I finally got a full week to focus on putting together my new book: Holy Currencies. I love the writing process because when I have concentrated time to immerse myself in a subject, about which I am passionate, the focused attention takes me to a deeper place almost like an alternative reality in which everything is arranged differently, and yet makes perfect sense. The job of a writer is often about finding ways to describe this reality. This reality cannot be explained in a few lines of text. It cannot be described in a few pictures. It is multidimensional and requires a multi-faceted, multi-perspective approach in describing it.
I began my journey into this alternative reality a few years ago when I was trying to develop resources that could help churches address issues around sustainability. Most churches, like most not-for-profit organizations, operate out of a linear charity model. That is, they get money from their donors and the money is spent to support the stated mission of the organization. When the membership of many churches continues to decline and money is not flowing equitably in our economy, this linear charity model becomes unsustainable.
As I researched the not-for-profit organizations that are sustainable, I discovered that many of these organizations do not think linearly, but instead, have found a way of recycling the resources that come their way. To those who have not entered this way of thinking, these organizations and their leaders were like miracle workers. They can do more with less. They can create something out of nothing. They can turn waste into resources. They see the unemployed and homeless as people who have the time and skills that can exchange into other kinds of currencies, such as relationship, leadership, and truth, etc. They see the universe as one giant recycling process. They see local community the same way. They don’t hold on to resources; they let them go, let them flow, in order to re-circulate and rejuvenate the community.
Once I took the linear model and wrapped it around to create a recirculating model, I entered an alternate world of thinking about resources. For about a year, I talked about this “cycle of blessings” and people either understood it quickly, becoming very excited, or they looked at me puzzled. For the last couple of years, I have been trying to find ways to describe this cycle of blessings to those who are puzzled so that more church leaders can enter this alternative reality in which I and other sustainists live, hence, the attempt to write this book called Holy Currencies.
Jesus functioned in an alternative reality that is based on love. Most people around him, including his closest friends, did not get it. He would say things like “you must be born again” or “born of the spirit” and they would not understand or would even misinterpret them. I think what he meant by being born of the spirit is to enter into this alternate way of thinking and perceiving the world. For Jesus, to enter this alternate reality means to believe in the forgiveness and unconditional love of God and in our gratefulness for this love, we act in the same patterns toward others, like Jesus, to the point of giving up ourselves for others. In doing so, the love and grace that flow from God is being re-circulated through our networks of relationships. When we believe in this unconditional love and act from that place, we enter an alternate reality where the impossible becomes possible, where miracles can actually happen, where sustainability can be achieved in a seemingly unsustainable world.
Invite members of your community to gather and explore their network of relationships:
Reflection Questions for Trinity Sunday (Year B):
Acts Isaiah 6:1-8
Eric H. F. Law
For competent leadership in a diverse changing world
Upcoming Opportunities to Study with The Sustainist:
Kaleidoscope Summer Institute: Missional Ministry in the Grace Margin, Holy Currencies and Community Transformation
St. Paul’s Cathedral Center, Los Angeles, CA
Holy Currencies: Creating Sustainable Missional Ministries
Rainbow Lodge Retreat Center, North Bend (near Seattle), WA
Register at: www.kscopeinstitute.org