[This is from The Word--the weekly newseltter at University Baptist Church]
Last week, in this column, I asked, “What is the most important question in the world today?” The point of the question is to stimulate our thought. We can explore questions like these together. As we explore, we can invite other people to join the voyage of discovery with us.
The church is a place of significant things. We come to church at important times of life. We come for weddings and funerals. We experience baptism and celebrations. And, if we open our hearts, we can find God at church.
So, what is the most important question? How can we transcend those significant events (i.e. baptism or funerals) and experience transformation? This is a quest for meaning and relevance. What means the most to the most people? What question challenges everyone? What question has universal implications?
Ecclesiastes 5:1 says, “To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools.” Richard Foster talks about this “sacrifice of fools” in Celebrating Discipline. He writes, “The sacrifice of fools is humanly initiated religious talk” (p. 99). Instead of making a sacrifice of fools, we can seek true faith in God. Instead of human-focused religion, we can look for transformation. Asking about important questions and significant things is part of the journey toward transformation.
We are blessed and cursed with activities. In the last four weeks, we have hosted an academic lecture series and held multiple Holy Week worship services. There was a family work day. The first pre-OIAM event went wonderfully at Community Bikes (and provided a witness for Christ in an unlikely place). We joined together for a world trade simulation to experience social (in)justice. Jubilate performed a homecoming concert, and we are only days from the 45th Jubilate Reunion Weekend!
Are all of these activities life-giving? Or, do we succumb to the temptation of organized religion? Do we veer dangerously close to a sacrifice of fools? The youth are planning an upcoming worship service and told me that they want something meaningful. I do too! Every week, worship should be meaningful and life-giving. Each activity should celebrate our risen savior and reflect God’s light in the world.
Let us continue exploring significant things. Let us create a safe place to pursue these important questions, other people will join us in our pursuit. Let us make an honest assessment of our activities. If we find one that is not life-giving or transformative, let us seek to recreate it or let it go. These are exciting times to join God’s work in Charlottesville! I cannot wait to see where God leads us!