Tuesday, February 23, 2016

All Salvation in Spite of the Church

Daily(ish) Blogging in Lent 2016 - Day Nine
St. Cyprian [image source]
Saint Cyprian claimed that there was “no salvation outside the church.” Strange. Cyprian must have had a short memory. 

He must have forgotten that God saved the Hebrews from Pharaoh’s oppressive rod (Exodus 7:10). And that God saved the woman “caught in adultery” from being killed by the ever-zealous people of God (John 8:1-11). He must have even forgotten that God saved St. Paul from his love of killing heretics in God's name, thereby saving several others from martyrdom and an early grave (Acts 9:1-19).  

Yes, Cyprian must have forgotten all of these individuals, individuals who would become witnesses to God’s “mighty hand and outstretched arm.” (Deuteronomy 26:8)

And there they were, all of them! All there before the Church, without the Church, outside the Church. 

Of course Paul was the exception. The Church was there. He persecuted it. And he was rescued while still outside of it. He was still on the way. The scales fell from his eyes. 

But then again, so was the Spirit. On the way. There. Before. Beyond. Outside. 

The Spirit of God, the Lord, the Giver of Life, liberates here and there, wherever, blowing where it wishes. So says Christ. (John 3:8, Nicene Creed)

How could we have unimagined such a freedom, such lavishness? Who restricted our minds? Who put our minds back in Pharaoh's chains? Why would we build walls around salvation, liberation, the Giver of Life, as if she was something to control or to tame? How did we imagine that we might ever succeed? 

It seems that as high as our walls ascend, whatever the heights of our intentions, their main function is to prevent us from perceiving. 

There is Life. There is the Spirit. Inside, outside, in spite of the Church. Thank God.

Lord, Giver of Life, Spirit wild and free, save us, your Church, from our limitations.

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