathe His grace, we soak in His mercy, and we find ourselves existing in His mysterious love.  As Kushner shares from his years of experience, divine grace is discovered in our relationships with others (God’s people) and in our communion with the world (God’s creation).

“Communion” refers to the common union that we share; “community” points to the common unity that we seek; and “communication” speaks of the common action in which we engage.  Collectively, these three terms emphasize relationships: with God, with one another, and with the world-at-large, including the one that awaits us after earthly death.

The Bible reveals much about relationships.  Hidden among these teachings is a mandate to tithe, i.e., to give a tenth portion of what we possess to God’s work, for His greater glory, in this realm.  We have 168 hours each week and we spend approximately sixteen hours awake each day; so we probably ought to give about an hour and a half daily to being mindful of God, to awakening ourselves to His presence.  If we have a forty hour work week, we probably ought to spend about four hours actively carrying out His work, too, through service outreach or faith that finds form in ministry.  With 168 hours a week, we shouldn’t think that giving one in communal worship on the Sabbath is a big sacrifice.  As we increasingly come to know the Lord via tithing our time, talents, and treasures, we will increasingly delve into our faith by putting it into action and we will also increasingly strengthen our union with God by gaining divine energy and passion.  From daily prayer and conversations with the Lord to Sunday Eucharist, to spiritual readings, to service to the poor, to communing with nature in God’s cathedral of creation, we discover who we are and recognize that what we do in relationship with God is an essential life learning.

Consider your past week and the 112 or so waking hours you were given: how many of them did you spend on advancing the work of the Lord?  What do you possess that you would consider sharing (tithing) for His greater glory here on earth?