I have attended evangelical, pentecostal, charismatic churches for 17 years; at this point it’s in my blood. Hand-clapping, foot-stomping, dancing in the aisles, speaking in tongues—some people call that going too far, I call it a typical Sunday morning. So it’s quite amusing that I would now find myself a part of a liturgical community that celebrates the Eucharist every week and follows the weekly lectionary. Proof if anyone ever needed it that God has a great sense of humor!
So how did this happen? How did I get here? I love the energy, the passion and charisma of the evangelicals. I love their devotion to God, their commitment to taking Scripture seriously and the reverence with which they approach the things of God. I love their emphasis on having a personal one-on-one relationship with God and giving your life over to Jesus. My faith has been intensely nurtured by the evangelical, pentecostal, charismatic communities I’ve been a part of. However, (and you knew this was coming), I am deeply disturbed by how rigid, judgmental and anti-intellectual evangelicals can be. I firmly believe that living the life of faith does not require the abandonment of reason and there are certain aspects of evangelical theology that require you to turn off your brain and abandon common sense. I cannot accept that nor do I believe that God is calling me to. Jesus says in Luke 10:27 to love God with all your heart, your soul, your strength AND your mind. Authentic Christianity is not the abandonment of reason for faith, but the marriage of faith and reason.
I struggled with my sexuality for many years, 16 to be exact. It was absolutely amazing to me to finally experience God’s acceptance of me as a gay man. For so many years I never thought that was possible. For the first time in my life I felt whole. My faith and my sexuality came together. Having reached this place I could no longer remain with my evangelical church. I could stay and hide a big part of my life or leave; staying and being open and honest was not an option. A friend told me about The Crossing and somehow this evangelical fell in love with a liturgical community that is at once intellectual and progressive, and deeply spiritual. After leading a couple of reflections from the Gospels in the lectionary during service I decided I wanted to continue the practice of encountering God in the weekly Gospel selections and share my reflections with others. So here I go!
Every week I will share a reflection on the Gospel passage in the lectionary that is read in churches all over the world during Sunday service. I will follow the guidelines I learned at The Crossing:
· Choose one point to make that is closely related to the Scripture passage.
· Weave your personal story into the message you’re sharing.
· Use your personal story as a diving board to help cause others to focus on their own lives.
· Bring the reflection to a meaningful close.
As a charismatic evangelical I am excited to now join a tradition that has nourished the faith of many Christians for many, many years by following the lectionary. And I hope my reflections will be of benefit to others. I’ll also be sharing bits and pieces of my experience incorporating liturgical tradition into my evangelical understanding of God. Thank you for being a part of this journey with me!