I want to tell you a crazy story of Flying Miracles and Kingdom Community…
This story starts in the 1600’s. A boy named Joseph was born. As he grew up people thought there was something wrong with him. He would often be angry, he could not concentrate, and he was very clumsy often breaking things. His mum could not cope with her sons apparent condition and treated him harshly, just as many others did, who mocked him for constantly spacing out. He tried to find work, and gave a number of trades a go, but could not hold a job because he simply could not do anything right.
One thing that remained was an inner desire for God. He tried to join a number of monasteries, but no one could handle this young man who was so different. Eventually he found some favour with a Franciscan Monastery where he became a servant charged with looking after horses.
This is when Josephs story began to change. Quite possibly, this is the first time he began to experience a loving community that accepted him for who he was. As a result his behaviour began to change and he settled down. He could now concentrate and complete tasks without messing up. Further, his desire for God intensified and he fell deeper in love with Jesus. He began to experience incredible ecstatic experiences. He would fall into trances for hours where God would speak to him and reveal the mysteries of heaven to him. Even the mere mention of a spiritual subject could send Joseph into another mystical experience.
The most popular (and very cool) manifestation that Joseph is known for, is for flying. Literal flying. As hard as it may be for some to believe, it has been recorded that Joseph flew over 70 times. As he experienced God he would begin to float and sometimes soar. Crowds of people would crowd around him just to see this bizarre miracle. As a result, Joseph possessed deep revelation from God that taught Him not to fear or worry, and described all the troubles of this world as nothing but the “play” battles children have with each other. Eventually the church found a new place and role for Jospeh that enabled him to spend the rest of his days concentrating on prayer and meditation.
As amazing as the flying miracles are, this story teaches us some important aspects of Kingdom Community. Here are three lessons that we can learn from the community St Joseph of Cupertino joined:
They Allowed People to Belong First. Prior to joining the monastery, Joseph was not appreciated for who he was. Instead people had their own perception of normal and Joseph didn’t fit. Kingdom communities include all people, and create a place of belonging even before they believe or behave to any sort of standard. The fist step in Josephs turn around was joining a loving community.
They Modeled a Healthy Life. The benefit of this monastery life was that the entire community spoke into every aspect of life. They would teach and model sleep, prayer, work, food, community and so forth. Joseph was now being shown and told how to make life work. Kingdom communities model healthy life. Leaders in these environments do not shy away from the truth that life can be hard, rather they invite you into their struggles and suffering so you can be included in their breakthrough and victory.
They Encouraged Personal Identity and Destiny. The longer Joseph was exposed to this community the more he began to discover who God had made him to be. The community fostered, encouraged and celebrated his uniqueness. This was the total opposite of his life outside this community. As they did this Joseph flourished. He literally took off!
I love how Joseph would fly around in church. But the greater story was how a hapless young man found a community that embraced him and all his quirkiness, modeled a healthy life, and thrust him into his destiny.