Alleluia on the Avenue: One in Spirit

by Fr. Chris Hardman

When we think about God as Trinity, the Holy Spirit's primary role is that of "connection." The Spirit binds the Father and the Son together and, indeed, binds all things together in love. So when we say we are "One in Spirit" it really means we are connected. It does not mean we think the same or look the same. It means that in the power of the Spirit we choose to be connected. Since we spend so much of our time disconnecting from God, each other, and the world, you can see why getting in touch with the Spirit and being "One in Spirit" is so important. Therefore, "One in Spirit" will be our overall theme for the 2014-2015 programmatic year.

You might also see why I was so struck by John Philip Newell's new book, The Rebirthing of God. This new offering is about "reconnecting!"

Reconnecting with the Earth
Reconnecting with Compassion
Reconnecting with the Light
Reconnecting with the Journey
Reconnecting with Spiritual Practice
Reconnecting with Nonviolence
Reconnecting with the Unconscious
Reconnecting with Love

These eight ways of reconnecting are ways that many Christians have identified as the direction the Spirit is leading us at this time in our history. So, for our Wednesday Adult Class this year we will use these themes as the outline for the year. Since reconnecting is more than just learning about it, we will spend more than one session on each subject. We will look at each chapter of John Philip Newell's book and then we will supplement our study with the work of several other authors including Richard Rohr, Ronald Rolheiser, Elizabeth Johnson, Huston Smith, Bruce Sanguin, Denis Edwards, and others.

For example, when we look at "Reconnecting with Compassion" we will spend several additional sessions learning the Enneagram. The Enneagram is not just another personality test that we can use to put each other in boxes. It is really designed to help us get ourselves out of our own boxes. Don Riso, Russ Hudson, Richard Rohr and others have helped me see that the patterns of happiness that we adopt as children keep playing out in our adult lives. We keep trying to make ourselves happy in the same old ways that never work. And as long as we trust these patterns we block compassion in our lives and keep ourselves disconnected. By learning the Enneagram we can identify these patterns which help us to be more compassionate and to reconnect with others.

If you are interested in joining this class, I recommend that you purchase and read John Philip Newell's new book, The Rebirthing of God. As always, you are welcome to attend all sessions or any session whether you read it or not. You won't be lost. But, you will get more out of this class if you follow the book. It is available online or if you would like me to order you a copy, let me know at

Our Adult Forum this fall will address being "One in Spirit" from a different perspective. Our word religion comes from the Latin root (re + ligare) which means to bind together. Perhaps religion has bound some of us together in small groups, but it has not done much in terms of binding us all together. In fact, it seems to be one of the primary factors in keeping us separated. Therefore, we are going to look at our own faith tradition and particularly the Episcopal tradition. Then we will look at some other Christian denominations and as many World faith traditions as possible. This will be accomplished by inviting those from other faiths to share their faith with us. As we look at these other traditions we will ask several questions. What do we have in common? How do we embrace those who think and act differently from ourselves? Is it possible to be "One in Spirit?"

Our kick-off for this programmatic year begins with our Ice Cream Social and our Alleluia on the Avenue outdoor worship service. Our guest band will be Deacon Blues who play the music of Steely Dan, Billy Joel, and Ray Charles-What'd I Say, that's right, Steely Dan, Billy Joel, and Ray Charles. We are in the process of designing this service which will take place on Sunday, August 24th. So Rikki Don't Lose That Number and Don't Hit the Road, Jack. Come Just The Way You Are and all you men remember to Tell Her About It!