Minister’s Reflection, February, 2014
Rev. Rod Debs, pastor
A colleague (Rev. Eva Cameron) wrote about a blog by Seth Adam Smith when he had cold feet before getting married:
“My dad giving his response to my concerns … with a knowing smile said, ‘Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy; you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.’”
Perhaps, religious community is not for us either. What a radical notion!
Some of us do not actively participate in religious community because it does not serve our interests. Why go if church doesn’t make me happy? Why go if the people don’t do what I want? Why support a Religious Exploration program for children when I don’t have children? Why go if the religious services aren’t intellectual enough or spiritual enough or social activist enough for my taste?
It does seem true that many people have decided, “Church isn’t for me.” However it also seems true that others participate actively in religious community for the very same reason: “ Religious community is not for me!”
Religious community is for the children we nurture to healthy behavior and healthy values. Religious community is for those among us who need respite as care-givers and companionship in aging. It’s for those who suffer accidents and illness, loss of jobs and loved-ones. Religious community is for those who are lonely and for those struggling in their relationships. Religious community is for those with special needs and for those with special gifts.
Religious community is for small group relationships and personal connections others don’t have without us. Religious community is for spiritual growth in committee collaboration and problem-solving. Religious community is for mobilizing social change in the world. It’s for the hungry, the homeless, the abused for whom we join hands to help get back on their feet. Religious community is for bringing smiles to others’ faces. Religious community is for inspiring the next generation to greatness, to greater wholeness.
Religious community is not for you or for me. Religious community is for the whole world, doing what we can do together to make it better.