A national speaker and writer, Lillian Daniel has served as the Senior Minister of
the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, of Glen Ellyn since 2004.
This is a great, short piece which really says a lot. From the Huffington Post. From a woman pastor in a mainline congregation. I know, I know…the irony here is not lost on me.
I was just talking with Marci the other night about how I was a lone-wolf Christian for many years. Not having been raised in the church as she was, I found that until quite recently, I was a self-feeder. One thing about sheep is they need a Shepherd. Not that there aren’t shut-ins and those who have not yet found a good church, but God’s best plan is still and will always be the local church – a group of people who might only have one thing in common – a common Shepherd. Below is Article 28 from the Belgic Confession of Faith regarding this:
The Obligations of Church Members
And to preserve this unity more effectively, it is the duty of all believers, according to God’s Word, to separate themselves from those who do not belong to the church, in order to join this assembly wherever God has established it, even if civil authorities and royal decrees forbid and death and physical punishment result.
And so, all who withdraw from the church or do not join it act contrary to God’s ordinance.
Spiritual but not religious? Please stop boring me.
On airplanes, I dread the conversation with the person who finds out I am a minister and wants to use the flight time to explain to me that he is “spiritual but not religious.” Such a person will always share this as if it is some kind of daring insight, unique to him, bold in its rebellion against the religious status quo.
Next thing you know, he’s telling me that he finds God in the sunsets. These people always find God in the sunsets. And in walks on the beach. Sometimes I think these people never leave the beach or the mountains, what with all the communing with God they do on hilltops, hiking trails and … did I mention the beach at sunset yet?
Like people who go to church don’t see God in the sunset! Like we are these monastic little hermits who never leave the church building. How lucky we are to have these geniuses inform us that God is in nature. As if we don’t hear that in the psalms, the creation stories and throughout our deep tradition.
Being privately spiritual but not religious just doesn’t interest me. There is nothing challenging about having deep thoughts all by oneself. What is interesting is doing this work in community, where other people might call you on stuff, or heaven forbid, disagree with you. Where life with God gets rich and provocative is when you dig deeply into a tradition that you did not invent all for yourself.
Thank you for sharing, spiritual-but-not-religious sunset person. You are now comfortably in the norm for self-centered American culture, right smack in the bland majority of people who find ancient religions dull but find themselves uniquely fascinating. Can I switch seats now and sit next to someone who has been shaped by a mighty cloud of witnesses instead? Can I spend my time talking to someone brave enough to encounter God in a real human community? Because when this flight gets choppy, that’s who I want by my side, holding my hand, saying a prayer and simply putting up with me, just like we try to do in church.
There are limits to self-made religion.