"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them."
When I was a kid, I went to church most Sundays with my parents. I can remember being young and spending time in the church basement with the other kids, although I don't remember much except play and watching the other kids. I can remember squirming in the pew between my parents, uncomfortable with the stillness required, and the joy I felt when it was time to sing a hymn, especially if I knew it.
When I was old enough to ask the question, "Why do I have to go to church?" my mother said, "We want you to go to church with us until you are 12. Then you can make your own decision. But we want you to have something to choose from."
When I was 12, I promptly opted for sleeping in on Sundays rather than going to church, except on Easter and Christmas, when I went and joyfully sang my favorite hymns.
I spent years questioning the existence of God, the necessity of going to church to find God, and the hypocrisy I noted in religion throughout history. For instance, the Crusades...... Blowing up abortion clinics and killing people to save lives..... all that stuff we have all read about, and a lot of personal stuff we've experienced "in the name of religion, in the name of God."
When my mother was diagnosed with cancer in the mid 80s, I went back to church. The minister of our local church was visiting her, and I figured it was the least I could do to return the favor. I liked him. I really liked him. He spent his sermon time defining passages in the Bible in terms of the language of the time when those passages were written. For the first time I actually understood what some of those passages meant. And for the first time, I made the choice to go to church, rather than going because I was told. And for a long time I attended church on a regular basis.
I don't have children of my own. If I did, I'm sorry to say that I probably would not have required them to go to church until they were 12, because I probably would not have been willing to go with them. That's sad, because a lot of people are raising children, or have raised children, without any awareness of God, or whatever their societal name for a higher being is.
That's not to say that hundreds of thousands of people are willing - I know several families who happily attend their chosen church.
But what about us? What about the ones who question a conventional, traditional church? Where can we find God?
I believe there is a growing need for Spiritual haven and understanding. I believe there is a universal need to know that there is something out there 'bigger than us.' I believe there is a thirst in many of us to drink from a well of spiritual guidance, who don't find solace in traditional religious orders, due to lack of understanding, lack of awareness (not having had to "go to church until they are 12") or simply a bad experience in some church or another which colors their view of "religion."
If you are one of those who are experiencing that thirst, go looking for a spiritual drink. Start reading some of the many 'higher awareness' books out there. It really doesn't matter where you start, whether in a traditional church, Protestant, Catholic, Temple, Christian Science, Muslim, or countless others. Or maybe a moving practice which combines body and soul - tai chi, yoga and the like. Or just a book, there are so many that I don't even want to list one, because it is your choice.
I believe there is one premise that is the basis for every spiritual practice out there, except the practice of evil. If it's good, it's God. If it's not good, it's not God. (I don't know if that's a quote or not, but I know I've heard it spoken just like that. I do not take credit for the words, I only have infinite faith in them.)
Give it a try. It just might catch on.
Thanks for listening this morning.
By the way, personally speaking, I found spiritual guidance that works for me (after three decades of searching) at www.theshift.com in the words of Beca Lewis, founder of The Shift® System. If you're not sure where to start, you can always start there. I am a Certified Shift® Trainer now, so you'll see me somewhere around there now, but that's not why I'm writing this this morning. Or maybe it is!