It is early morning here at First United and, for the moment all is calm and quiet. In a bit the ladies will arrive to begin preparations for breakfast and at about 7:30 people will begin to trickle in to begin the third day here at the Atlantic Seminar in Theological Education. By 9am the quiet will be gone and there will be a symphony of voices sharing, laughing, engaging in faith.
This year we have been blessed with the presence of two great minds, Michael Morwood and Jan Phillips, who have been inspiring and challenging us to see and hear the G-O-D story in new ways. For some of us these thoughts are perhaps new and for others of us they are simply giving voice to where we have been for a long time.
We talk a lot about the changing face of the church and how people are not engaged the way they used to be. There is a great movement of folks who say “I am spiritual but not religious” and have rejected, in some cases never even entered, the institutional church. For these folk the traditional understandings of God, in particular, do not speak to them nor do they make sense in light of all that we know about universe and energy and indeed life itself. And yet there is a longing, a yearning, among people for deeper connections and a spirituality that empowers and engages.
The theme of the Conference this year is “Beyond Dreaming. Be the change you wish to see in the world”. We are being challenged to essentially put our feelings and understandings into action and reflect what we believe. For many, the understanding of a deity that exists somewhere in the heavenly realm who has direct influence upon and ability to manipulate human life has long since been abandoned.
God is understood as energy, as universal love, as the essence of being that lives within and around us.
And yet, we still speak about and pray as though we are engaging with another being who can intervene if they choose. To move beyond the dreaming, to connect with the spiritual but not religious, it is time that we amend our language to speak what we believe. This is not easy for those of us who have grown up in the church. We cling to the familiar and to the words that slip easily from our lips. For some this is effortless and there is a sense of security even though they may no longer reflect our belief.
Growing, Changing and Becoming
I find myself invigorated by these conversations and the challenge to own our understandings and reflect that in how we live out our lives. Faith is an evolutionary process always growing, changing and becoming. For me that is what makes it ALIVE! We are all at different places in this journey and that too is life giving. Every conversation, every question, every wondering has within it the opportunity to deepen faith and to explore what perhaps you had never considered.
May it be so.
© 2018 Rev. Valerie Peyton Kingsbury. All rights reserved.