Between Two Worlds Day 38 (of 40)
When I was a boy each week; On Sunday we would go to church; And pay attention to the priest; He would read the holy word; And consecrate the holy bread; And everyone would kneel and bow; Today the only difference is; Everything is holy now; Everything, everything; Everything is holy now
Those are the opening lines to Peter Mayer’s song Holy Now that reader Susan forwarded to me as we have explored this changing, shifting and evolving world of religion and spirituality. “Everything is holy now,” writes Mayer. In many ways that single line captures the delight and the struggle of our time.
Diana Butler Bass, a well-known speaker and author on religion, says that the story is not that mainline Protestant churches are dying; the story is that God has just moved. Of course she doesn’t mean this literally as if God had set up camp in our churches for centuries and finally got bored in our cramped spaces. What she means is that we moderns no longer look to the heavens to experience the divine. We look for the Sacred Presence right here where Main Street meets Wall Street and where our private and public lives often collide.
As a pastor it almost feels sometimes like the rituals, beliefs and language of the church are like training wheels for the spiritually inclined. We practice prayer and praise. We learn how to be generous and love our neighbor. We celebrate sacraments where we tell the story that God is not far off, but present in the breaking of bread, the sharing of vows, and giving thanks for the gift of life. But I have met many people who no longer feel the need for the support of the church in order to live a life of prayer, praise, generosity, and with an eye for the everyday sacred. It’s as if they have adopted Mayer’s song singing, “Once the priest consecrated the holy bread…Now the only difference is that everything is holy now…every meal and every breath is a holy gift now.”
I wonder what this means for the church. If God is just as present outside the walls and the tradition of the church will the church one day lose its purpose. Or will we still need priests, pastors, spiritual directors, churches and sanctuaries where we can share the good news saying, “Guess what? God has come home. God is right here. God is as close as your next breath.”
Will folks want to come to church to hear that message or will they leave church because of that message!
I wonder what future God has in store for us.