This past Sunday, I led a group of Trinity folks through a time of reflection upon the sermon I preached at liturgy that day (to read the sermon, find the blog post from May 11 — it is printed there in its entirety.) As we discussed our varied views on the death of Osama Bin Laden, I became aware that the one thing we weren’t really doing was reflecting upon the sermon. We were certainly involved in a spirited discussion. Passions and tensions were somewhat “elevated” because we all knew there was a diversity of political opinion in the room. But it was as if the sermon couldn’t carry the weight of offering a different way of engaging the subject at hand. We were having difficulty engaging the reflection from a “Christian” perspective.
I wanted us to reflect deeply about the call to living toward our baptismal vows. I wanted us to think about how to live the Christian faith calls us to be at odds with the world (and even the country!) we occupy. And we couldn’t quite get past our discussion about U.S. foreign policy. But then, maybe we (including me!) have a better developed understanding about the latter than the former. The longer I reflect upon the Church’s role (whatever the denominational flavor) in this culture, it seems to me that, in a great many instances, we’ve allowed ourselves to become the bunker into which people flee during times of distress and the place where we can happily hide out from the parts of the world we’d rather not deal with, while simultaneously getting ourselves simultaneously injected with a spiritual booster shot of “feeling religious” — our own little spiritual “moment”, customized for our entertainment and enjoyment.
Sometimes under the rubric of tradition, we hold on to all sorts of accretions — liturgical, theological, practical and social — that have very little to do with the Risen Life of Christ. But it all makes us feel good. We are surrounded with our familiar things! Predictability is more important that passion. Getting by more important than encountering the life-shattering and life-restoring Gospel of Jesus. In some cases, I wonder if the Church has built such a secure bunker that we’ve not only managed to shut out the “scary world”…we’ve managed to fortify ourselves against the “scary Jesus” who calls us to love our enemies, refute violence and take up our cross to follow him — even to death if necessary.