Organized religion – these words are often spoken with disdain in Canadian society, and for good reason.
A friend of mine was so shocked and disgusted at what has been and continues to be done in the name of religion, after his job with the UN Peacekeepers stationed him in Jerusalem, that he basically thinks organized religion should be illegal.
I can see his point.
The clash of the Christians, Jews and Muslims in that part of the world has been bloody and has gone on for millennia.
So why do I not only belong to an organized religion, but have dedicated my life to it as an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada?
Probably because I am a hopeless optimist who believes in the beauty of what could be.
That’s also the reason I vote in every election, in spite of continual disappointment in our elected government.
I know the journey we are on is far from perfect, and never will be perfect in my lifetime, but I will not let that stop me from striving for better.
From time to time, I see glimpses of the beauty that could be, in the now.
I see children connecting to elders. I see people slowing down and making time to connect with God and community.
I see alcoholics beating their addiction and healing from past pain through faith in a higher power and connection to people who care.
I see people banding together and working towards justice for those who are suffering.
I see people supported by others in times of need.
This is the work of organized religion.
None of us can fully fathom God or the vastness of the universe, so if there is one thing we know about religion, it’s that we all have at least some things incorrect.
Our understanding of the divine is at best, incomplete.
The organized part is where we can go either very wrong or very right.
There is power in people joining together for common ideals, and power is always dangerous.
But power can change lives for the better, too.
Intentionally talking about matters of the spirit and our relationship to the divine and one another, and creating space to do so, is a start towards tapping into that power, to live more whole lives, as individuals and as community.
Thanks for joining me here in such conversation.
Reverend Robin Murray
Castlegar United Church