By the Late Reverend Joseph Walker,
Edmonton Anglican Cursillo
Gathered in His name
Jesus once said that “wherever two or more are gathered in my name, I am there among them”. The basis of group reunion is just this: we gather together as fellow disciples “in the name of Jesus”. What make grouping different from all those other times we get together with friends is that little phrase “in my name”. While it is always good for a few Christian friends to get together and enjoy each other’s company, and we can often get together “in his name”, grouping is about getting together for a specific purpose.
Group reunion reminds us of the great commandment: We are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
Learning to love God
Learning to love God with all our heart means to love with all that we are, at the very core, the very heart, of our being. Jesus used the term “heart” very often in the Gospels. It is the work of the Spirit to give us “new hearts”, as the Scripture says “I will take away your heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh”. We depend upon the grace of God to give us new hearts.
Loving also involves three other things: soul, mind, and strength. I find it helpful to think that the three legged stool of Piety, Study and Action corresponds to soul, mind, and strength. And it helps to be a bit specific in looking at the ways we are learning to love God. Just as an athlete might look at different exercises for different muscles in order to achieve overall excellence and health, so we look at different ways in which God calls us to love him. How do we exercise our different spiritual “muscles”?
In Piety we learn to exercise our soul – what helps our soul to love God. This includes many things: worship and prayer, confession and self examination, how we deal with temptation, how we offer praise and thanks. It could also include our emotions and feelings, and how we use those in ourselves and in our personal relationships. How do we exercise our soul? Jesus said “take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble, and you will find rest for your souls.”
In Study we exercise our minds – what helps our minds and our thinking to love God. This includes taking a look at what we put into our minds. We look at how we think about God, and how we think about our place as Christians in the church and the world. How do we exercise our minds? Scripture tells us to “put on the mind of Christ”, and to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”.
In Action we exercise our strength – our ability to “do something”. It is when we take what we have experienced in worship and prayer and learning, and then we apply it in our daily lives. It is a “lead in” to the second great commandment – when we begin to love our neighbours as ourselves. There are many opportunities to exercise our strength in the church and in the world: “Go and make disciples”, “the Son of Man came to serve”, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.”
Of course the first great command is followed by the second – we are to love our neighbours as ourselves. I have a feeling this is because it is easy to fake my way through the first – after all, how would you know how much I’m loving God? But it’s not so easy to fake loving my neighbour. I actually have to do something.
In all these things we are not alone – grouping is a way of fellow disciples to share and encourage each other in learning to love God and neighbour, and in all things we depend upon the grace of love and example of Jesus, who calls us to gather “in his name”.