All in how you look at it...

God's grace overflows the church. But one can conceive of this as the Spirit being poured out into the church, and spilling over, like wine poured excessively into a goblet, in which case the church is the primary intentional means, the desired form superior to the formless excess -- even if the excess works of the Spirit outside of the church are still God's good work. Or one can conceive of this as the church holding itself as a vessel into the overflowing of God's Grace in the Spirit, like a cup in a waterfall far too large for it, in which case the church humbly submits to receive what it can from God, who is eternally prior. "Good order" is routinely invoked for the former view, but the latter seems to me better order, in the sense that we have panned out from the close view and seen that more is going on. The notion that God's grace is precious to us need not imply in any way that it is constrained by economic limitations.

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Corollary: As Meropolitan Geevarghese Coorilos mentions, Nature and Mission demonstrates a great deal of church from above, and not church from below. Whether the wine is poured into our goblet, or we dip our cup into the falls, the purpose of the church cannot be containment. It must be distribution. It must be more that just distribution -- more than distribution from the top. The move to mission and koinonia must be a move to community and mission in embodied senses that break sociological hierarchy.

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