"Religion...has tended to create people who think they have God in their pockets, people with quick, easy, glib answers... If the great mystery is indeed the Great Mystery, it will lead us into paradox, into darkness, into journeys that never cease." --Richard Rohr
"People are people through other people." --Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Sometimes I wonder why I have anything to do with the church. I imagine this may be a shocking statement, given my line of work! But I look around me at so many others of my generation who have drifted away from the church, or have never had anything to do with it in the first place, and it makes me wonder: Why am I different? Why am I here, deeply involved in the life of the church?
There are lots of answers to this question, but right down at the bottom of it all I think one reason is this--I experience God in community with other people, especially people who also desire to experience God. And yet, what I desire is a community with a particular character to it, a community:
where people can be real with one another,
where people can authentically be who they are,
where relationships and people are more important than rigid rules or strict doctrine,
where there is mutual care and encouragement,
where God's grace is palpable,
that supports those who are earnestly striving to be faithful to the way of Jesus.
At it's best, the church is all of the above and so much more. And because I have at times experienced this kind of community through the church, and because I feel called to help the church be this kind of community, I am a "churchy" guy.
This YouTube video, produced for Back to Church Sunday, prompted the above reflections and in a very simple, but powerful way, reminds me of some of the reasons why I am involved in the church (some of you may have already seen this on my Facebook wall):
A community of people where it's OK to not be OK, where God's grace abounds, where forgiveness is experienced, where doubts and questions are welcome, where people can be who they are (not who the world expects them to be)--this is what I desire in a church. And, with God's help, striving to foster this kind of community of faith is a big part of what being a pastor is all about for me.
Wherever you are in this world, my hope for you is that you find a community of faithful people who receives you as you are and invites you to join them in a journey of relationship with God.
Blessings on you,