I subscribe to the weekly letter from the Rev. Dr. James A. Harnish, author and pastor of Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa, Florida. This is a terrific, faithful congregation. If you live in the area, or are in the area, be sure to check them out.
In this week’s letter, Jim brought to light an important, disturbing trend in western society. Below you will find Jim’s remarks and a call to prayer. – Lisa <><
A front page story in “The Tampa Tribune” reported that one-fifth of the American public – and a third of adults under 30 – now indicate “none” as their religious affiliation. The majority of the “nones” say they are “religious” or “spiritual,” but they have either rejected, been burned by, or simply don’t see any need for their religious or spiritual life to be practiced in community with others.
That same day, I came across an address by Peter Jensen, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, which described the “deadly individualism” of our time. He compared it to Frank Sinatra singing, “I Did It My Way.” He called “undemanding, individualistic, homemade, sentimental spirituality” the “new religion” which “turns the human impetus to worship inward, toward the self.”
So, what could be more countercultural than Scripture? The Bible simply has no place for a totally individualistic relationship with God. Biblical faith is always personal, but it is never private. It begins in the transformation of our individual lives, but it is lived out in community with others. Worship draws us together from our inherent need to be in community with others and turns our attention away from ourselves and toward God.
That’s why John Wesley said, “‘Holy solitaries’ is a phrase no more consistent with the Gospel than holy adulterers. The Gospel of Christ knows of no religion but social, no holiness but social holiness.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 NRSV
Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Being privately spiritual but not religious just doesn’t interest me. There is nothing challenging about having deep thoughts all by oneself. What is interesting is doing this work in community, where other people might call you on stuff, or heaven forbid, disagree with you. Where life with God gets rich and provocative is when you dig deeply into a tradition that you did not invent all for yourself. - Lillian Daniel
Let us pray
Eternal God, You are One, You are Three. You live in beloved community and pass on this great blessing to us. Save us and save the nations from deadly individualism. Return us to You and to one another. Draw us out of our homemade worlds, our homemade tombs. Draw us forth into holy communion and companionship, into life that really is life. We ask this in the strong name of Jesus, the Name above all names, the One who makes us one. Amen.
What are you doing to build beloved community where you live?
For a post entitled Church as Family, click here
For a post entitled Trinity, Community, and Love, click here
For a post entitled Be the Church, click here
For a post entitled Quotes: Community, click here
For more information on use of the scripture, art and this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.