Monday, July 18, 2011


. . . and started trying to figure out what I would do for the day.

BTW, Linda got me thinking about this, because of her post about Sundays. (I believe in giving credit where credit is due.)

There is a pattern for my Sunday mornings. Or, more specifically, my Sunday morning questions. 1. What time is it when I wake up? 2. How I feel? 3. Where will I worship?

That might seem pretty plain and simple, yet it isn't entirely simple.

That's because there are so many variables.

Let's think of the first two questions, for example. Is it 6:00, 8:00, or 10:00? And am I feeling well, tired, sick, or hurting?

All of those factors have an effect on my decisions. If I wake up at 6:00, I'll likely go back to bed. If I'm really tired, sick and/or sore, I'll likely go back to bed.

For a half dozen years, waking up sore and/or sick, and tired was a fairly regular morning pattern, and not just on Sundays. Only recently have things begun to change for me on a regular basis. And the change is delightful, as I said last month.

(Of course, I knew back then this change wasn't going to be a simple ride; sometimes I still end up in the old mode. As I did, yesterday.)

If I wake up at 8:00 or 9:00, and I'm feeling well, I have breakfast, get dressed, and head out for worship.

Where I worship is, perhaps, not an easy choice.

I've been growing my faith for about 50 years, more or less. And the point I have reached is, well, a bit different. Especially for a guy who is a pastor in Canada's largest Protestant church (denomination). 

Cut to the chase. Did Christ die for our sins? No. Jesus died because he was opposed to the value system of his time (which was similar to our time in important ways). Or, more specifically, the keepers of that value system opposed him. Regardless, as W. Edward Demings observed, "Put a good person in a bad system, and system wins, no contest." That's pretty simple.

Nowadays, I feel that the bit about "Christ died for our sins" only works in a world where animal sacrifices are normal, and well understood. We quit doing animal sacrifices a long time ago. So the model, the image, doesn't make sense for a lot people today, particularly North Americans. Even me. If it doesn't make sense for me, if it doesn't help me, why should I keep using it? If it doesn't make sense to others, or help them, why should I keep using it?

Meaning I'm seeking a new understanding of Jesus. That means trying to see his life/ministry in a 20th or 21st century context. I want something which will provide some creativity and usefulness in my every-day living. What's good on Sunday has to be good on Monday, and vice-versa.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Anyhow, I said my thinking is kinda different, in terms of who/what Jesus was/is. I'm looking for a new model. Something that's simple, easy to explain.

So, if I'm going to worship, I want to find a place where I feel hopeful — a place where I am accepted, a place that will help me reflect on life and "grow my soul." A place that isn't focused on what was part of my past. And there are some; I've located a couple. One is even a bit Celtic.

I feel this is getting a bit long. So I'll quit while I'm ahead, and come back to this in a week's time.

BUT in the meantime, here's an important thought. What you believe is what you believe. Because you have been working on your beliefs too, maybe for a long time. What I believe is what I believe. If you've got questions or comments, I would love to hear them. People learn by sharing ideas.


cheshire wife said...

What a positive post. I am looking forward to the next instalment. Pleased to hear that you are feeling better.

Tattieweasle said...

Always felt that one's religion is a personal pursuit...thought provoking post.

About Last Weekend said...

I really enjoyed this post because I am not religious, do not go to church (brought up a Catholic) and am very cynical about religion. Having said that my auntie was a nun and a brilliant and kind person. I am very open to hearing people's thoughts and "did not die for our sins" I agree with that ....

Amanda Summer said...

there is spirituality and then there is religion. i was raised catholic, then married a jew and see many things in the judeo christian tradition that really give me such i happen to have a problem with organized religion.

very thought-provoking post r-bear. i think if jesus came back today he would have some trouble with many aspects of how the beliefs he founded have been distorted by mankind in the intervening years.

Rob-bear said...

® cw: THANKS. I will write more. Thanks for the encouragement.

® Tattie Weasle: While our beliefs are personal, they are normally developed in conversation with others. As well, our beliefs inspire our daily activities. Those are my feelings.
So, there is a public aspect to our private beliefs.

Rob-bear said...

® ALW: Thanks for sharing. I appreciate it when people are prepared to be risky and share themselves.
I'm interested in your "cynicism" about religion. I take it you've been hurt. Would you care to say anything about your cynicism, and its roots, Jody?

® amanda: Thank you amanda/persephone. I also believe Jesus would be a bit shocked were he here with us. Probably more than a bit.
I'm puzzled about the difference between shared faith and organized religion. What do you see as the difference?

P.S.: If you want to e-mail me, rather than comment through the blog, that would be fine. Always glad to hear from people.

Nancy said...

I can't wait to hear where you go with this.

Unknown said...

I've been muddling this Jesus dying for our sins thing around in my head and heart for about 25 years. While making the bed one Sunday morning, it occured to me that He Didn't Have to die, He just did (die that is). It was the way the story played out. Sure, if as you say, the politics of the day had been different, Barabbas hadn't have been chosen, the story would have ended up differently.
It was never about how Jesus died, it was all about how he lived. We've been focusing on the wrong thing for a very long time. (my conclusion).
Love this conversation today's world, religion/church/spirituality is a very confusing one.

Rob-bear said...

® Jacqueline: Thanks for sharing your experience. Shared experience is what often kindles important thoughts in others.
It is, indeed, about how Jesus lived, what he did, who he was. I think that's really crucial.
I hope the conversation continues to be useful to you.

Natalie said...

I love Jacqueline's comment: it is not about how he died, but how he lived. Very similar to my post about focusing on the healing, not the event itself.

Rob-bear said...

® Natalie: Thanks for the note. It's important to get the emphasis in the right place.