Letters to Jesus (Church, Religion, and Sacraments)-12
I’m currently reviewing some books I read in the past. Among them is Eugene Kennedy’s, The People are the Church. It stirs up, once again, a life-long concern with seminal Christianity and the institutional church.
You preached love and forgiveness and that is what the early church was about. But it didn’t take long before guidelines, laws, and guilt became items of daily trade as the church grew. Exterior appearances that could be controlled by law and guilt became de rigueur of being Christian. This promoted and perpetuated a lack of emphasis on a mature interior relationship with You. The law, exterior appearances,and guiltformed a residue that lingers in my generation.
The church today has realized, to some degree, what I’m talking about here, but as yet has not come up with a solution for the masses that is capable of counteracting 20 centuries of autocratic posturing. If our worries about Your being with Your church are allayed by Your promise to be with it till the end of time, we should, nonetheless, be worried because the real concern is – are we with You?
You are with us because You accept and forgive our flawed humanity and all it has done to fashion Your church to our own image. You love us despite our flaws and our well-intentioned (but errant) philosophies for ourselves and others. You are with us always because Your word is church. Your life is church. We muddy it up, but You remain. You are with us. Are we with You?
Somehow, in the name of growing closer to You, we have, in fact, distanced ourselves from You with our fixations upon exterior appearances and the guilt attached to not keeping them up. There have been many well-intentioned clergy and religious who have spent a lifetime perpetuating this.
Maybe soon the next milestone in the evolution of the church will turn it more toward an inward relationship with God – one going back to the love and forgiveness of an earlier day.