Easter must be trueBottom Highlights, Online Only, Where's the Faith? Thursday, March 28th, 2013
wtf? where’s the faith?
BY REV. DAN KOESHALL
One of the things I love about our church is the diversity we have. Look around – people come from all walks of life and from many different denominations, church experiences and spiritual paths. We are a community church built on the premises of what our founder, Troy Perry called the three-prong gospel: Christian salvation, Christian community and Christian social action. All are welcome here.
Our approach to faith and Christianity is one of openness, inclusiveness and even exploration. In striving to embrace and celebrate diversity, we don’t say what or how a person has to believe in order to find full fellowship in this community of faith. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own personal perspectives, questions and doubts. Some would call this progressive Christianity – open to considering new ideas and understandings. God is not neatly tucked into a box.
I am blessed to meet with a full range of clergy, imams and rabbis throughout the year. It’s enriching and invigorating to my spirit. God is so big! So, what does this have to do with Easter?
Rev. Fred Plumer told of how he was asked the question, “Do you think the Easter Story is true?” He answered the question as fast as he was asked it, “It must be true. I don’t think the church would have survived for 2,000 years if it wasn’t.” Hmm … that’s a long time.
And here we are – in 2013 – still telling the story of Jesus and what is true are those timeless lessons that Jesus left his followers and ultimately us. What is true is that anyone can experience the “kingdom” or the Realm of God. What is true is that when we experience that Realm, we wouldn’t want to live any other way. And then Jesus told his followers how to do it.
He told us that he could not do it for us. It’s up to us to choose to walk the path. It’s up to us to learn to live a certain way, to think a certain way and to be a certain way. It’s up to us to develop the eyes to see and the ears to hear that the world around us and all we come in contact with are part of God’s creation.
What is true is that when we learn to take responsibility for our actions, make amends for those whom we have harmed and change what we have to change, so that it won’t happen again, then our lives will be different. We’ll begin to experience a true freedom.
What is true is that if we begin to trust that God ultimately has our best interest at heart, we might discover that everything that we do, every action we take, every mistake that we make becomes a new lesson and an opportunity – a lesson we needed to learn. And if we learn from those lessons and put them in perspective we’ll begin to live a full and spiritually fulfilling life.
Rev. Plumer went on to say that what is true is that if we want to stop feeling lonely, if we want to stop feeling isolated, if we want to experience God’s light in others and in ourselves, we have to learn how to stop judging others. For as long as we are judging others, we are judging ourselves, we are judging the world and we are judging God the Creator.
What is true is that learning to forgive others and ourselves is the first step to true freedom. If we want to move forward with our lives, if we want to lift the burdens from our back and remove the stones from our hearts, we must learn to forgive those who we believe have harmed us. Carrying the weight of anger, or judgment, or hurt around, because we cannot let it go, is simply debilitating.
What is true is that we need to learn to love the way God loves us; the way a mother loves her unborn child. When we learn to love our neighbor, even our enemies, as we love ourselves, all of the false barriers, prejudice, racism, classism, ageism and so many other “isms” begin to fall away. When we reach out in compassion to one who needs us or can learn from us, or can be healed by us, then we discover God’s light in them and it helps our light burn brighter. Then we discover we are all connected – we are not alone.
What is true, he goes on, is that if we want to experience the Realm of God, we need to live with a generous heart. We need to be generous with our love, with our time, with our assets. When we hold back, when we hold on, when we try to control and horde anything, it will rot in our hearts; it will spoil in our storage units; it will build up spiritual cholesterol in our lives. Jesus taught that we should not worry about what we eat, what we drink or what we wear or how long we will live. What is true is that when we live with a generous heart we learn that our attachments can become our prison and we can discover how to be free.
What is true is that Jesus taught that life is a gift – it is a rare and precious opportunity. If we treat it like a gift to be cherished, to be celebrated, to be appreciated, our lives will take on new meaning. Our death will have no sting. Life is an opportunity, not a chore that we must simply trudge through.
Jesus didn’t necessarily do something for us through his death; he did something for us through his life! He taught his followers with parables and told them to “go and do likewise.” We are to live it; to risk it; to become it.
If the Easter Story is true, (and I believe it is), it means we have to rethink our values, our priorities, our lives. It means we have to learn to trust God, to give up some of the control we hold on to. It means we have to let go of the attachments that we believe define us. It means we have to stop trying to be No. 1 or feeling badly because we’re not No. 1 and learn how to live as one within God’s great creation, by how we love.
Jesus shared the truth that the Realm of God, that ultimate relationship with God and with one another was available to anyone. That’s the Good News that we celebrate on Easter Sunday; that’s the good news that we can celebrate every day.
How can you know that it is true? Jesus said, “You will know by the fruit that it bears.” In other words, you will know by the peace, the fulfillment, by the contentment, by the joy that it brings to you. You will know it by living it.
There’s a song I grew up singing in church and there is a line in it that says, “You ask me how I know he lives – he lives within my heart.”
My prayer is that you will each experience new life and your own (personal) life-giving truths – and that you live in the love and resurrection power of the Risen Christ! Amen.
Rev. Dan Koeshall is the senior pastor at The Metropolitan Community Church (The Met), 2633 Denver Street, San Diego, California, themetchurch.org. Services every Sunday at 9 and 11 a.m.
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