Sunday, December 28, 2014

1001 Worshipping Communities: yoga & and the good news of Jesus Christ

Several days ago the Sacramento Bee published an article on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s 1001 Worshiping Communities by focusing on the Presbytery of Sacramento’s share of the communities. The article, “New Worship lets the spirit move them in novel ways,” by Anita Creamer, looked in particular at A yoga class at Esparto’s Countryside Community Church, WordHouse pastored by Rev. Jeff, Richards, (they meet in various locations in downtown Sacramento,) and Eventide Community, under the leadership of Jeanie Shaw, whose members participate in relieve work in various places in the world.

These are not the only members of the P.C. (U.S.A)’s 1001 Worshiping Communities in the Sacramento Presbytery. With this posting I want to add some information to what I have already written about the 1001 Worshiping Communities, and then comment on a worshipping community that is based simply on a blessing and a yoga class.

First, some good news! Earlier I had written about a 1001 Worshipping Community that was named, “Kindred Spirit Retreats.”[1] That was simply a web site and Facebook page with information about retreats and seminars for gay men. It was not a Christian organization and some of the pictures were raunchy as were some of the connections. Whether the owners of the retreat site chose to leave or the leaders of the 1001 Worshipping Communities decided it was not an appropriate “worshipping community” I do not know, but it is gone. I am thankful.

Next I want to mention that there are some of the new communities formed to minister to ethnic communities. And many of these are centered in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are not only interested in helping the needy in a material manner but in proclaiming the gospel. That is another blessing to bring rejoicing.

And then there is the worshipping community meeting in the Esparto church. The yoga class is led by Candice Schaer who is both a masseuse and a yoga teacher. On her web site she states that she not only has a BS in plant Science from the University of Davis, but has also been trained by the Body Mind College in San Digeo, which has closed, and by Donna Eden’s Energy Medicine Institute in Ashland, Oregon.

Doing some reading at the Energy Medicine site one finds constant New Age and Eastern terminology. It is mostly about so called energy flows in the body and uses such eastern terms as chakras and occultic terms like auras. In one paper about the different energies an aura is explained this way:

“Your aura is a multi-layered shell of energy that emanates from your body and interacts with the energies of your environment. It is itself a protective atmosphere that surrounds you, filtering out many of the energies you encounter and drawing in others that you need. Like a space suit, your aura protects you from harmful energies. Like a radio antenna, it brings in energies with which it resonates. The aura is a conduit, a two-way antenna that brings in energy from the environment to your chakras and that sends energy from your chakras outward. When you feel happy, attractive, and spirited, your aura may fill an entire room.”

Needless to say this is not the kind of training that helps one introduce another to Jesus Christ. And while Creamer does not describe the “blessing” that is said with the children or the adults there are several yoga blessings that have nothing in particular to do with the biblical Lord.

The whole idea that somehow these classes minus the word of God will help to form a Christian worshipping community are more than troubling. Classical yoga arose out of Hinduism and is very religious; a more western version has been shaped by the New Age Movement. Sometimes yoga minus its religious implications is simply used for exercise, but a teacher trained in Eastern and New Age methods can only lead others to a vague spiritual awareness not to the Savior who shed his blood for the sinner.

Good works, special classes, simple friendship, long talks in a home or even a pub, are all bonuses in leading someone to Jesus. But the Bible is very clear that without faithful proclamation of the good news whether in sermon, teaching or friendly discussion, the work of birthing new believers and growing disciples will not be done.

[1] See Kindred Spirits Retreats-1001 Worshiping Community- " have mercy on some" 


Jodie said...
This comment has been removed by the author. said...

I was on the AC that approved the Yoga class at Esparto and I (and others) questioned whether it would lead to Christ. In the end, I voted for it because it would provide an exercise space and lessons for the seniors in Esparto in a community where there are few public meeting rooms and because it would provide some income for a struggling Esparto community church. Only time will tell whether it will do more good than harm. Now that Pam Anderson is no longer pastor at Esparto, please pray for new life for the church there. Thanks for all your faithful witness. Vern

Viola Larson said...

Thanks for telling me that Vern. I will pray for Esparto Community Church.