Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Last Sunday was Pentecost.  I don’t know about you, but I felt the Spirit of God moving in our congregation as we celebrated baptisms and remembered and renewed our own baptismal vows.  Many of you spoke to me about how meaningful the service was to you.  As always, thank you for sharing your experience with me.

This Sunday, we will have an opportunity to worship through hearing a mission moment from Jeremy and Amy Simons, our missionaries to the Philippines.  We will also celebrate a baby dedication.  Lastly, Pastor Lumi will be preaching.  Her sermon title is “Proof of a True Religion.”  Her scripture text is from the book of James 1:26-27, which reads: “if any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” 

Recently I’ve been thinking about what makes for a meaningful religious experience or in Pastor Lumi’s words, “what demonstrates a true religion.”  For me when I hear the word “true” the word authentic comes to mind.  When I think about authentic religion, I think about a practice of religious rituals and beliefs that is filled with a robust spirituality.  I imagine many people in the world, perhaps even some in our own faith community, have experienced “religion” or the practice of religious rituals and beliefs that was devoid of any sense of spirituality.  Instead of an encounter with God, the person was told they had to do this or do that.  Instead of gaining a new understanding of their relationship with God, they were left with theological doctrines that were not germane to their lived life.  Instead of them being told God loved them, they left thinking they had to earn God’s love.  I imagine this resulted in such individuals feeling the religious experience being offered to them was “not true,” that it was inauthentic.  I think such experienced led many individuals eventually to move away from “organized religion.”  

I’m thankful that at BCWC we seek for our religious practices to be infused with spirituality.  This is because I believe the best religious practice is one with a robust spirituality, that is personal, practical and calls us to be faithful in our present moments.  And as the book of James states, that kind of religion is experienced when we connect what we believe about ourselves and God with our interactions with our neighbors. 

Is the practice of your religious faith true and authentic filled with a robust spirituality?

Pastor Dave