Monday, October 24, 2011
We Need More Than Ourselves
I spent most of my Sundays growing up as a kid being dragged to some kind of charismatic church; tent meeting or guest-preacher service. Mostly I was bored. Often I would sleep under the seats. Sometimes I’d smuggle in Matchbox cars and drive them along the curvey armrests of the pews. And other times I would hear.
Even as a child, I remember hearing the beautiful music that was elevated by all the voices singing together. In particular, there was a little old Italian woman who always sat behind me. She sang a third of the words in English, a third in Italian and a third in other tongues. She didn’t have a great sounding voice as I recall, but she did sing with all her heart. That has always lingered with me.
I would also hear some of the words. Words like, “Be kind to one another…” or “Forgive as you’ve been forgiven…” or “Love others as you love yourself…” but I mostly remember hearing the words, “Fear not…” Those are important words for any and every child to hear – that they shouldn’t fear. That has always lingered with me as well.
I would also hear tears. People would cry over their lost loved ones; past mistakes; personal problems or other maladies of the heart, mind and spirit. Others nearby would hug them and pray quietly. Words of encouragement and hope were shared as well as real offers to help. I would hear tears and that lingers with me still.
So much so, that my wife and I drag our daughters to church every Sunday with their pockets filled with Polly Pockets and her rubberized wardrobe. I know that sometimes they're bored. Sometimes they whine, sometimes they complain, but other times – they hear. I know they hear, because they ask the same questions I used to ask my parents driving home from church.
And the beauty of faith is that it offers real hope for the hardest questions we face in life - questions of living, loving and dying. Even though Karl Marx called religion the “opiate of the masses” it’s a better “drug” than the self-medicated, secularized state of numbness that seems to be leeching across our culture and country.
In pursuit of our downloadable digital distractions; our iPhone/iPad/iPod isolation; our virtual viral vexations – we are so very disconnected from what truly matters, and that’s each other.
And that’s why church matters – it offers community, contact and comfort in a world that’s becoming increasingly devoid of such novelties. I believe that church is one of the few places where we can go to find truth and support that meets our deepest needs. Because don’t we ALL need something more than just ourselves?