‘Those who go out weeping, carrying seeds to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them’ (Ps. 126:6).
As we prepped for our ‘Integration’ (aka Living Waters Training) course at the Theology of the Body Institute, I was cheered by a prophetic word given me by a pastor, decades earlier, about Desert Stream Ministries hauling in freshly cut wheat, distinct from former harvests in its fragrant and oily sheen.
Today, we sing as we consider the ‘field’ we worked last week. United in ‘seed’—our common love for Pope St. John Paul II’s melding of anthropology, spirituality, and biblical theology and infused with a love for what is most authentic in each human being—we brought our pastoral application of how to best integrate JP’s Theology of the Body, honed over the last 42 years.
Under Christopher West’s gracious mediation, we plowed the seed of John Paul into 70 saints, each uniquely creative, willing to go where they had not quite gone before. Courageous. Some highlights:
1. Evangelical gift. DSM began in the Vineyard Christian Fellowship where we derived two keys: equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:12) then to advance God’s Kingdom by relying on the King’s Spirit to prophesy what is most real in another and to unite one with that truth. Given the proper boundaries and oversight we afforded the group, we equipped lay men and women to become witnesses, healers, and comrades of strugglers aspiring to integrate the true self. We woke up Catholics who might otherwise sleep through their vocation, looking to others to do what God asks of them.
2. Integration. John Paul’s vision of ‘orientation’—an active commitment ‘to the personal dignity of what is intrinsic to masculinity and femininity’ (TOB 131:4)—united everyone in pursuit of the same sexual goal. Many different starting points require a great leveler—the Cross under which we welcomed mercy. Our common disintegration drank in rain from heaven. Perhaps we fulfilled a true form of integration: men and women, evangelicals and Catholics, young and old, and persons facing disordered desire of every stripe (sexual lust to sexual indifference, from slavish devotion to misogyny) took ground in accepting our gift while recognizing our need of the other’s.
3. Warfare. Christians who lay aside pride, rainbow dreams, passivity, fear, religious punctiliousness, and other divides raise satanic ire. Our enemy hates TOB and Living Waters. He pulled out all the stops to deride us personally, divide us from each other, and distract us with minor calamities. We endured prayerfully for the joy set before us. Holy Spirit overtook the darkness and composed us. I kept seeing flames surrounding me as God exposed and burned off assailants. These efforts continue to this day but we unite rejoicing and battle together.
4. Reverencing Body. Catholics know how to set a fine table; TOB (thanks Jason!) leaders transformed a humble meeting room into a temple fit for a King. And the tabernacle, seat of Christ Himself, provided the focus and fire that empowered us throughout the week. Evangelicals marveled at the reverence Catholics accorded Jesus in this ‘tent of meeting’, and sound evangelical piety infused all with a reverence for the temple of each participant. Strong and sure was the call to repent and welcome God’s discipline where we have broken sexual boundaries and desecrated our fellows. In this one Church, we experienced a hastening of Jesus preparing a people for Himself. We washed each other’s lowest parts.
Jesus is preparing a harvest of finest wheat, and harvesters to reap the gold.
‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send out workers into the harvest field’ (Matt. 9:37-38).