The Rev. Janice Ford, Rector
The Church of the Reconciliation (Episcopal)
It is no secret that organized Christian religions have become increasingly unpopular over the past fifteen to twenty years. The once brand-loyal mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, and other Christian denominations are turning away from traditional expressions of worship and the institutional doctrines and dogma that undergird them. Volumes have been written about this trend, and my effort here is not to try and find the cause and effect of this trend in five hundred words or less. Rather, my goal is to provide some sense of hope and grounding in the understanding that God will not be defeated in spite of our efforts to deconstruct traditional religious paradigms.
This hope and grounding lives in five clear elements of Christian faith. First, God is eternal. God was, is, and always will be. Second, God is good. Third, God created human beings (and all of creation) out of love, and seeks to be in relationship with us. Fourth, God speaks to us through the writings of the Hebrew and New Testaments which were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Last, the path to eternal life has been made possible for us by the death and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. It is these five elements that form the basis of all Christian life and worship, regardless of denomination.
A sad commentary on the nature of human beings is to say that we are never satisfied. Living in and through these five elements of faith should be enough for us. Unpacking and integrating them into our daily lives should keep us fairly busy. Somehow, though, we (and by we, I mean the Church) have managed to turn these five elements of Christianity into something that is, at times, unrecognizable and, dare I say, irrelevant to most Christians. In spite of us, however, I believe that Christianity as a religion will survive, but suffice it to say that the Church has an enormous chore ahead to undo the damage that has been done.
I said at the outset that this would be a commentary on hope and grounding that God will not be defeated. It is precisely because of those five elements of Christian faith that this is so. God is God, and we are not. Christianity will survive if God wills it, and truthfully, we have little to say in the matter. The Church has a great deal of work to do to catch up with God’s will, and in the meantime, we live on in the blessed assurance that God is eternal; God is good; God created us out of love and seeks to be in relationship with us; God speaks to us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Scripture; and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has made eternal life possible for us.
Christians should not abandon the worship and church-life of their parents, or perhaps their own childhoods. That accomplishes nothing. Rather, we need to find ways to bring back into focus the five elements of Christian faith that I believe God wants us to live in and through. God will not be defeated, and neither should our life with God. We need to speak loudly and clearly for what we know we need in our churches in order to live the life God is calling us to. As a priest of the Episcopal Church, I can guarantee you I’m listening, so speak up, my friends.
- Wednesday, 13 June 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Religion