The old proverb says that little birds in their nest should agree. That seems to make sense: argue or fall out with each other in the nest as the fledgelings grow, and someone is going to go over the side and perish. For all to flourish, everyone should get along and find ways to resolve differences, to make room for all and share what is available.
These days in the Church, we talk a lot about promoting good disagreement and making provisions for people who disagree, either with each other, or with what the Church is doing. The hope is that in finding useful ways to be different harmoniously, paths to reconciliation and mutuality can be promoted and have real effects in flourishing Church families and communities.
But one of things we can do in thinking about the ‘nest’ which is the Church family, is to understand why as human beings, getting along with each other is good for ourselves as embodied beings, and what this might mean for our Christian lives: as followers of Jesus, as disciples on a journey and as part of a faithful, worshipping community, a ‘nest’ of fledglings that Jesus longs to gather under his wings (Matthew 23.37).
Something to do:
Have a look at this article:
In the article, a neuroscientist talks about how human beings affect one another’s health and wellbeing, not only by being social and interdependent with family, friends and neighbours, but through intimate, caring relationships having a direct effect on our brains. She says:
When you’re with someone you care about, your breathing can synchronize, as can the beating of your hearts — whether you’re in casual conversation or a heated argument. This sort of physical connection happens between infants and caregivers, therapists and clients, even people taking a yoga class or singing in a choir together.
She suggests that our brains change and are continually reconfigured by our relationships. Good, caring relationships contribute to our overall health and wellbeing. Conversely, bereavement and loneliness can put more strain on our bodies (what she calls the ‘body budget’) and we are more likely to feel physically low.
Similarly, kind, positive and loving words are met by physical response which contribute to our wellbeing and happiness; bullying, aggressive people in the workplace, or long-term abuse and coercion can create stress that has detrimental effects on our bodies.
She makes the interesting point that we have to work harder and use more of our ‘body budget’ to be social with people with whom we are unfamiliar, so we tend to stick to the people we know and whom we know will give us the good feelings we crave, rather than make the effort to get to know the stranger.
Another interesting point is that she says that, while we draw physically beneficial things from our friends and families, we can also derive good benefits across the centuries – for example, from reading the Bible.
Some things to do; ideas to ponder:
- How do you think your ‘body budget’ changes when you are with your family, your friends, your church community, or in a group of strangers?
- What simple actions could we take to create health-giving friendships in our church life?
- What do you think about the role of the Bible in building up our physical, as well as mental and spiritual health?
- You could revisit the story of Zacchaeus in terms of the stress and insults he would have been subjected to as a tax collector and how his mind and heart are changed by being drawn into the friendship of Jesus.
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