May 25, 2008

For the First Time in My Life I found the Meaning of Christianity!

(It was at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Willmar, Minnesota. :)

by Glenn

For most of my life religion has been a dull experience, a weekly hour of day-dreaming, after which I left the church feeling no better than before I arrived and often worse. Prior to discovering your church, there has only been one primary difference between my more recent weekly non-religious experiences and those of my childhood: My mother is no longer around to reprimand me for my obvious boredom and inattention!

Out of curiosity I stopped by your church last fall. What drew my attention at first was your book discussion group along with the book under current discussion titled The Great Turning by David Korten. It was all about what it would take to “turn this world around” to permit real equality amongst our society - or in other words have a world that truly lives in accord with Christian principles. The discussions were thought provoking and I came to realize that in no other church would I have found this particular book along with such meaningful concepts to inspire me. Subsequently, we read and discussed the book Our Endangered Values by our former President, Jimmy Carter. The discoveries for me here are views of the world from “a leader of the world” with a truly Christian perspective. As a result, I began to see Christianity in a new and appealing light, one that is truly challenging and inspirational. Nowhere else would I have made such an important discovery. (I have since obtained two more of Jimmy’s books. They are great for evening-reflective reading. One of these days I may write a letter to humor him a little. With the church's permission, I will use your UU stationery.)

The weekly array of guest speakers has been a broadening experience, an opportunity to hear and consider many perspectives on life and the world. Some of the best were those of our own members who shared their personal hearts and minds - examples of true courage in my view. The various Unitarian ministers who visited and shared their views have been especially fascinating. What an opportunity to experience real intelligence. Most amazing of all has been their kindness in treating me (and everyone else) as an equal during the luncheon social hour following the service. They even showed respect (didn’t flinch) when I expressed a few of my misguided opinions. Of course, they had a knack for offering an answer in the form of a suggestion that was well worth my consideration during later more reflective moments. (I can about imagine what would happen if I “sprang” certain personal views on a pastor in another church! “Excommunication” might be too mild a term!) Heaven forbid, maybe these Unitarian ministers are actually following the examples of a certain person we have read about in the New Testament!

It is my understanding that the real meaning of Christianity is “living by the Golden Rule”, “loving others as ourselves”, and “treating others as equals”. These principles are alive, well, and practiced every Sunday both during our discussion groups and during the social hour following the service. Everyone is welcomed. Everybody is encouraged to participate. Everyone from whatever walk of life is respected. “Christianity in action” in my view!

Most will agree that Jesus was an adventurous person who lived life “on the edge”. What is all too often understated in most churches and somewhat obscured in the Bible is that Jesus HAD a sense of humor. This is obvious because without that he could not possibly have had such a following. Few will disagree that the ability to entertain is an overriding motivational influence. Thus, it is only fair to use these same criteria in the selection of a truly “Christian” congregation. Are Unitarian Universalists adventurous? Do they live life “on the edge”? Most importantly, have they a sense of humor? Well, leave it to this UU congregation to do something NO other church would ever consider. They elected me of all people to their Board of Directors! Need I say more?