6.07.2012

Nothing is Sacred in the Church Because Everything is Sacred in the Church

One of the underrated ways in which my church is diverse is in the expected faith traditions of its congregants.  That is to say, people come from lots of different upbringings and therefore have lots of different expectations of what the church should do over the course of a year.  Not growing up in the church, I continue to be astounded by the abundance of holidays that have some deep meaning to some sub-group within our congregation.  Unfortunately, with that diversity comes an expectation that all of those events and practices will be given their due weight, which can make it hard for us to focus when focus is called for.

Another consequence of not growing up in the church is not holding anything sacred.  So it's easier for me to say that we should stop doing something or take a break from doing something or do something a completely different way than before.  For someone for whom that thing is the most important thing about their spirituality, it's much harder to let that thing go or to be told it is expendable enough that it will be dropped in the coming year. And yet, at the risk of saying something that is easier for me than others to say, pruning is an important discipline for a church. 

While it never feels good to ruffle someone's feathers, it is perhaps a sign that we are on the right track.  For Jesus had His share of feather-ruffling.  He was, after all, both the fulfillment of long-held traditions as well as a representative of a new thing being done among God's people.  Those who ultimately followed Him tended to fall into one of three categories: (1) desperately hurting enough that His healing trumped all, (2) not as tied to the old ways of doing religion, or (3) soft-hearted enough to see His new ways as actually the actualization of old ways. 

We have a lot of (1) in our midst at my church.  And I am among many who are (2).  Let's hope that those who can be (3) will be (3), which is to say that they are willing to give God room to show them how their long-held traditions are less important in their literal practice than the broader messages and disciplines that they are intended to represent.  If we are willing to let go of what we think is sacred in the church, we might just experience the true sacredness of the church. 




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