Religious practice is a personal decision. Religion is a cultural imperative. You do not have to agree with me. That is the First Amendment in action. The remedy when you are presented with religious information or communications that you are unwilling to listen to is this: don’t listen. Simple. I give this preface because someone invariably gives me annoying clatter when these Dispatches turn to matters of Faith.
Our beloved Pastor Josh recently requested (Assigned? Harassed? Haranged?) some folks to write suggested “ministry values” for our church, which is a part of the denomination Disciples of Christ. Generally, the Disciples don’t focus on doctrinal details which exclude people from worship.
I had never heard of “ministry values.” When Josh brought the subject up, I pictured that most useless of all writings (ok, maybe it’s tied with the love letter), the “Mission Statement.” That’s where an organization says in flowing incomprehensible blather what they have no intention of ever doing, hoping that the rubes will be so confused that they will forget to evaluate the organization’s results.
I looked on the net and found some examples, which were of little help. I even found a translation of Martin Luther’s Theses, which were, well, whining twaddle so far as I could tell. Since a whole Reformation was based upon them, I suspect my own analysis is at fault rather than Luther was inadequate.
In any event, Draft #2 was moderately serious, and I submitted it on the level:
Some of the common values of the people of Central Christian Church:
The people of Central Christian Church are loving and faithful Christians. We do not march stiffly in step to one single dictated dogma. Rather we walk together as best our understanding of Christ’s teaching leads us to do.
As Disciples of Jesus the Christ, we faithfully adhere to the virtues taught by God - love, honestly, kindness, caring, humility, and service.
We love one another.
We accept one another.
We support & serve one another, knowing that God has called each of us to a ministry of our own, the nature of which is unique to each of us in accordance with the gifts He has given us.
In times of sorrow or trouble, we give extra of ourselves, whatever it may take, to serve our brethren, whether giving love, encouragement or loving guidance, always with humility and love, and always in privacy and confidence.
We support & serve our community, and the greater community of mankind.
We inhabit a garden of many herbs and flowers, each beautiful and useful in its way. (See Note 1)
There is evil in the world, and we face it without hesitation and with God’s justice. (See Note 2)
We acknowledge our need always to learn and to teach one another, to question, to respect the opinions of one another, and to open our minds to concepts and ideas. We focus upon the Bible for authority and also open ourselves to supplemental sources.
We expresss gratitude to God and live lives of Joy.
We incorporate prayer into our daily intimate lives as our communication to and from God.
There is no water so holy as the sweat of honest labor nor prayer so sincere as the extended hand.
Our core agreement is that Jesus is the Christ. He has gone to prepare a place for us and he will return and take us there personally. (See Note 3)
OK, I did my best given that I’m not what one would call an ecclesiastical scholar who hangs round the scriptorium and misses dinner.
But there was also Draft #1, which, while crude and whimsical, still had elements of my own beliefs:
We value rock & roll. [I’m not sure why, we just do.]
We value blended scotch and believe that the guys who order single malt are effete snobs.
We believe guys ought to ogle the girls and the girls ought to eye the guys and God planned it that way. Moreover, distillation was made possible to aid in that endeavor.
We are heartily sorry for our sins, but not so much that we’re going to quit doing all of them.
We value God’s peace and will smile and turn the other cheek right up until someone REALLY pisses us off or messes with one of our children, in which case all bets are off, and it’s time to open a six-pack of whoop-ass.
Jesus carries a .46. (See Note 4)
There is no water so holy as honest sweat.
Note 1: I specifically and intentionally stole that from Baha’i writings.
Note 2: OK, originally, it was “without fear,” which is mega-dumb.
Note 3: Our Dad said that each of us has a ministry, and I'll expand on that at some other time. This comes from a specific passage: "Let not your heart be troubled. Who believes in God believes also in me. In my Father's house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And I will come again, and take you there personally." This has been a part of communications with intimate friends in their own times of ultimate crisis, and is important to me.
Note 4: A Contest!!: The first person to describe the meaning of this phrase will win a book from the Three Parsec Bookshelf®, to be selected by blog proprietor. Subnote: Bros. Dennis, Joel, David and Bert are not eligible, because they would find the topic too easy. Bro. Bert’s wife is also ineligible, because I thing Bert’s been sandbagging us in his blog (see link to right), and LaBert knows more about the topic that all of us. However, if Bros. Josh or Norton or Sisters Carolyn or Sarai are the winners, I’ll DOUBLE the prize (goodness, I’m channeling Billy Mays - who, by the way, I have it on good authority that Bro. Josh killed) and maybe even throw in some other form of media. All caprice is final.
Please feel free to gather the firewood for a burning-at-the-stake, and we'll talk.