Religion Recovery

religionrecovery      It got in my head last January to do a sermon series on the ways people have been hurt by religion. Not a real novel idea. Move on over to google and you’ll find millions of posts about how religion, specifically Christianity, has let people down, done damage, and is making our world a mess. But what really got me thinking about doing this were all the conversations inside and outside of the church that I had will people. People who want to connect with God but won’t bring their children to a place where they are vulnerable to assault, people who want to connect with God but have been told by religious leaders that they won’t be joined with their dead children in heaven unless they change their lifestyle. You know the stories. You know the people.

      I thought, okay, let’s just address the ugliness head on. Let’s just call evil evil. Not in a way to disparage the church, but in a way to let the people we’ve wrong heal. Let’s talk about hypocrites, let’s talk about exclusion in the church, let’s talk about judgement and condemnation, let’s talk about abusive leaders.

      My only game plan was to shed light on where we’ve failed people, humbly apologize for my family, earnestly repent, create space to lament, and then invite people into a community of grace and restoration. I guess that’s a pretty decent game plan.

      I had no idea the stories that would bubble up over these past weeks. People are sharing their heartbreak and bitterness, letting go and being set free. Stories of pastors’ kids (Lord have mercy) and grandchildren finding healing again in the church. Stories of women excommunicated for leaving abusive husbands finding safety in arms and body of Christ. Stories of people thinking the roof would cave in if they set foot in church, but finding a community of grace.

      We’re halfway through this series, but my heart is full, getting to work with this incredibly generous, grace-filled, and brave congregation.

      I keep running into people that desire to connect with something bigger than them, to have some sort of spirituality, but cannot trust a mega institution like the church to pipe in religion or spirituality for them. If you’re in that boat, I just want to apologize for the church’s systems and sometimes reckless handling of the good news we’ve been entrusted to give to the world. The good news is still good. The wild and unpredictable God of the universe has come in Christ to usher in a new reality, where there is forgiveness, mercy, justice, love, health, and dancing. We’re just a people who’ve gotten a taste of that, and are called to represent that new way of living. Forgive our missteps. You are welcome to make us better.