Boldness Before God
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action....God is greater than our hearts... Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God - I John 3
Sometimes, it seems to me that "organized" religion tends to be either runaway belligerent or heartbreakingly timid. People of faith may well manage not to occupy either of these polar opposite places, but the institutions we create in God's name often succumb either to a ferocious "We're better than the others" way of thinking, or a "We don't want to offend anyone - especially the powerful, so we really won't say anything worthy of deep contemplation" mindset.
No wonder churches are struggling. Most people understand that we are all equally children of God; none of us having a special claim on a stingily doled out blessing from a miser God. And most people aren't very interested in a steady diet of carefully strained nothingness that tries to pass for faith. There are too many hard questions - too many broken places in our hearts and in Creation - to settle for simplistic, all-wrapped-up-with-a-bow platitudes masquerading as prayers.
The early followers of Jesus - who did not call themselves Christians, but rather followers of "The Way" - did not have it easy. If they were to show up among us today, they would likely say, "Good grief, people. Get up out of your comfy pews and take some risks! There's a whole universe of humanity in Creation that is waiting for the Good News." (Actually, most pews aren't that comfy, but you know what I mean.)
The Christian faith was born in the heart of Judaism. Its most compelling teachings are rooted in the ancient Hebrew passion for social justice, care for the dislocated and disenfranchised, and loving stewardship of God's Creation. Jesus drew with a highlighting pen through just those ancient lessons of Hebrew Scripture. He was slain because he celebrated the everyday over the grand and glorious. He ate at the diner, or out on the side of the road; he passed up on the Ritz and the ornate banquet hall. He danced with the peasants, not with the fancy-pants. He didn't file his fingernails carefully; he wore them down in the dirt.
How did we forget this? More important, how do we remember it? How do we reclaim our "boldness before God?"
Good question. Let's try to answer it - together. Some of us may have swallowed the pabulum for a long time and convinced ourselves that it satisfies. Others of us may have walked away from the boring, self-righteous table, seeking that which truly sustains. With a little good fortune and some spiritual persistence, some of us may have found faith community that is both comforting and challenging. But finally, none of us are content with the way Creation has groaned under the weight of our numbness or our desertion of its beauties, its eternal truths, and its challenges.
So we gather to remember, to renew, to confess, and to reclaim God's boldness. God took a vast risk in creating humankind, with its skills and energy and brilliance - all mixed in with its frailties and self-focus. We worship as the beginning act of demonstrating that we want this great risk God has taken to bear sacred fruit. How sweet it shall be when we get this right, and when the table, which is built to include us all, truly satisfies everyone there gathered.
Sabbath blessings; we worship at 10 AM.