When I titled today’s reflection “It’s all in the Letters,” I was partly referring to the Myers-Briggs letters, but also partly referring to the Letters of the New Testament.
Paul’s letters are the earliest writings we have in the New Testament. They were written long before the Gospels … and so this idea that we are all CONNECTED even though we are very DIFFERENT is a core belief of Christianity.
Some parts of the body we can see … some we can’t.
Some parts of peoples’ personalities are evident … some aren’t.
But when we become part of a faith COMMUNITY or a church, we need to value and HONOR each of the differing parts because each one of us brings a GIFT to the table.
As an ENFP … an Extrovert, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiver … my way of approaching things in life will be very different from someone who is an ISTJ … and Introvert, Sensate, Thinking, Judger.
But God KNOWS that and puts us together so that we can each bring our GIFTS to whatever situation we are encountering. THAT’s why having the moments when we share in worship or getting together OUTSIDE of worship (like in choir, a book group, Tuesday prayer, Game Night … whatever) are so IMPORTANT because it’s there that we learn about each other and who we ARE.
The Myers-Briggs type that you were BORN as is not who you will be throughout your life because we LEARN other ways of being. I may be an ENFP, but if I hadn’t learned to be a pretty darn good “J” who could plan, make lists and move groups step-wise through a process, I never would have made it as a teacher, a community organizer OR a pastor.
We all LEARN other ways of being. It’s just that our “fall back” position, if you will, is what we were born as … that’s what we’re hard wired to be. And that’s important for two reasons:
ONE is that during times of stress, change, and transition … we revert to our preferred mode of operating, and that’s these four letters. And frankly, friends, we as a congregation, are in just such a place now. So the more we can be AWARE of how we naturally want to act and react, the more we can tone it down a little and recognize that God has sent us others who are different from us as GIFTS for the sake of the whole body of Christ. God did not send those people who are different from us as PUNISHMENT to TRY our patience or to make us work harder … even though it might seem that way sometimes.
The SECOND reason that it’s good for us to realize what our “type” is … is because it can help shape the ways we interact not just with each OTHER, but with GOD.
God is ALL types.
Let me say that again … GOD … is … ALL … Types. There is a part of God that is a brilliant THINKING introvert.
There’s also part of God who is a creative FEELING extrovert.
So our worship should include something for everyone … tough challenge … one that Allison and I continue to try and meet every week … but that’s our GOAL.
Some visitors will walk right in, introduce themselves and stay for coffee hour. Some others find that really, REALLY hard … they don’t like it, they don’t want it.
Does it mean we are a failure if they don’t? No. Maybe they’re introverts and they need to go home and reflect and think about what they’ve experienced. It has nothing to DO with us.
Some of us might feel like we never want to bring up anything personal during the Emerging Wisdom part of worship. And that’s ok. Maybe you sit and listen and are touched and moved by what OTHERS share. But for some, sharing those things … or sharing prayer requests every week … maybe that’s important because you’re extroverts.
See what I mean?
It’s easy to say, “Gosh, I’ve never had a spiritual experience like Rachel described.” But don’t think there’s something WRONG with you if you haven’t. You’ve had other experiences and thoughts that Rachel will never have.
Steve read: The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
There are people who consider themselves part of this church who we NEVER see … the Deacons visit them on our behalf … maybe a few others do … but what about people who stop in here for worship and then leave right afterwards and we don’t know anything about them? They are part of us, too. You don’t have to be a MEMBER to be part of us.
Those who come to the SoutHeart Fellowship – our ministry with RPC. Are they part of us? Sure. And the people at the Meadows? They’re part of us, too. We are CHANGED by their prayers and their contributions to us.
And if you look at people in the Bible … the early church leaders and the Old Testament leaders … we have different combinations of abilities there as well.
How many of you have S and J in your own descriptions? Well, then you are like James, Matthew and Moses. (You’re also like Eeyore or Linus in Charlie Brown.)
S and P? (Not Standard and Pours but Sensate Perceivers …) Well, you probably feel akin to Peter and the Gospel of Mark, then. Also to Tigger and Snoopy.
Intuitive and Thinking? Welcome to your soul-mates John and Abraham … or Pooh Bear and Charlie Brown.
And the NF’s? The Intuitive Feelers? The apostle Paul and the Gospel of Luke. Or, Rabbit and Lucy.
Students of human nature recognize these traits all around them.
Now there are prayer practices that will appeal to each group as well, and I’ll be sending those out in the eNews, so if you are not currently receiving our mailings, let me have your email address and I’ll make sure you get them. It’s just a little too much information for this morning.
Augustinian Spirituality, for instance, is especially helpful for those of us who are NF’s.
Those who are SJ’s would relate more to the Ignatian Method of prayer which places oneself in the Biblical SCENE.
And so on …
It’s really fascinating.
But if you think about it … if we are building a RELATIONSHP with God, then it helps to know what we are in terms of where we are coming from and what makes sense to us… what our STYLE is.
Okay, that’s enough for today.
I hope I’ve given you some things to think about (and to FEEL ) as we begin to gear up for the program year ahead. And may we always keep in mind Paul’s wisdom … God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can.
And so let us close today with prayer … God … you know all that we are and all that we can become. Please help us to use this information and insight to know ourselves better so that we can welcome others and together, build up your church, we ask in Jesus’ name.