Monday, March 10, 2014

A Faith Not Cut Off from the World

Basil of Caesarea (329-379) was born in modern-day Turkey. His grandfather was martyred, and his brother, Gregory of Nyssa, became a very influential bishop. In an age marked by doctrinal battles within the church, Basil was a tireless defender of orthodoxy. He is known as an early developer of Christian monasticism, and an incredible preacher and writer. Among his many writings are some of the church’s earliest prayers. 
Basil first left the world to join the monastery, but eventually brought the monastery to the world through the city of Basiliad, also called “The New City.” This was a giant community of monastic men and women working with doctors and other laypeople to provide food, clothing, shelter, and medical assistance to the poor of Caesarea. He later went on to become a priest and a bishop, but he always kept his vision of a monastic life not cut off from the world but embracing the pain and sorrow of the world.
Lord, help us believe : that we might see you come.
Basil of Caesarea wrote, “When someone steals a person’s clothes, we call him a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat hanging unused in your closet belongs to those who need it; the shoes rotting in your closet to the one who has no shoes. The money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.”

Lord, you are always weaving the things of heaven with the things of earth. You dwell among us, above us, and within us. Make us expectant of angels tarrying to do your work. Form us into eager messengers, ready to speak peace in broken communities. Amen. (Taken from Common Prayer for Ordinary Radicals - check 'em out)

I am inspired to be a part of a community of people who understand this well. We started gathering clothes for Christian Community Service Center a little over one month ago, and will send the "coats unused" and the "shoes rotting in our closets" to clothe many who have none. Thanks fellow ordinary radicals - Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro - for bringing Basil out a little from obscurity.