Today I attended my nephew's confirmation at a United Church of Christ. Ironically, this is the church that I recommended to my sister-in-law when she asked where she should have her children baptized. I like this church because it is a small, local church. It has no stained glass, it is a very typical and quaint New England white board church. Very simple, as I believe that faith should be - no matter what your faith is.
Everyone who knows me, knows that I value faith. And though I may not believe the same as you, I respect your right to believe as you will, and enjoy discussing peoples' beliefs with them, without judgement.
During the church service this morning, I was very moved by what I heard the pastor say. They had a communion service. And since I am not a Christian, I do not partake in this ceremony as I feel it would be disrespectful to people who believe in this. But the pastor at this church remarked that she knew many people were there this morning to bear witness to these young people making a serious commitment to their faith. And she understood that many people in attendance may be of different beliefs. She wanted to assure those of us who were of a different faith, that we were welcome at the communion table. And she stated that God loves each of us for who we are in this moment, because we are who we are meant to be.
I will say, that is the nicest thing I have ever heard any clergy person say. It was said honestly, and embracing that there are many paths to the light we all strive for. She encouraged these young people to be true to their beliefs and assured them that as they grew, and their beliefs changed, they would still be loved without judgement.
I hope that this is true for all of us.
Faith is a powerful thing. Religion is something different. Faith is belief in the intangible. Science can debunk many things that we believe, and yet, we take the leap of faith to believe them outside of the scientific proof. Faith is love and compassion. Faith is warmth in the coldest places, and light in the darkness. And faith can be unshakable even in the most tumultuous times. Religion is the governing rules of faith. We all crave structure in our lives, and religion is a way to give structure to the intangible things that we have faith in. It gives us leaders to follow. And sometimes we follow those leaders blindly.
I hope that we all will come to a place where faith is what binds us together, and religion will not tear us apart. Many of our religious tenets are about having compassion for our fellow man, and often times these tenets do not state that we should have compassion for only those who follow the same religion that we do... instead, we are encouraged to have compassion (not pity) for ALL.
I have faith in people. In spite of tragedy, war, senseless deaths, murder and the series of crimes we commit against each other. I still have faith in people. I believe in love that is boundless and unconditional. And this morning, the light of my faith burned a little brighter when I was welcomed to a different table, with kindness and compassion. When I was embraced without judgement.