Bishop John Shelby Spong
June 16, 1931 – September 12, 2021

Bishop Spong provided a much needed place for those of us who did not connect with traditional theology.
We love you Bishop Spong. You will be missed!

Christian principles help to make it through difficult times.


Question & Answer

Q: By A Reader
What Christian principles can help us make it through difficult times like these?

A: By Toni Anne Reynolds

Dear Reader,

It can feel so challenging to think that a tradition can remain relevant in a time of great tumult. I personally think that the most challenging times are the moments that birth the strongest aspects of a faith tradition. Despite not being able to gather in person there are many ways to stay grounded in Christian principles and find ways of connecting during this era of social distancing.

I come from a faith community that used prayer trees. This can be especially powerful during this start of the new year, with the fresh energy of resolutions and high hopes for the times to come. Group prayer is such an old way of convening. You can organize a monthly or weekly prayer time and each of the members of your community, group can commit to join in prayer for 15 minutes at the same time.

I know the gospel tells a different story of the moments just after Jesus’ execution, all of the disciples huddled together in one place. But Jesus and the disciples traveled with many people, and impacted many people. I suspect, with confidence, that their community was larger than the 13 of them. Surely, they experienced moments of separation, distance and uncertainty. These are the moments to employ the practices that were strengthened when things were “good”. Depending on your Christian persuasion, the principle of community is likely strong. This is a time of searching for new ways of being in community, but surely the strength of mind is always foundational. May you have the space to use your mind to connect with those in your community.

My favorite principle is communion, at least in the form of eating together. You may already be doing something like this, but having a meal together via video call, or again, at a designated time, is a great way to use the energy of this connective principle right now.

I know these seem like flimsy suggestions so I’ll end with the strongest one I’ve heard so far. If you were to wrap your arms around yourself as best you can, or simply massage your own feet or forearm, the brain doesn’t know the difference between it being your hand or someone else’s. But! The brain does register the contact as pleasing and helpful for that state of enjoyment we have when we receive a hug from another person. Healing touch is bringing on a whole new meaning in these times. So, as cheesy as it sounds, hug yourself, massage your own feet and do what you can to hear the voice of people who love you.

~ Toni Anne Reynolds
This Q&A was originally published on Progressing Spirit – As a member of this online community, you’ll receive insightful weekly essays, access to all of the essay archives (including all of Bishop John Shelby Spong), and answers to your questions in our free weekly Q&A. Click here to see free sample essays.
About the Author
Minister Toni Anne Reynolds is committed to singing flesh onto the bones of the Christian tradition by incorporating recently found texts of the ancient world into liturgy, sermons, and poetry. Toni’s Christianity forms a holy trinity with the psychological medicine of Tibetan Buddhism and the eternal Life found in Yoruba traditions. Balanced in an eclectic faith and focused in theology, Toni’s ministry offers a unique perspective on life, theology, and spirituality.

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