This video went viral this week and I’ve been asked by the ELCA office for my response (to be posted on their website.)
Here it is: I totally get it. I hate the way in which the church is more of a behavior modification program and a purity system than a place where we hear the truth of who God is and the truth of who we are because of who God is.
I also resent the way in which the term “Christian” has become synonomous with a conservative social agenda and exclusion of the weak the poor and the outcast (namely the people Jesus chose to hang out with)
I too reject religion that does little more than prop up an identity of sanctification and righteousness based in the successful adoption a particular affect, style, personality and way of speaking.
I too think that Jesus is about grace and being with those on the margins and the unbounded way in which God is always coming TO us.
I believe that religion can be beautiful. For every war it has started how many hospitals have been built? How many children found homes? How many people found community? How many non-profits established to serve the poor? How much beauty created?
There is much to confess. I confess that the Church has often done a piss-poor job of being Christ’s body. We have often been more about maintaining exclusionary practices than we have been about the transgressive beauty of the Gospel. But we are still called to be members of one another, dying for the sake of the wold. The church is still called to preach the Gospel and administer the sacraments. If we don’t do it…who is? The United Way? The Elks Club? Wall Mart? Answer: no one. That’s our job.
So…I believe in Religion AND Jesus. I believe in the Gospel. I believe in the transformative, knock you on your ass truth of what God has done in Christ. I believe that I can only know what this following Jesus thing is about when I learn it from people I would never choose out of a catalog when we all gather together as the broken and blessed Body of Christ around the Eucharistic meal. I believe that I am the problem at least as often as I am the solution. I believe in participating in sacred traditions that have a whole lot more integrity than anything I could come up with myself. I believe I need someone else to proclaim the forgiveness of sins to me because I cannot create that for myself. I believe that Jesus is truly present in the breaking of the bread and that where 2 or more are gathered he is there. That’s religion AND Jesus. May God make us worthy of it all.