Soliton II | The Other

215370450 6Af491Bbc6Si has posted some reflections on Soliton, and makes some excellent points about the terrible way in which The Bridge community have been treated by the local city council. A pregnant mother. Homeless. On Christmas Eve. Would your church have turfed her out? They didn’t, and they’ve been turfed too.

But their mission of hospitality goes on, and permeated everything to do with Soliton. Which has left me reflecting: what else is the gospel, other than a gospel of welcome? Jesus summarised the law as ‘love God, love each other’, and I’ve written here before that I’m increasingly drawn to simplify this to ‘love the other’. God the ‘Other’, asylum seekers as the ‘other’, our secret, hidden selves as the ‘other’.

So how do we go about this? Some thoughts that came up in conversation in the sessions:

  • Be generous. Gift exchange, as we explored in Peter’s journey into seeing the Gentile believers as not-other, is an important way of breaking down barriers. It may be the very thing that separates us from the apes (as I explored here) and inextricably linked to the indwelling of the Spirit.
  • Visit your dirt pile. Meditate on that which you consider dirt, and thus explore the boundary systems you are using to define inclusion/exclusion. Christ’s radical attitude to dirt made him a major threat to the social control the religious of the day enjoyed. Have we too created a church ‘purified to the point of sterility’, as Jung put it?
  • Hospitality begins at home. Generosity to your self does not mean going out and treating yourself to a new plasma screen. It does mean accepting yourself. As Tillich put it bluntly: ‘Simply accept the fact that you are accepted’. The model that Christ showed may be helpful: in his baptism he experienced God’s acceptance. In the desert that followed he battled to accept who he was. And this led to his ministry, in radical acceptance and love for the other, wherever he found them.

What was so refreshing about the whole Soliton experience was that all of these traits were not just talked about, but lived out. It was a generous, dirty, accepting, hospitable place. Too often we find ourselves in places that appear to love either God or the other. But here was a place where the other was God. One that recognised that our mission to love the other is simply a journey to the place where God already is: the place of radical acceptance.

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3 responses to “Soliton II | The Other”

  1. Whatever the conflict (I’m sure it meant frustration and pain) with a city council, we were non-the-wiser as “house guests”. If fact, more than ever we felt welcomed and an arm of inclusion extended to us. More than ever the boundary between practitioners was whittled down. If there are no walls between the “published” and the “unpublished” then there is yet ever more hope that we will not make a distinction between the “saved” and the “unsaved”
    The weight of the Kingdom is just too heavy to carry from the top, isn’t it?
    I’m sure The Bridge Community is heartbroken over the loss of their beautiful space.
    Yet it really has nothing to do with them. All they did was gain. (Yes, they gained a lot of hard work and they gained the comradeship of a shared work)

  2. I wasn’t at Soliton so I don’t know what exactly was discussed regarding the transition out of our downtown location. But, as someone who is still processing what feels very much like a loss, I’ve yet to see the “gain.”
    The church is not a building argument continues to trouble me because often for those within the city who are most in need,the building is their best reference point for the church. The building was a refuge for the lonely and the outcast. It was a symbol of hope for the mentally ill who walked past it numerous times a day. It was many things and now it stands useless and empty while we gather in places that are not easily accessible to those who need belonging the most.

  3. On second thought, I suppose I/we could scoop those people up and bring them with us to the various gathering locations. Sometimes change sucks.