I am not going to quote the literature, nor am I going to link to a bunch of sources on the internet. I know it’s my want, but I’m sensing a rant and it’s informed by a context that is not one new to our United Church of Canada, it’s information we have heard, with which we have wrestled and – admittedly – I wonder if we have ears to hear.
Whoever they are, they’re most likely not worshipping with us on Sundays, some of them might make use of our various community ministries, might attend a group that is hosted or subsidised by one of our local congregations throughout Canada and there is most often a definite binary as to who they often say we are and who we believe we are.
We know ourselves to be a people who wrestle to be comfortable with the Other, we long to live into being an Intercultural Church, we pray we can see past the phobias and stereotypes with which we have been indoctrinated, in order to help people awaken to the Gift of the Light that they are! And each one of those clauses contains a challenge to how the Christian – large ‘C’ – church is seen by a secular and distrustful culture that sees religion – our faith in particular – as anything but welcoming, loving, patient or accepting.
I recently heard Slash from one of my favourite growing-up-years bands – Guns & Roses – basically reiterate the danger of religious organisations that fit better in his most recent horror movie than in a story of redemption, resurrection or Grace. Christianity wears the clothes of intolerance, genocide, and violence in a way that would and should make us cringe (and many of those challenges – if we’re honest with ourselves – are not inappropriate). Too often – however, I wonder if we are more akin to the ostrich who was mothered by Foghorn Leghorn. When we hear that which makes us uncomfortable or frightens us … into the sand goes our head.
I really do not mean this rant to be judgemental – hey, I’m living the gift and blessing of being able to have my faith and vocation intertwine. I genuinely believe we need to hear this reality, in order to change the story. If we do not hear, accept or recognise who they say we are, how can we expect to model an alternative and subversive challenge to share who we know we are?
Answers, well I may have way more questions, but I do know that until we start to really hold up the question – like a Rubik’s cube puzzle – we’ll still find our ears full of sand. And that – friends, Sisters and Brothers – makes me sad because we’ve got a lot of awesome stuff to share that I know has allowed me to shine and will certainly do the same thing for others … after all the Good News has been transforming lives for over 2000 years, no need to think it’s going to stop now, even if in spite of ourselves …