Over the past few months, as I’ve had time to recover from our pastorless state and have removed myself from the board at Ecclesiax, I continued to find church to be a somewhat empty experience on more Sundays that I’d care to admit. It was partly that I was so used to church being a place of stress and business, and feeling responsible for everything that happened there, and I needed time to come down from those associations. There was another part, though – I’m going through another period of examining and deconstructing my faith, and the conclusions I am coming to make me wonder why I am there.
Throughout the fall, I’ve had the nagging feeling that, while church means something to me, it is not what it means to everyone else. If I am honest, I don’t really believe that the point of Jesus is that he died to remove our sins and bridge the gap between us and God. But I am still there, calling myself a Christian – so what is the point of Jesus? Because if there is no point, I might as well stay home on Sunday mornings and read the paper (and sometimes I do).
This past Sunday, I remembered why I was there. One of our members was giving the sermon, and he preached the social gospel. I’ve had a similar experience, when my faith was teetering on the edge, and an uninspiring looking Bible study book full of liberation theology was put into my hand. It was a similar jolt of recognition this Sunday, while I was sitting in the back corner knitting. Jesus is an example of an inverted social order in which the last will be first, and his message is about experiencing and serving God by recognizing the dignity and worth in every single person in the world. That is a message I understand, and being in a community of people who want to act it out in their lives is a reason to be there.