Monday, June 28, 2010

There Are No Rules...

Yesterday I went to a very beautiful service at Vancouver's Christ Church Cathedral. As cathedrals go, Christ Church Cathedral is not very big, but it is exquisitely beautiful and has one of the world's best pipe organs. The church was built in 1895 and was constructed in the Gothic stye out of cedar planking and old growth Douglas fir. Vancouver's Christ Church Cathedral is the is the cathedral church of the Diocese of New Westminster of the Anglican Church of Canada, it is the regimental Church of the Seaforth Highlanders, and it is also the church at which the British royal family worships when in Vancouver. It's a beautiful church.

At yesterday's service, the priest's sermon really resonated with me. He spoke about how churches should get rid of all the rules and regulations, and become all-inclusive and welcoming. He said that Christ had stripped away all the rules, but by a couple of centuries later, the Church had put them all back again. That's very true. The rules and regulations are what chased me away from the church. There remained very little of spirituality, and a lot of "can't, don't, shouldn't..." Fire and brimstone seemed to be lurking ever closer, and all sense of sanctity was disappearing. That is a human construct, not a spiritual one. Rules and regulations...

I believe everyone has a spiritual aspect, some are just more private about it than others. Their concept of God, or a Higher Power, may be different from those folks who belong to an organized religion. There is no right or wrong way, no good, best or better. It's what a person feels inside their own thoughts and soul. I do believe also, that belonging to a church should not feel like joining an exclusive club. I don't think God is going to blackball anyone if they don't jump through all the hoops. It doesn't work that way. The priest also spoke about how divisive religion has been through the years, and still is -- perhaps now more than ever. I did a post about that recently, and a lot of folks disagreed with me, but religion is divisive; spirituality is not. They are two different things. Faith is not about the rituals, it is about seeing the good in other people, and as the priest said, seeing good in all things. One of the guest speakers at Christ Church Cathedral is the world-famed environmentalist, David Suzuki. We need only to think of the horrors of the oil spill in the Gulf to see how greed and unGodliness can wreak havoc on our little green planet.

I once attended a wedding that took place on the edge of a forest. As the sun came around, it shone on a huge, beautiful golden spider's web centered in the trees. I looked at it and thought it looked exactly like a rose window in a great cathedral, with the sun shining through it.  I thought, "This is God's cathedral, and God is here at this wedding..."  You don't need a church or the rules and constraints to be a spiritual person.  That was the message in the priest's sermon yesterday.  He was telling the folks to go out and find God everywhere.  There are no rules.

23 comments:

The Bug said...

Love this post! It's what I've believed for many years & why the Southern Baptist church is such a BAD fit for me :)

Yesterday at church the minister was talking about how all of our stories are important & that we see God every day when we look into each other's eyes. We are God to a weary world - and it feels like we're not doing a very good job these days.

A.M. said...

Awesome post Johanna! :o)

lakeviewer said...

Beautifully said!

Land of shimp said...

That was a lovely post, indeed. I left the church many years ago because a variety of things, not the least of which was the treatment of women in many organized religions.

However, I understood both then and now, that that was a function of religion, not a function of faith.

I believe it was Gandhi who said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians."

heartinsanfrancisco said...

That is simply astounding from an official of a recognized church, and it gives me hope that eventually, all the divisive aspects of organized religion will be abandoned in favor of a true and inclusive spirituality.

mrsnesbitt said...

so wonderfully true Josie. Thank you. Dxx

myletterstoemily said...

it is not my place to judge anyone's
style of worship. i am responsible
to love the Lord with all my heart,
soul, and strength and others more
than myself and not to judge anyone.

that's hard enough for me. :)

DJan said...

I too don't go to any organized church any more, but I did for many years. I find that my relationships with loved ones fills me with joy, and when I go to church these days, it feels like an ordeal, not joyful. Perhaps for me it's also hard to have some evangelical Christians among my siblings, and I feel like I have to fend them off. And it makes me sad.

Whitney Lee said...

That's wonderful. If I could find a church that was like that I'd be more inclined to go back.

Katy said...

This is a message I have heard more and more from people of athority in various Christian streams.

I was listening to a nun speak a number of years ago and she said said something to the effect of Christianity lost its way when Constentian became a member.

Katy said...

Also... I wanted to add that the Cathedral looks beautiful.

Alicia said...

I really love the Ghandi quote by Land of Shimp, I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. I'd never heard that one before.

HAPPY IN NEVADA said...

I'd say a resounding 'amen' to what the pastor had to say.

I left the church and Christianity in 1968 when I found more hypocrites inside the church, than outside (at least among my friends and associates).

I'll live with the idea of being 'good', and have eliminated the idea of 'god'.

Good in spirit means 'no religion or church required'.

Amy said...

Jo, I'm just now catching up - have been absent for a time. This was a great post and it's good to hear that a Catholic sermon resonated. I agree with Alane and would add one other question I continually ask, "What would Jesus say, think, or do in relation to (whatever)?" Frankly I think he'd be horrified about much that has been attributed to him on many different levels.

Love your description of the wedding in the forest - personally, my church is my garden.

Kathryn said...

I love this post too. It is beautifully written, Jo.

I personally like liturgical services. The ritual is soothing & safe for me. I know i'm rather in the minority over that & many other people find ritual stiff & unyielding, pompous & cold. I suppose it can be so, but i've found it to be so healing.

I agree with 90% of what you say, especially about Jesus having freed the early Christians of many/most of the rules & laws. It didn't take centuries to put some of those laws back in place. Paul was the start, early on, but i think what happened was he was taken out of context later & so women were relegated to a back seat, just as they had been for centuries.

It makes me sad that churches bicker among themselves - NOT what Jesus would want, i think. A friend of mine said that when her children really start to fight with each other, her stomach just drops & she feels awful. She said (& i agree) that God must feel something like that when his children fight & start wars & are unkind to one another.

I'm not going to bash anyone else's beliefs or spirituality, but i do believe that it is clear that Jesus came to be our bridge to God & nothing/no one else will stand in for that.

I love the wedding in the forest cathedral. :)

lgsquirrel said...

Well, Jesus said that there were 2 rules. 1. love God with all your soul and 2. love others as you love yourself. He was certainly against rituals that enslave and divide rather than help to draw us closer to God or each other.

When accused of not obeying the rule of resting on the Sabbath by doing good deeds, he told his accusers that Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. i.e. God does and asks things that benefit us and not to enslave us.

Beautiful cathedral. Again a church should be there to serve its flock and not to revel in its own importance. This seems like a working church.

Cloudia said...

Amen!





Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

nomore said...

You're right, we can find the God every where...I agree with you...very very nice a post...rather than the bigger church...i think...thanks...

Firefly said...

I agree. Most churhes are getting older and older as the young people don't want to go anymore. A lot of the older people hang on to the old church traditions and its turning away the younger crowds.

kenju said...

AMEN! Although I now go to a contemporary service and enjoy it, I can find God in the details in nature more easily. My daughter;s wedding was on the lawn of a golf club at sunset. Just as we assembled for the ceremony, the sun started shining through the tall pines along the fairway and it was a spectacular light show. To me it said that God was there and approved their union.

Laurie said...

A very wise priest, indeed. Must learn more about this denomination. Lovely church, too. Thanks for the uplifting photos. :-)

Carla said...

Well said. I couldn't agree with you more! I was raised Catholic and I questioned everything. So much of it just didn't make sense to me. I have no need or desire for organized religion.

Have Myelin? said...

all i know is whatever happens in the hereafter has to be different than what we have now.

i lost my daughter a year ago so i am not sure what i think. when i hear the "jesus died for your sins" stuff i want to scream because my daughter died too. i don't expect the whole world to pay the price for it.

i know that is not what the message is about. i am speaking as a mother.

beautiful pictures by the way.