Yesterday, there was a meeting at church. Our church needs to change. Or die. Those are the choices. So there are people who want big change, some who want a little change, some who think it's time to let it go. I'm in the first category. Surprised? :)
The Christian church was born out of death and resurrection. If the apostles had said, "Oh well, that was fun while it lasted" where would we be now? But they took Jesus's message to go forth and heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the poor and visit the imprisoned, and they went with it. I'm rather sure they changed things up as they went along. We've been doing church one way for too many years, and it's not working any more. So instead of clinging to it, I want let go and rebuild. Not in the same way. Not in the same buildings. Not in the same anything, really.
My vision of the church in the coming years is a church of service to the community. Social justice in God's name. No one who joins has to believe. There can be so old fashioned worship services for those who need them, but no one need feel compelled to attend. Bible study for those who love the scripture. And all are welcome, to come serve the community or just be part of it. Soup kitchens, community centers, coffee shops that offer coffee by donation and a place to sit and chat with people, laundromats that let homeless people do their laundry for free. I picture storefront churches where people can come in, buy a book, chat with the minister about life, the universe and everything (42), where there's a cup of tea and a quiet room to get away from it all. Warm beds at night. Non-profit daycares and medical clinics.
And the name Jesus or God never needs to be uttered once, by anyone working at any of them. Because God will be there. They will know we are Christians by our love. Not our cramming of our theology down their throats. Because that's what's happened too much. We've misused God so badly that the mere mention of Jesus or God or even "holy" sends people running. And it doesn't have to be that way. The mere act of service can be our worship.
God's message to Christians to go and spread the Good News has been so badly perverted. We must stop with the message of intolerance for people who don't believe. We must stop talking about sin and Satan and Hell. We must stop doing our good works in order to try to convert anyone. In fact, we must stop trying to convert people. Because we're doing it wrong. If we want people to hear God's word through us, we have to stop being such assholes all the fucking time. We have to start being awesome, wonderful, beautiful, tolerant, accepting, generous, kind and compassionate people just for the sake of being all those things. Not because we're afraid of God. Not because we're afraid of hell. But because we love God and we love our fellow humans. Remember, that is exactly what Jesus said were the commandments in a nutshell. Love God. Love each other.
It's advent and yesterday was the day we lit the joy candle. Let this be the advent where a new Christianity is born. Let's rejoice in it. Let's have joy in our days, so that we're happy, joyous people. And when people see that and want that, we can teach them to love and be loved too. If they don't see it or don't want it, that's okay too. Because we'll still be happy.