Our “Healing Waters” series addressing the wounds caused by religious trauma ends this Sunday, May 28. In the sermon, I will be inviting us to become a healing church. Here’s a preview.
According to “the latest U. S. Religion Census from 2010-2020, the share of Americans with a religious affiliation dropped by 11 points.” And not just, as you might be thinking, on the East and West Coasts. The share of Americans with a religious affiliation also “sharply declined,” to quote the survey, here in the Midwest middle (Ryan Burge, “How Religion Influences Politics,” quoted in The Week, May 26, 2023, p. 12).
Why is that? We can blame all sorts of things, of course. Distractions, incessant busy-ness, the current “what’s in it for me” American malaise. But we would be sinfully remiss if we did not also turn the mirror to ourselves, get those logs out of our eyes, and ask the questions:
What we have done to drive people away?
In what ways has our Christian proclamation become irrelevant or even damaging?
Jesus, my friends, is not the problem.
The Good News he came to share and embody is just as needed and life-giving today as it ever has been. He came to bring abundant life. He came “to preach the Message of good news to the poor; to announce pardon to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind; to set the burdened and battered free; to announce, ‘This is God’s year to act!’” (Luke 4:18-19, The Message). Jesus came to offer food to the hungry and a cup of cool water to the thirsty. He came to offer welcome, hope, healing, forgiveness, peace.
Much-needed Good News, all.
No, Jesus is not the problem. The problem are those theologies, teachings, and practices that lead to distorted images of God, self, and others—which in turn lead to alienation from God, self, and others.
We call ourselves “a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.” Eureka Christian Church, are those just pretty words?
What kind of Christians and what kind of church are we going to be? Are we going to be the kind of church that contributes to religious trauma? Are we going to be the kind of church that—perhaps more insidiously, more temptingly—keeps silent in the face of religious trauma?
Or, are we going to be the kind church that lovingly, faithfully, tirelessly carries Jesus into all the broken places and all the wounded hearts that are all around us?
We call ourselves “a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.” Disciples, do we mean it?
I’ll see you Sunday.