Do you have any family members, friends, or coworkers who have negative opinions of the Church? It may be relatively benign: “I’m spiritual not religious.”
Or it may be more strongly stated: “The Church is filled with hypocrites.”
And then there are those who have had significant, challenging experiences in a particular church and as such have sworn off Church entirely.
This last weekend, I was once again blessed to be a part of the AwakeningSoul gathering. This year our theme was Sacred Revolution and our presenters were John Dominic Crossan and Diana Butler Bass. Both began by deconstructing the traditional patriarchal hierarchical understanding of the Church, then moved to reconstruction of a new paradigm for the Church. They concluded with presenting possibilities for how the Church will evolve and emerge. It was a great opportunity for me to reflect on our faith communities and how they are perceived or misperceived.
John O’Donahue writes in one of my favorite prayers:
“May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage. May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency. May you know the urgency with which the Eternal longs for you.”
Both the Church and individuals have ‘ghost-structures of old damage.’ And yet, in my experience, the vast majority of those same individuals still long for the Eternal.
It is clear that the Church needs to be committed to creating a healthy space where all of God’s children feel welcome, safe and nurtured – striving to be a part of creating the Beloved Community.