I've been thinking a lot about yesterday's church service. In talking with a few people, I need to clarify some thoughts and expand on them.
I don't believe that we can have the Easter Jesus without the Stone Jesus. They go hand in hand. There's the point...they go hand in hand! Grace, forgiveness, mercy, redemption, eternal life come from the stone cold Jesus and the Easter Jesus. We need to hear about the Jesus who died only to rise again and show us what grace looks like. We need to talk about our sinfulness and need for redemption as well as how to receive the redemption. We need both. What I heard the speaker say yesterday, and what echoed in my heart, was the need for the church universal to remember that the story didn't end with a grave. It hasn't ended yet. Jesus is still working in this world. There is more to come, the story needs to continue, to grow, to take hold in new hearts and receive life again.
I'm a church chick. It's in my bones. I can't get away from church (Martha knew this already). I feel empty when I am not a part of a church. I love to hear a group of people singing in harmony to their favorite hymn or praise song, to hear the Scriptures read and expanded upon, to listen to someone pour out their heart in prayer as they lead the congregation, to sit in the quiet of a Sanctuary filled with people and be in the presence of the Body of Christ, to take the bread into my hands and dip it into the cup and receive forgiveness and grace. I love church. I'm not the liturgy kind of person, I have a hard time with the stand up, sit down, say these words when told to, kind of thing partly because I just say the words and they lose meaning after while, which bugs me. All in all I love church.
I love church too much to want it to stay just the way I love it. Which is part of the fired up, challenged, mixed up, frustrated, selfish, torn thoughts that I'm having about church these days. I want the next generation to love church as well and for them that means something different than what I have come to love. My idea of church is not the same idea as my grandmother's...okay, my grandma O's idea of church in her day. Church has changed and it will continue to change. I have been the one and will be the one to fight some of the changes but that doesn't mean that change won't happen. Change needs to happen.
In College I remember learning about the process of growing up, how children begin the process of individuation from their parents. In semi-Seminary I remember hearing about how that process of individuation was taking longer and longer and wasn't fully completed for many until the mid-20's. Part of that process for the young adult was taking the ideals and morals passed down from parent to child, weeding through them and making them their own. This idea became the center piece of my ministry. My job wasn't to tell a young person what to believe, my job was to help them find their way to belief and give them tools to make faith their own. Some have walked away from faith, others have drawn closer but all of them needed the opportunity to make their faith their own...all of them.
It's similar to what I see needing to happen in the church. Keeping traditions for just traditions sake doesn't make something important. Just like Christmas isn't important just because of a date on the calendar. What is important is the meaning behind the tradition for the person keeping the tradition. (I think I just confused myself.) All this to say, in my opinion, for the church to grow and continue to have an impact in the world, we need to let go and allow it to change. How that happens, I have no idea. I'm just thinking out loud. What I do know is it's not been an easy process to this point and it has the potential to get tougher. I just love church too much to want to keep it all to myself.