What an ugly religion that is.
I was drawn to the earth-based religions because of their open arms and their acceptance of the different and flawed.
I didn’t realise that the qualities that I sought are the qualities that Jesus brought to us.
Then when life handed me too much life, when ill-health, tragedy and struggle tumbled one on top of the other I needed more than the whimsy and mysticism of the earth based religions. I needed something awesome and powerful. I opened my Bible without any real expectation, just the bland hope from the diffident Sunday School teachings of youth.
I found the love of everything and everyone that I had been looking for. I found the acceptance and the inclusion that I longed for.
Talk about wide open arms of love, Jesus looked for the weird outcasts and counted them among his companions. Tight-lipped, type A Martha, a woman after my own heart, was one of his closest friends. Forgiveness, love, tolerance are the behaviours he teaches. He was among the first to show us how affirmations and visualisations are part of a healthy life.
It didn’t take long to discover a church of real inclusion and love – as a matter of fact, I discovered many. Their small brick and mortar doors pepper our streets. Their words can be found on YouTube.
These churches and pastors didn’t dictate they welcomed.
What I found was relief from the midlife bundle of burdens. Oh, my new faith didn’t stop the avalanche but it does offer me a strength and peace that help me travel through. I also found a companion in the Holy Spirit, who is mine to call on for any reason- from a lid that’s too tight through the jagged grief of loss. This is a religion of grace, comfort and joy where nothing is too small or too great.
This is the religion that has endured. It is a religion of tenderness and forgiveness not of politics and exclusion. It is not ugly it is beautiful and it beckons us to find the beautiful within each other. That is why it’s endured because it’s not the religion of political caucuses or ear-splitting tyranny. It is a religion for the common among us.
On this Easter Weekend, if your faith has been waning or you have been frightened by the strident, give the Word another try.
Open a Bible and find the words of love, acceptance and grace that have been written just for you.