24 July 2009

Going to Church

I tell my folks that you should not come to church to have a religious experience, but to learn how to have a religious experience. If you ask me (go ahead ask me) the contemporary mega church is a religious entertainment experience - prepared, polished, and indistinguishable ultimately from a television show. You may congratulate them on their business acumen, but I cannot help but ask - is that what Jesus would do? Entertain?

Ultimately, I am asking what church is for, and as my congregation (and those where I guest preach know too well) a church (a liberal one at least) should free the mind, grow the soul, and change the world. Maybe you can do that with glossy and glitzy programs on Sunday, but liberated minds and growing souls know that life itself is religious and that the other 167 hours of the week are as important as the one spent in church on Sunday.

That's why I think church should help us live the other hours as thoroughly as possible. Church should not be about church at all.

For example, this evening, I went out to pluck some weeds from the vegetable patch. This is my first such garden, and I am bad at it when it comes to maximizing the crop. But I am not in it for major supplies of tomatoes and beans and zuccini. This year I just want to see how it all happens. I want to learn.

And I am thrilled. People spend so much time asking for miracles that they miss the stunning act of little seeds becoming sprawling plants that climb and turn and turn wonderful colors and more. Nothing I ever do in church, nothing I ever see in church, equals a vegetable patch for inspiration and intrigue and plain old interest. Mind you, I am sure life is just chemistry with attitude, but what an attitude!

But that does not mean church is worthless any more than it is central. Had I not spent time exercising the mind, flexing the soul, doing the moral heavy lifting on Sundays I would likely not notice, ponder, and savor what my garden has to offer.

That's my lesson today, pilgrims, go to church the way you go to the gym. Work out, stretch, push a little harder, so that when you are out there in the world you can be a little freer, live a little fuller, and make a difference.

Sermon over. Feel free to hum a hymn as you click on to your next site...

1 comment:

Revwilly said...

Fred,
What you say about mega-churches can be true, must we generalize?


Entertain... can mean to keep or capture attention. We all want to do that and do things to do that. Yep, Jesus entertained, but it was not mindless diversion. I don't think most mega-churches are into mindless diversion. Some might be, but that can be true of any sized church.

I tell the people who make up the church which I pastor, that the church is not a building or place, it is the people. We gather on Sundays to worship and then leave to go be the church in the world. Church is 24/7.

I'd love to converse with you sometime about the evangelical church. I'm sure I could learn some things from you and perhaps you from me.

Will