Many years ago I attended a funeral for a young father and his two school age children who had died in a freak car accident. His wife and mother to her dead children seemed inconsolable at the front of this larger Missionary Baptist Church. There were over a thousand mourners attending, in the sanctuary and video casting to rooms throughout the building. Since I was clergy and a good friend of the senior minister, I sat behind the pulpit and could see the wife and mother in the front row. As the service progressed the parishioners were wailing such sorrow as I have never heard before. But when the preacher began talking about how that little family had been saved in Jesus and how they were going home to God, the mood shifted so dramatically you would have thought someone turned on the lights in a dark room. The woman’s face brightened her shoulders straightened and within ten minutes, the service went from hell to heaven. A sense of liberation had come over the people, one truth, the truth many of us here question, set this woman and an entire congregation free. Don’t tell me that Christianity is nonsense. It might not make sense to some of us, but it can and does free souls from sorrow, anxiety and pain.
And it can just as easily imprison us as well. We have had people come to our church deeply wounded from a fundamentalism so severe that they thought they were bound for hell. At the very least they were bound up in their fears they were going to hell. In one case, a woman, who had left her husband and the cult church they were part of was shunned by the entire congregation, her only connection to the outside world was our church. She worked desperately to free herself here among us. To find a religion that welcomes seekers of truth, not prisoners of truth.
With Grace and Grit, John