Monday, July 14, 2014

The worst disease

We start off the week this morning being chastised by God through the prophet Isaiah.

Trample my courts no more!
Bring no more worthless offerings;
your incense is loathsome to me.
New moon and sabbath, calling of assemblies,
octaves with wickedness: these I cannot bear.
Your new moons and festivals I detest;
they weigh me down, I tire of the load.

And why so harsh? It's not because the religious ritual itself is bad, but because it is not accompanied by a corresponding love of neighbor.

Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.

Once more we are faced with the disease most dangerous to all religious people, hypocrisy. In the temple or at Church we are religious, everywhere else we are just another average person.

Lately we have heard a lot of talk about hostility toward religion, and while religion has disappeared from the public square, I can't help but wonder if it is less the fault of some conspiracy and more the fault of us Christians.

Of those of us who applaud the Supreme Court for its decision in Town of Greece v Galloway, allowing prayer at city council meetings, how many of us bother to say blessing before we eat in a restaurant?

How many Christian families pray together at all? When you get to work before you start the day, do we pause to pray? Is there anything about our behavior that would indicate our religion to our co-workers?

If we hide our faith, why should we be surprised when over time it vanishes from society in general. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that we have to start with our own lives. We should attend church, we should participate in the Eucharist, but then we should also go out the door of the Church and proudly live our faith, caring for those in need, but making it clear that what we are doing is not mere philanthropy but Christian caritas.

The simple "have a blessed day" from the woman at McDonald's is a perfect example. I know from those four words said in passing that she is a woman of faith. It's not in your face, or confrontational. It is just an expression of her faith. Imagine if each of us just did one or two little things to make faith more visible in our public lives, consciously connecting church, home, and work.

If we hide our light under the basket, how can we complain about the attitude of others toward our faith.