Recently, I came across a piece I wrote for Christmas 1995 which I would like to update here. This is because it strikes me now that the systemic situation described has not gone away; but to the contrary, has unfortunately worsened.
It begins… A few weeks ago my youngest daughter, 15, was denied the opportunity of singing at a wedding to which our family had been invited.
I can still see the church’s elderly organist explaining to the unbelieving eyes of our daughter and the bride to be, that their ‘secular’ music was not suitable.
No amount of reasoning would move her. Instead of getting ‘Wind beneath my Wings’, we got ‘shot down’, in full flight.
The organist got her way; but the bride vowed it would be the last time she would be in a church. I tried to offset my own daughter’s feeling about the ‘typical’ hypocritical nature of the church. And, I remembered that Christ warn the Pharisees of just such an error in judgement, concerning outward things.
So, here we are at Christmas just four weeks later and what have we learned. Well, according to these young ones, they have learned that the church is mainly made up people who are more concerned with upholding rules than the ‘spirit’ of the faith.
Yet Jesus said, suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not. This Christmas as some ponder the bleak future of the church; maybe more concern should be on the reasons why.
Now, as I write this … almost 16 years later … I can see that the Christian faith, the one I know best, has been greatly diminished by a thousand cuts and ways too numerous to mention. And, the little church that my daughter and her two siblings attended has, just this month, installed a ‘For Sale’ sign on the front lawn.
I suggest that faith never resides in buildings – simple or grand – but in the way we live our lives. If we try to be faithful to what we know in our hearts to be true (and not in some way that challenges reality); and show genuine, active love for our fellow human beings … whatever their faith … then I say we are being true to what lies at the heart of all religions: not some misinterpretation that abuses this basic truth, along with the word.
Fred Parry www.fredparry.ca (2011)