Christianity, Recovery, Relationships, Spirituality

Easter

I haven’t been able to post “Thoughts” for the last few days. There were doctor appointments (which are more frequent these days), a roofing crew that scattered thoughts with every bang of the hammer (thank you for the great job, guys!), and the constant cleaning that comes with a couple of days of rain and three dogs (mopping should be once a week and not ten times a day…). So, my thoughts have been a bit scattered…

Yesterday was Easter Sunday. Margaret and I slept in this morning. The three days prior were extremely busy, and we had to recover. Late nights are better left to the younger folks. Anyway, we didn’t make church services this morning. I’m sure church buildings were full today. I appreciate that attendance for Easter services far exceeds any other Sunday. I guess second place goes to Christmas. I suppose two days a year is enough to cover one’s bases, ease guilty consciences, and carry on like before. Sometimes I hate my cynicism. I’m so glad you all taught me to see it for what it is…

I go back and forth about the whole organized religion thing. Sometimes I run away from it; sometimes I run toward it. I still consider myself a member of the church I attend although I rarely go in person. I like the online community now that my friend Rusty is the administrator for their online services. Plus, there are people there from around the country. It’s somewhat more diverse than our local congregation.

I know large churches do many good things for others. To their credit, the congregation of which I’m a member helps hundreds of people, many of them my neighbors, in a myriad of ways. They helped me through some rough times when I had health issues that limited my ability to work. I formed some great relationships there. I’m a firm believer in Jesus’ observation, “You’ll know who they are by the fruits they bear”.

I also know that the same church takes in millions (that right – 6 zeroes – I guess they qualify as a “mega-church”). While there’s some degree of transparency in their budget (which can’t be said among the bulk of “Mega-churches”), the reality is that they’re a business first and foremost, even though they strive to “make disciples”. Becoming “seeker-friendly” (I hate buzz-words) means increased tithing and donations. I would be foolish to think differently. The mission statement often takes second place to preservation of the institution. It seems an issue all organizations, churches and non-profits (faith-based or not) face. Sometimes the purpose gets muddied. They are human after all.

Still, I can only imagine what it’d be like if people really believed what Jesus said. Show me how you act, and I’ll tell you what you believe. My Dad used to say it was “a lot harder to walk the walk and not just talk the talk”. I get it. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to write-off things like “loving your enemies” and “turning the other cheek” to some promise of an after-life that can’t possibly work here and now.

When I first got into recovery I used to hear things like, “You can’t adapt your recovery program to your life; you have to adapt your life to recovery”. It was another way of saying “you can’t put “new wine into old wineskins”. If you do the wineskins burst; just like “you can’t graft a new idea into a closed mind”. Some of you know what I mean. The old ways haven’t worked…

So, I’ve discovered that my old ways of thinking don’t work for me anymore. What made sense before doesn’t; and what made absolutely no sense in the beginning has brought about incredible results. I have a new way to see the world I live in. That’s good news to me. I think it’s good news for everyone. We’re all in desperate need of “good news”; especially these days.

I often think of the tagline for “Red Letter Christians”, an organization started by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo, “What if Jesus really meant what he said”. I can only imagine how differently we’d relate to one another. I can only imagine what the absence of fear would be like. I can only imagine how people would see the “Good News”; the idea that we’re a part of God’s dream for the world. I can only imagine people seeing Jesus’ followers living truly happy, joyous, and free; taking care of each other and the creation around them. I can only imagine a place where people are valued over things, where justice is combined with mercy, and the grace one receives is freely shared with everyone else.

I imagine these things and then I realize how much further down the path I wish I were. The real blessing is knowing I’m not alone on the path. I’ve been blessed by the relationships I have with other disciples on the way. Sadly, I’ve met most of them in places outside church buildings. They’re just folks like me who believe in a nonsensical way of living life. They do things like forming intentional communities to live out the “Good News” among people left behind in a world of ego, power, and rampant consumerism. They do things like building a garden in the midst of urban blight, inviting their neighbors to feast together and share in their joy. They do things like loving God and loving their neighbor; an everyone’s their neighbor. They choose to live as disciples, as living students of the risen Jesus, and what was once common sense has become “uncommon sense”.

Today is Easter, resurrection Sunday. I’m kind of glad I wasn’t at church this morning, but on the porch instead. There’s a holiness here I’ve been blessed to experience and I get to go on with the day refreshed, knowing that everything is new…

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