There has been a great article going around the web that originated with the Humans of New York site, written by a women in New York studying to be a rabbi. She makes the correlation between being in the crowd at an important baseball game and feeling the emotion and contentedness that comes when people come together around a common cause. If you have been to an important sporting event, you know this feeling.
I was struck by her honesty in the beginning. “I’m studying to be a rabbi. I’m a little worried that I’ll be out of a job because less and less people seem to find religion meaningful.”
She’s right- which is why her opening comment stopped me in my tracks. As a congregational pastor who serves a strong, thriving congregation, I still find myself worried about the same thing. Most clergy I know do as well. Will our profession be around in say, 50 years? 25 years, even. Will those who have felt the call to ordained ministry, sacrificed time, money, and perhaps some of our sanity in pursuing an advanced degree in religion have a place to use those skills and gifts? The traditional metrics by which one picks a course of study and a career aren’t favorable to professional ministry.
That’s mostly because not nearly as many people find organized religion meaningful or necessary today. For too long, organized religion blamed people for this. Finally, organized religion has begun to look in the mirror and see the problem reflected in the mirror.
I love Brene Brown’s work and I think her work is important for the church to note. She writes, “there is only one variable that separated people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging.”
Perhaps that’s the only bit of theology that the church needs. All people are worthy of love and belonging. I wonder how many people would be interested in organized religion if this were our message, our aim, our whole plan.
Maybe that’s our best hope. Start with love and belonging. Make this our common cause. Make this our starting point for holy relationships. Cherish those moments when we truly get it right. Resolve to create more moments when we truly get it right. Get out of the way and let God go to work.
When we allow God to work, we have our Game 7 moment.