Showtime

By the time you read this blog, millions of people will have already attended an Easter service on Sunday. Many parishioners will have purchased new clothes, and numerous churches will have spent money to make sure that their buildings and the worship experience are as attractive as possible. There will be plays, dramatizations, special guests, and special effects. In an overheard conversation, one pastor even called Easter Sunday, “Showtime”.

I thought long and hard about that statement. What exactly are churches offering on “Showtime” Easter Sunday? And why is that offering not compelling enough to encourage persons to come back before Easter of the next year? Is that an indication of their lack of religious conviction or an indictment of the relevance of the Church? Many churches are reporting that attendance is dropping and it is not beyond belief to wonder if eventually Easter will just become another Sunday.

I don’t think it has to be that way. Even in our age of smartphones, tablets, and virtual-almost-everything, I still believe that the community church is relevant and necessary. There are challenges that the Church must address. How does the Church really feel about marriage equality and why are so many Church marriages failing? What does the Church really think about issues like gun control, poverty, and equal rights? Has there ever really been a separation between Church and State and, if so, what are the boundaries? These are questions that need answers and not all of those answers are easy to obtain. And most of the people who found their way into Church doors on Easter cared more about the love they felt rather than the answers to those questions.

So maybe rather than Showtime, it is “time to show” the love of Jesus in a relevant way. It is “time to show” that church members are not perfect, just persistent. It is “time to show” that wearing the right attitude is more important than wearing the right clothes and that what you are driving is far less important than what is driving you. For the Church it is time to show that compassion, forgiveness, redemption, hope, and love are really the most impressive things that can ever be shown. So is it Showtime? Yes, every single Sunday; hopefully, the Church will make sure to show the right things!

Reflections and Resolutions: Guiding the year ahead with lessons from before

Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers. Rainer Maria Rilke

I want to believe that I am consciously using every lesson I have ever learned in life in a way that supports my integration and growth as a human being. The truth of my awareness, however, speaks to the fact that I am still guided by many beliefs learned unconsciously and my conscious response to some lessons is not quite as enlightened as I wish it could be.

Regardless, my reflection of who I have become over this past year calls for a rousing cheer: I have become a better human being.

I did not get here all by myself. Other humans walked with me along my path for a time. In their shadows, I found my reflection. In their words, I found my sorrows, my hopes, my dreams, my healings. In their eyes, I saw what I meant to them. These humans are my friends, my classmates, my clients, and my strangers. They are all my teachers. They are the collective world I live in. They help me awaken and find my light.

I bring this better new me to this new year. Of course, I bring a new me to each new moment, but I love the symbolic energy associated with new beginnings: a new day, a new moon, a new year. Who am I to be in these next 365 days?

At my spiritual community, the Center for Spiritual Living, our reverend gave a sermon with the beguiling title ““Do Not Seek The Answer; Live The Question”. She went on to talk about the mystical quality of living into the questions I have of myself and life and being grateful for the lessons offered by my questions.

To not seek an answer seems counterintuitive. We are born with inquisitive minds, and our survival requires concrete answers about what to eat, where to sleep, and who to associate with. When clients come to me for pastoral counseling, they want solutions for their troubles, and I am often on the edge of my seat full of remedies just waiting to be tested.

Issues about housing, safety, and survival aside, a client’s true answer will come from his or her own insight. Clients are becoming just as I am becoming in their own human way. My resolution in this new year is to bring the gift of question to my moments, my clients’ moments with me, and, as Rilke said, perhaps we can then live into our answers.

What questions are you living this year?