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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

April 9, 2010

TO BRING LOVING KINDNESS

“How Spiritual are you?” The magazine article asked.  So I sat and read about “being spiritual.”

I have noticed numerous “spiritual” articles in recent years and I think that is good. Many folks readily admit that they are “spiritual” but hesitant to say they are “religious.” (I think that we in the church have given “religion” a bad name.) This article also said that people are more willing to admit to being “spiritual” than “religious.”

Being spiritual seems to imply that no “gatekeeper” is needed…like a preacher or church ….to connect one with the spirit. People are wary of the institutional church or even the non-institutional church. Preachers are probably seen by many as having agendas rather than being spiritual advisors. We have no one to blame but ourselves, I suppose.

But, I know that within the institutional church there a large pockets of “spiritual” studies and groups. We have many within the UCC who are exploring “spirituality.” That is very good.

The article gave a cross section of spiritual writers and leaders here in America. One such writer is Barbara Brown Taylor, an Episcopalian writer and priest. She offers several roads to follow but I especially like her advice to “figure out which action or practice makes you slow down and go one level deeper than your normal daily routine.”

The Roman Catholic Priest, James Martin “sees spirituality expressed in friendships, families and workplaces – anywhere you choose to bring loving kindness to a relationship.”

The Jewish Rabbi, Jamie Korngold says that she “gave up synagogue pulpits to lead groups in Jewish spiritual experiences outdoors.”

The Minister, Priest and Rabbi claim that spirituality is not only for them but is for all. Indeed, Rabbi Korngold points out that every major faith teacher found enlightenment while outside – on a mountaintop, in the desert or under a tree. It’s universal. All are welcome to find their spiritual side and connect with God. That is what I understand from the article and what I have always believed.

I contend that when you come to a worship service in our sanctuary, you will probably find just as close a connection to that which is spiritual from the music, the crisp white calm sanctuary walls or the quiet view out the west windows to the nearby cemetery, as from the reading of the Scriptures or my sermon.

But the article did mention one other Christian preacher and writer with whom I disagree when it comes to seeking God or things spiritual. She acknowledges that we can sense God’s presence in nature and have the capacity to know God. Yet she goes on to say “But my Bible tells me we can only know God in his fullness as he reveals himself, and he reveals himself through Jesus.” 

That means my Muslim friend has no hope of connecting with the Creator God. My Jewish friends are out of luck too (and somehow the notion of telling a Jew that he or she, of all people, cannot connect with God is bizarre.) According to her definition, non-Christians are without hope of connecting with God.
 
It’s probably because of such exclusivity in Biblical interpretation that many shun organized religion today and a result is that people just say they are “spiritual” and thus avoid all gatekeepers who would exclude them.

I am a Christian. I approach the Spirit of God, through my belief in the life of Jesus. I believe that God is revealed through Jesus yet I see Jesus as but one path to the Creator. That is a result of my upbringing, and my beliefs from my studies, my life experiences and my conscious effort at finding things spiritual. But it would never occur to me that others must follow the same path as I, or that I should exclude you because you follow another path. I believe the ultimate destination is the same for men and women who earnestly seek the spiritual side of this existence and the next.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

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