I love being part of the emergent movement. I love the space to think, learn, and grow, in ways that help bring faith to life. That space, one created in authenticity, and one that tries to live in authenticity, is something that I found liberating and engaging.
As I started dipping my toe in the emergent stream, the world opened up. The Bible became more real. The exposure to older traditions than my own opened the door to new experiences of faith that have been tested over time and found meaningful. Centering prayer, the daily office, and a deep connection to the Christian calendar changed my experience of faith. Liturgical colors, using art in worship, creating a space that reflected the themes we were studying; these were all things that were not only fascinating but also deeply meaningful and helped me grow.
Beyond those faith elements, was the experience of authentic friendship and community. This was something that I hadn’t experienced before in this way. In the context of the emergent community I found people living out lives that were truly open and real. There were no easy friendships or guaranteed groups to fit into, but there were people who shared similar interests, liked the same music, or cared about the same issues. And those things had value inside the community beyond just how we practiced faith.
This authentic and whole experience of life was refreshing. For once, when I met someone, I was just meeting a person who was on the same journey I was and we were heading the same direction. We didn’t have to pass a litmus test to be there and I could show up and just be present. I learned how to live out the definition of authenticity as shared by Brené Brown:
Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.
The longer I was there, the more I saw that this was not only how the people lived life, but that authenticity was also a stamp on the community. While it was, admittedly, hard to connect at first, they never claimed to be a “friendly” church. They were a group of people who gathered, celebrated Eucharist, and lived life together.
As we continue on in the reader/writer journey, this is a topic that I will continue to explore. I have found that this relational element is key to creating a healthy and vibrant community. Even though it’s kind of difficult to explain how it is so critical, I will keep trying.
One of the realities of living out authenticity, is that we walk the road in whatever condition we are in. We may be struggling or celebrating, joyful or fighting depression, broken or in the midst of healing. And it is these variations, these different perspectives and experiences, that make life together beautiful and rich. We get to walk together, sharing the journey in ways that we can’t do when we refuse to acknowledge that life is not the same for everyone.
The ability to embrace who we were created to be and to get to live that out with other like minded people committed to just being who they are is a foretaste of the Kingdom when we will all be the best of who we are and nothing more.