It’s NOT about correct BELIEF . . .

embracing-an-adult-faithMarcus Borg says, “Being Christian is not very much about believing in the sense of believing the right things, even though the notion that it is about believing a set of teachings or doctrines is widespread. That is a relatively recent distortion of Christianity.”

Read more about “What IS a Christian.

Borg says that Christianity is not about “right beliefs.” It is about a change of heart. 

What do YOU think it means to be Christian?

What do YOU think makes a person a Christian?

I invite your comments.

The Chicken or the Egg?

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“What came first—your understanding of music theory or your love of music?

Is it necessary to master the technical aspects of how music works before we realize how much we love singing in the shower or that we can’t get a certain melody out of our head?

We seldom fully understand a subject before our passion ignites—whether it’s music, sports or something else we love.

Thank God, the same is true of our Faith. God is beyond our human understanding—but, we don’t have to understand all the theories and theologies about God before we experience the benefit of our faith. Intellectual comprehension is not a prerequisite to a rich spiritual life.

If you want to experience music, that deep-down-in-the-core-of-your-being music—
then just start singing.

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If you want to experience the unfathomable love and forgiveness that is God—well, your community of faith is a very good place to let that experience grow.

Our relationship with God does not rely on anything but God–and God is more than willing to connect with us. God is present, always, everywhere and certainly at your place of worship on Sunday morning.

Don’t miss out.

 

The Pursuit of Indebtedness

“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. . .”
They are words that capture the very essence of what it means to be an American.

Americans are so accustomed to financing our “Pursuit of Happiness” that we may not recognize how debt snatches that happiness right out of our hands.

Debt stress—as they call it—takes a dramatic toll on our mental, physical and spiritual well-being, and it plays havoc with our relationships.

Debt may well be the number one killer in America today.

Here is a list of 5 ways to reduce debt stress (from Reader’s Digest, of all places)

  1. Give money the right value in your life.
  2. Recognize credit creates a false sense of freedom.
  3. Build your “self-control muscle.”
  4. Don’t shop when you feel down.
  5. Beware of the “what the hell” effect (the tendency to buy more to feel better about being in debt.)

Remember, in many ways–whoever owns our debt, owns us.

(This post was inspired by the Old Testament prophet Amos–Chapter 8.)

Was the Zimmerman Jury CORRECT ?

justiceTruth is, I don’t know how to assess the Zimmerman trial verdict.

I have to think that jury did its best regarding the judgement. I can only imagine how difficult it was–but my confidence in the jury’s effort and intention does not make it any clearer to me whether justice prevailed or not.

I know our legal system is flawed – what human system is not?

I know that prejudice and racism exist, and that we all have to struggle to rise above our harmful biases every day.

I know that justice, fairness and love do NOT always win – in this life.

But, still, I do NOT know how to judge the outcome of this trial.

That Travon Martin was killed is a tragedy. That much I know! I continue to pray for everyone involved – which includes our entire country.

Praying-HandsAs the courts of this land continue to sort through this matter, I pray five things:
1 . . . that justice will prevail, even if I don’t recognize it,
2 . . . that the injured parties on both sides will find healing,
3 . . . that those who have lied will repent and know God’s forgiveness. (No doubt there have been damaging lies, though I may not know who/what.)
4 . . . that each of us will “forgive those who trespass against us.”
5 . . . that we, as a nation, will figure out how to stop killing each other.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Amen.

Prayer in School . . .

Dear Middle-School-Aged Parishioner,

I’m sending you this brief note to give you my opinion on “prayer in school,” as you asked on Sunday.

You know that I value prayer. I also value religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

I’m not an expert on law, but it is my understanding that prayer has not been banned from public schools. What is forbidden in schools is organized prayer, led, sponsored, encouraged or prescribed by the school (and/or teachers and staff in school).

Pray-text-message-with-little-kids-climbing-over-the-letters-postYou and I, as students in any school in America, are free to pray and read religious texts, as long as we do not disturb other students. We are free to do so before, during and after school hours. At least, that’s how I understand the law today.

Since Jesus did virtually all of his praying in private, and he encouraged others to do the same, I see no conflict between the existing laws and the practice of my/your faith.

I actually believe that there is no way to legislate or regulate prayer out of the schools or anywhere else. Life is prayer. God hears the prayer of my life and yours without our even being aware of it or our uttering a single word.

Yes, we often verbalize our thoughts to God in prayer – even, sometimes, making the mistake of treating God like Santa Claus: “God please do this, or give me that, or don’t allow that other thing.”  But God sorts through our words and conscious thoughts and hears the prayer of our heart and life.

It is unfortunate that prayer is an issue at school—especially when someone’s position on “prayer in school” is used as a litmus test for “proving” if you are a good Christian, or not. Hogwash.

Yes, I pray and I encourage everyone to pray. Prayer is not a magic formula but a connection that we open between ourselves and God. Our life’s conversation with God is what our best life is all about.

Thanks for asking me the question. I am sure you have studied and struggled effectively, formulating your own opinion in the matter.

See you in church,

Rev. Pat Conley