The Christian church and the world around it are being rushed through a time of accelerated change, leaving people feeling a great need for security, peace, and stability. The church has always had an intent to provide sanctuary for the needy of mind, body, and spirit. People still seek out the church today, looking for answers to the deep questions of life. Those who come share a great diversity of experiences, background, values, and goals, both secular and religious. The central search for all, however, is for meaning.
But we run into a dilemma, the enhancement of self-awareness and self-understanding – or finding true meaning in life requires patience and thoughtful deliberation. Yet, it seems that those in the congregations today would much rather have someone tell them what to believe than to work through it for themselves. As many authors on the subject of Christian growth have noted, charismatic leaders draw tremendous support, but the individual’s developmental growth is not enhanced.
The United Church is not a creedal church, in other words, we do not have specific statements that relate to how an individual should live their life; nor do we believe that one person has all the answers. We do have the Articles of Doctrine or Faith, the 1940 Statement of Faith, the New Creed, and the Song of Faith, but these are guidelines to help us find our path on our journey of faith.
We believe that God’s Spirit works in each of us as we journey through life, helping each of us find meaning and purpose in life. However, as we come together as a community of faith we hear other understandings of Christian living. And as we listen to these perspectives our horizons are broadened enabling us to grow, and to face new challenges in life.
Learning new ways of living and interpreting Christian living may result in us having to let go of some of our preconceived ideas. This letting go often causes conflict or tension within us as we re-evaluate our beliefs; this is where the Christian community is important for support, and as a sounding board for our changing view.
And we as a community of faith must listen earnestly and intently to what others have to say. Not judging their points of view, but realizing that God works through each and every one of us, in a way that is meaningful to that individual at that particular point on their journey through life.
As we continue our journey as disciples of Christ;
may we grow in faith, love and understanding.
Rev. Peter W. Dahlin