Jesus was not one to stamp his foot and expect others always to meet him on his own turf. The Gospels are clear that Jesus took his message into the highways and byways, into the fields and upon the waters, into many different and diverse homes, often with people the respectable classes looked down on. Jesus took his spiritual message out-side the usual recognized avenues of religion. As he took his age-old message beyond social conventions, power was released. The ancient Jewish message was reanimated.
How Jesus delivered his message to turn back to God loomed large in the “God move-ment” he inaugurated. He knew what he stood for. He believed in essentials that were non-negotiable. He didn’t make it up as he went along. Still, Jesus wasn’t too fancy, too prim, too proper. He was no religious nerd. Jesus travelled outside the familiar, usual or-bit into comfort zones where people lived. Why? Perhaps on their own turf they felt safer to hear the real terms of life in relationship with God. Terms like mercy and forgiveness, grace and generosity, loyalty and truthfulness. He would compromise on none of these.
Frankly, this is one of the things people most admire about Jesus. That he didn’t remain forever in the hallowed halls of the temple but got out where people lived their lives. Even non-Christians, people who didn’t and who don’t today follow Jesus, admire him for this.
This is worth noticing as we explore the spirituality of everyday experience. That is what is happening in events like our Blessing of the Animals and our new Blessing of the Rolling Fleet. To get the word out, I visited car shows to spread flyers for this car show after our 10 am service this Sunday (rain date, next Sunday, June 12). I did so in ways showing that at First Congregational we don’t take ourselves too seriously, in ways fun and breezy. People caught the spirit, smiling back at me. I hope they saw something of Jesus in that.
At our best, our UCC churches have a strong center and porous boundaries. Both halves of this identity are vital. The strong center is the message Jesus brought about signing on with God’s reign rather than building our own petty, little self-serving empires to ourselves. The boundaries are about sharing this message with human beings, moving in and out of borders the world draws up about who is in and who is not, who’s blessed and who’s not.
I confess, this movement of the spirituality of everyday experience, is new for me as well. Frankly, I am more conventionally religious. But I confess I still need to change and grow.
We often hear people say if Christianity is only about Sunday, and not the real strivings of folks in the world during the rest of the week, that faith is a sham. The church hasn’t often found creative ways to live out this noble sentiment. Neither have we found the energy to get into the streets, preferring to remain in the cloistered hallowed halls of God’s temple. It feels pretty good to get out there. Will you let your own light shine? Bring your ideas! We can do so much more to freshen and reanimate our historic church and age old faith.