The LCC lectionary readings this week are focused on sincerity in spiritual practice. The gospel reading from Matthew 23 is the bit where Jesus says to the scribes and pharisees (nice, educated religious people, like us): Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but within are full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness. I have to admit that I enjoy the rather high-blown KJV English of the LCC lectionary, despite all its problems as a translation (and the fact that I wouldn’t use it in any context outside my personal devotions).
Sincerity is a challenge for independent sacramental christians. Too often we have hooked our identities to the larger liturgical churches, whether through imitation, protest, or both. We use their names to label ourselves, and explain that we’re “just like them, except…” We also sweep our weirdness and more unusual practices under the rug, and fall over ourselves apologizing for the nature of our communities. “We know a lot of our members are ordained, but that’s only because…” It’s high time to stop this nonsense. We need to discover our own Spirit-given ecclesial identities, and to look openly and honestly at our life together, to see how Christ is moving in surprising ways among us. There is no need to hide or minimize our distinctiveness, for it is in that distinctiveness that we will discover clues to our vocation/s in the larger Body of Christ.
Sincerity also brings to mind the only restriction on preaching and teaching in the anthroposophically-connected Christian Community. The priests of the CC are free to teach as they see fit, as long as they are in accord with the sacraments they celebrate. At least in my observation, this usually is taken to mean that the priests are not to contradict the text of Steiner’s sacramental rites. However, I think that all of us, lay and ordained, could take this directive at a deeper level.
How do we teach, preach, and live in accord with the sacraments we celebrate? Are my actions self-giving and noursishing as the eucharist? Do I embody forgiveness and transformative grace in my interactions with others? Are my relationships (to friends, to ideals, to community) marked by the fidelity celebrated in matrimony? And so on… Only to the extent that I can (falteringly) answer yes, am I living in true sincerity.