At my university, I am part of a Christian group on campus. This group has caused me enormous difficulties in trying to discover what my faith means to me because they are so far from the Christianity I know and consider to be a sort of home, but at the same time, they’ve given me people who care about my spiritual well-being. So in my small group (the group I’ve met with every Wednesday since early September), we’re reading a book about wonder in a relationship with Jesus and God.
(What I meant by the “Christianity I know and consider to be a sort of home” is that going to church is comforting for me. It gives me a chance to be quiet for a little bit, and that time of quiet is something I treasure. It is a place where other people can reach God, and even if I can’t reach him, I am reminded that maybe I can some day. I am surrounded by people who believe, or who try to believe, and the minister invariably says something to the seekers or those who aren’t sure if they believe, and it makes me feel welcome.
The service M and I like to attend on Sundays is the Celtic service at St. Stephen’s. The service is about God and connecting with him through meditation and silent prayer, and I love that. They also have some beautiful things they say which always make me want to follow the God they follow. I’m just going to type up some of the parts from the service a few weeks ago.
“A Prayer for the Evening: Teach us, Loving God, not to hold on to life too tightly. Teach us to hold it lightly, not carelessly, but lightly, easily. Teach us to take it as a gift, to enjoy and cherish while we have it, and to let it go gracefully and thankfully when the time comes. The gift is great, but the Giver is greater still. You, O God, are the Giver, and in you is the life that never dies. Amen.
The Grace: Now my friends, all that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is lovable and gracious, whatever is excellent and admirable; with these let us fill our hearts, and the God of heaven will be with us. Amen.
Communion: This is the table, not of the Church, but of the Lord. It is made ready for those who love him and for those who want to love him more. So, come, you who have much faith and you who have little, you who have been here often and you who have not been here long, you who have tried to follow and you who have failed. Come, because it is the Lord who invites you. It is his will that those who want him should meet him here.
Blessing: May joy and nothing less find you on the way. May you be blessed and a blessing. And may light guide you, and countless others, all the way home. Amen.
The Dismissal: Go out into the world in peace, have courage, hold on to what is good, return no one evil for evil, strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, help the suffering, honor everyone, love and serve God, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit. Thanks be to God.”
Anyhow, I think that makes more sense now.)
The entire chapter for tomorrow was on faith and doubt and the value of asking questions. (“When people are hungry for God, every question is “right”…Curiosity is welcome in the presence of Jesus even when it is not welcome anywhere else.”) It was amazing — like it was written with me in mind. There were some great things in the chapter, but the part at the end was the most engaging. It was a set of discussion questions. Parts of them read, “Jesus had to be killed because He had to be silenced. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day, the Pharisees, wanted Jesus dead because his questions were threatening, even dangerous. Think about your own questions about faith–have any of them been “silenced”? What are they?…What unanswered questions bother you, frustrate you, or make it difficult for you to grow?…List all the questions you have about God. Even though you don’t have all the answers, try to allow your questions to bring you closer to God.” So, here are the questions I came up with in a few minutes.
Where are you? Why does it hurt? Am I loved? Where did you go? How can I hear you? What is the point of prayer? Why should I worship you? What is my purpose? How can I love better? Do you heal? How come I can’t hear you? How do I get to you? Where does Jesus factor into this? How should I know you? Who are you? Why did you create us? How can I better serve? Why do your followers act like that? How should I follow? Is there such thing as sin? Why should we be close? Is there a heaven? Would you punish those who break a law? Do you have laws? Where is justice? Where is your compassion? Will I be punished for seeking? Where am I going to end up if I can’t have faith like them? Why is it so hard for me? Is this worth it?