Friday, May 8, 2015

Faith: The Series That Wasn't

I had this great idea for a blog series. I was going to take some elements of faith or religion or spirituality and I was going to do a series on what each of those pieces might mean to someone who is a person of faith or who is seeking faith or even who isn't a person of faith at all.

What is church? What does a pastor do? What is prayer? How do you put faith into action? Who is God anyway?

I wasn't going to be an expert - quite the opposite. Those are questions that a lot of faithful Christ followers struggle with throughout their lives. I think these are also questions that non-believers have asked themselves.

I started asking the questions on Facebook and there was some great discussion and insight.

But as I've been reading people's responses, visiting churches, talking to people about their churches, reading articles and Bible passages and listening to some CD's (loaned to me by my Catholic brother)... I had a tiny little sliver of insight.

Maybe... maybe most of it is right. Maybe we all agree more than we think we do.

God is where we need Him to be, when we need Him to be there. And He calls us to meet Him where He needs us to meet Him.

For some, that might mean that they experience the Holy Spirit when they are in the streets, serving and caring for the homeless.

For another, it happens on Sunday morning when we gather together to worship and to learn as a congregation.

God is not limited to His presence in a Catholic mass vs a Methodist liturgy vs a praise concert.

Christ meets us at the Lord's Supper whether we are receiving a Sacrament or experiencing a symbolic reminder of the sacrifice that was made for us.

The Holy Spirit is present in "old fashioned" organ music and hymns just as He is present in Christian rap music.

Some pastors are brilliant public speakers, some are gifted at teaching, some are designed to love their congregations in actionable ways, some are called to develop leaders.

Some churches are liturgical, some are free spirited, some have long and deep traditions and rituals and some are focused on introducing people to Christ in more radical ways.

Some prayers are desperate cries to Jesus in a time of personal crisis while some are long and meditative times of intense prayer on issues across the globe.

There are faiths that believe in a stripped down and basic worship space. There are others that believe that a worship space filled with oppulence and extravagance is a way of showing heaven on earth, of showing the glorious praise and love they have for God. Some believe in speaking in tongues, some believe in the transformation of the bread and wine, some believe in solemn hymns, some believe in shouts of praise, some believe in meditative silence.

There are certainly religions that twist the word of God and the spirit of God and the love of God into something ugly and hurtful. That isn't what I'm talking about.

There is part of me that thinks we need to find a church where we can serve together, grow together.

And there is a part of me that wants to experience different faiths, different rituals, differents expressions.

I see the Holy Spirit all around me. I believe God is in all of these different faith practices. I want to experience it. I want to go to Mass and I want to visit a Greek Orthodox church and I want to go on a silent prayer retreat and I want to learn more about different churches and why they do the things they do.  I want to experience Christ in the faces of those in need. I want to know what drives the passion behind a person's religious experience. I want to know the Bible better, deeper. I want to study the books that were cut from the Bible.

What is your faith experience? What is your relationship with Christ? What is your story? What are experiences that have shaped who you are and where you are?

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Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing!

I meant to comment earlier, but here it is.
First, the song I mentioned. It's an unusual genre. You might get something from it...even though it has some lyrical errors and (I'm pretty sure) some theological ones too.

What do I say church is?
When I go to The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, I participate in essentially the same order of worship that the earliest Christians did, in the actual renewal and perpetuation of the New Covenant that transcends time, in the Marriage Feast of the Lamb.

Katherine said...

I was raised to find God in nature and worship him on mountain tops and under trees and along river banks. A church was just a place for community. The thought of trying to contain God to any one particular place or ritual just doesn't sit well with me.