. . in Pastor’s Perspective:
What follows is a letter to the editor from a recent issue of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, in a response to their article about the growing number of people who now define their religious affiliation as “None.” I think it is spot on:
OK, I get it. Clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church and its steadfast refusal to become transparent and to legally prosecute those who are clearly guilty. TV preachers always begging for money to support their lavish lifestyles. Rightwing conservative churches that have no interest in addressing the critical and controversial social justice issues of our day. There is plenty to complain about in the church today. I know that. (“Fastest growing religion is ‘None,’ ” part of the Star Tribune’s ongoing “The Unchurching of America” series, Nov. 11.)
But consider this. What do you gain by withdrawing from the Body? Nothing. Hypocrisy in the church? Of course. So why are you surprised? It is ingrained in our lives and always has been. (And please don’t tell me that you are free of hypocrisy.) Stay with your faith community and let your voice be heard.
The comment I hear most today from young people is this: “I am a spiritual person, but I have no time for organized religion.” This is nothing more than a huge cop-out. Every picture of the church in the New Testament is relational: the vine and the branches, the shepherd and the sheep, the hen and her brood, the temple of living stones, even St. Paul’s great analogy of the human body, Christ being the head. And the hand can’t say to the foot, “I have no need of you.” Every part of the body is important, and that includes you!
It is very difficult to maintain a vital and growing faith in isolation. I would argue that it’s impossible to do so for any length of time. So find a healthy congregation where people are well-fed by the word and the sacraments and then move out into a very needy world to make a difference. Better to light even one candle than to curse the darkness. Our world needs the church!
One more thought: The words “worship and work” have the same derivation. Worship is the work of God’s people. We don’t come there to be entertained, though worship should be engaging, uplifting and even challenging. We are created as a marvelous trilogy of mind, body and spirit. Here in America we do a good job of feeding the body and the mind, but I fear the spirit is very often woefully undernourished. How many of our major societal problems are related to people who are spiritually dead or dying? Being the church today is serious business. Please don’t neglect it. When you do, everyone loses. I hope to see you in church. The Rev. Paul L. Harrington, Rosemount
Good words to ponder as we celebrate the birth of Christ and look ahead toward the New Year.
Thankful to be “the Church” with you! Christmas blessings!