I constantly encounter people who struggle, not so much with faith, though that's not easy but more with the ordinances and institution of religion. Countless folk who claim to be Spiritual rather than Religious. I have always been able to empathise with such people. Lets face it - the institutional church does not acquit itself well when given the opportunity to be open and affirming, contemporary or relevant. Indeed it seems pretty populated at present by defenders of the institution who would claim that it has no business being any of those things! It is difficult to maintain a sense of vocation to such an institution. And even more difficult when my call and the way I live out that call is dismissed not just by the institutional hierarchy (patriarchy) but by those embracing the next bright new shiny wave of trendy ministry. If it were not for that sense of vocation and the conviction that God is far removed from the restrictive narrow minded ness that seems to inhabit the institution at present I would be taking to the hills.
Thankfully the liberating, many hued, unfettered Spirit of God cannot be confined or boxed in by the pronouncements of institutions. That Spirit is still offered freely and graciously by a God surely swithering about whether to laugh or cry right now at the antics of "church". "Behold I freely give", proclaims God. Regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, rules and regulations.
Of course each vocation demands rigorous discernment and testing. But the life giving Spirit of God shows up in surprising ways and rarely within a closed and fettered institution, and the Spirit conferred in baptism is not a gift to be snatched back by an institution when it dreams up another set of rules that seek to confine and control.
Thankfully that whimsical, life giving Spirit keeps on showing up to provide encouragement and affirmation that the institution seeks to destroy.
In spite of the dinosaurs!
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