Prompt 3: My Dream

I dream of the church that Jesus dreamt of.  I dream of a church that will not label me a heretic for believing that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. I dream of a church that will welcome all people to the table, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or anything else that would serve as an excuse to say, “No, not you.”  I dream of a church that will recognize everyone’s gifts, not just those who meet some misguided criteria.  I dream of a church that will include all of God’s people and not just those who are in positions of power.  I dream of a church whose leaders will embrace the sensus fidelium and not just the sensus magisterium.  I dream of a church that will “seek collaborators in ministry so that we can be animators according to the Spirit rather than dominators according to the world.”  I dream of a church that will “renounce forever the appearance and the substance of wealth…avoid[ing] everything that may appear as a…preference to the wealthy and the powerful” and renew the preferential option for the poor.  I dream of a church in which the stories of women in Scripture and Christian tradition will be pronounced from the pulpit.  I dream of a church where women may proclaim the good news, as Mary of Magdala was first commissioned to do by the risen Christ.  I dream of a church in which women and married people are among the ordained clergy.  I dream of a church in which women’s vocations are not limited to virginity or motherhood in the eyes of the rule makers.  I dream of a church in which feminism is not a four-letter word.   I dream of a church in which I no longer have to dream of the church I am dreaming about.

The church I imagine has divorced people receiving communion.  The church I imagine does not have male celibate priests preaching about marriage or child rearing to their flock.  The church I imagine has a woman priest celebrating Mass and preaching the gospel.  The church I imagine is collegial with decision-making shared among its members, clergy & laity alike.  The church I imagine practices what it preaches.  The church I imagine does not kowtow to the rich among its members.  The church I imagine does not have little girls asking, “Why can’t I be a priest?”  The church I imagine does not have men and women having to choose between marriage and ordination. 

The life I imagine is the life I have been blessed to live.  I have been blessed with a loving and supportive family of origin.  I have been blessed with friends who have become family and family who have become friends. I have been blessed with a husband who supports me unconditionally.  I have been blessed with children and grandchildren.  I have been blessed to live in a country where I have been afforded the opportunity to reach goals beyond my wildest dreams.  If I were to re-imagine my life, it would look like the life I have lived, with all its ups and downs, all of its good and bad decisions, all of its scars and blemishes, all of its joys and sorrows.  The live I imagine is the life I have been blessed to live.

6 thoughts on “Prompt 3: My Dream

  1. Thank you for laying out such a grand and beautiful image of church – I found myself saying “amen!” as I read it. Your final paragraph where you describe your fulfillment personally with family and friends stands in stark contrast to your earlier paragraphs where you describe the gap between the ideal and the actual of your experience of church. I offer a few invitations to draw you deeper:

    As you reflect on how blessed, grateful, and fulfilled you have felt in your relationships, how might you see church through that lens? For example, how does the “unconditional support” you describe experiencing in your marriage translate into the church you envision? What would unconditional support look like, feel like, be shaped like in the church you dream of?

    Secondly, where do you feel the Church you dream of within you? On Monday in our large group session, there was some talk about “somatics” and the body – where do you feel it in your body when you envision and breathe with the image of this collegial and welcoming Church?

    Finally, when have you caught glimpses of and found yourself living into this vision of Church? What are the moments when you have said, “aha! That’s it! This is church!” Can you get into touch with those moments of consolation – imagine them, return to them with your five senses? Where does the Spirit move in you as you revisit those glimpses?

    1. Thank you, Rhonda, for your invitation to go deeper. I have recorded these questions in my discernment journal for meditation and contemplation over the next few days. Stay tuned!

  2. Hi Barbara- I loved everything that tells your story but most of all I love the use of the word “animators of the spirit.” We are on the eternal path together and I take your hand and we will justly walk collaboratively in the here and now, in the reality of cosmic entanglement! Diane

  3. Hi Barb, I love your description of church this way. I want to be in that church too! What might be some steps that you can take to begin to move forward in that direction? What concrete things can you do? What might your mind set need to be in order to light a fire in others to join you in your vision so they too can say, “Yes! I want that too! How can I help?”?

    And so that you don’t get discouraged that lots of things don’t happen all at once (or even a few things), remember that we are each called to add our little grains of sand and allow God to work through us – not us do the whole thing! I love you, MAM!

  4. I wholeheartedly second everything you said about the church you dream of–getting rid of all the junk and toxins so the church can be a welcoming and nourishing environment.

    Where we’re very different is that I don’t have a loving and supportive family of origin. Marriage hasn’t been a source of support for me either. So when I dream of an ideal church, I’m looking for one that provides a sense of family-like love and belonging for people like me who haven’t found that in traditional family structures. That’s why church matters to me, how I understand its mission. I wonder why it matters to you? Once you clear all the junk out and make it participatory, what do you want it affirmatively to do?

    1. The church matters to me because my relationship with God is what grounds me and the church has been a major factor in helping me cultivate that relationship. I have had a good life, no doubt, the bad stuff was all my own doing! There have been countless times in my life where I am not sure what I would have done had it not been for my faith and my relationship with God. Did I mention I’m on husband #4? That’s one part of my “wildest dream” I never imagined! So my road has not been smooth but God has walked it with me, even when I didn’t know it, and “here I am.” What I want the church affirmatively to do is to affirm the love of God for each and every one of us, to create a space where we are all welcome to bring all of ourselves to the table, with all of our blemishes, sins, scars, faults, fears, pain…and gifts; where our relationship with the Divine is nurtured with and through our relationships with each other; where we can meet God in the Eucharist and in the hymns and in communal prayer; where we can be fed and feed others. That’s why it matters to me.

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