Unfortunately, my computer wasn’t up to par last Monday and weather kept us home this Sunday. That means that what you’re reading today was heard a week ago Sunday, and I’m just using it now. I really don’t think God will mind, do you?
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On that Sunday morning, the message focused on experiencing your faith and how you do that. Once again the children’s message dovetailed into the adult message. The young ones were asked what the word “amaze” means. There were many great answers, most of them on point, but my favorite was a well shouted “mommy,” followed by soft chuckles from the congregants.
However, the transition into the adult sermon brought a new view of the word “amaze.” Reference was made to an op-ed column by David Brooks in the NY Times. The column, titled “Alone, Yet Not Alone,” began with references of “hostility against orthodox religious believers in America today, especially among the young.”
Then Brooks pulls out all the stops by quoting from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel‘s book, God in Search of Man. (Note: Rabbi Heschel lived 1907-1972, many decades before the “hostility” Brooks refers to.) And here Brooks quotes Rabbi Heschel:
Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement…get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal. …To be spiritual is to be amazed. [Emphasis mine.]
“To be spiritual is to be amazed.” Imagine the feeling of that kind of spirituality. Or living life in “radical amazement.” But isn’t that what we should be about? Wouldn’t that kind of living show the world just what our relationship with Our Heavenly Father is really like?
When did you last feel amazed at something God provided for you or your family? Or what about the things He does among your membership at your church?
I am amazed constantly at the number of young families joining our membership. Why you might ask? Because we are a congregation that enjoys among its membership centenarians at the top of the pyramid, only a few, and then our pyramid cascades down through those of us who are retirees and grandparenting age with a few great-grandparents in the mix, into those working toward a retirement date not too far off. After that, the gap widens considerably. So, how do we attract the younger families?
We support with great enthusiasm a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) program in our facility. Almost a decade ago eight young mothers ask the church to charter this group, and what began as eight members on two Friday mornings a month has blossomed into at its height near 70 members and most recently 50+. Amazing, isn’t it? And some of those mothers have brought their families into membership with our congregation. Even more amazing.
And yet … according to Heschel, many of us express a faith that is often boring, dull, and even insipid, and where:
… faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion.
Let’s remember Heschel was writing these thoughts and opinions in 1976, the year of publication of his book.
Are we reflecting our faith in this way? If so, we are not giving God the glory. We are not standing amazed in His presence nor expressing that amazement to others. Others who need to hear His Word, see His Word in action, and sense His Word is the basis of our very lives.
Micah 6:8 teaches us that loving mercy means loving everything, and this kind of love is what Jesus is all about:
The Lord has told you, human, what is good;
he has told you what he wants from you:
to do what is right to other people,
love being kind to others,
and live humbly, obeying your God.
Q4U: What are you doing to “live life in radical amazement?” Or to be spiritual in a way that “is to be amazed.”