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What About Jesus?


annalisa
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So I'm at a crossroads and I thought I would come in and get some others opinions. But I guess you would all need a small bit of background.

 

I have been searching for "God" since I was 16 years old. Raised Catholic, I stopped going to church after my first commnunion after my parents divorce. It wasn't until I was 16 that I found the need for something more spiritual in my life. So I went on my search that would last until now, the ripe age of 45.

 

At 16 I was was "born again" and just as quick as I was, I was also scared away from the church I found, with their "your going to go to hell-fire-and -brimstone attitude" and really put off by the "Burn your rock albums because it's Satan" attitude. I dabbled in metaphysics, occult, paganism, wicca, judaism...you name it, I researched it. BUT I was always drawn back to Christianity. Ya know...Jesus is my homey! I do not believe a lot of the Dogma/Creed but the spirituality fits for me. Always have. But I don't fit in a mainstream church. My beliefs are different...pretty basic...one God, many names and many rivers leading to the same ocean. We don't burn in hell, Jesus is not literally Gods son, Bible was written many many years ago and translated so many times and you can't take it literal. That's my outlook at things. What do we really know anyway? I've had some intense spiritual moments. But I finally decided at the age of 24 that mainstream was not for me. Not after I was written to by my so-called best friend at my Baptist church not to marry the man I was dating because he was a heathen, yep that did it for me. By the way we been married 20 years now.

 

So now at 45 I live in an area that is quite conservative. Very mainstream Christian. I have been on TCPC for several years and always searched for a Progressive Church in my area. Nope, never could find one.They all seem to be up north. Then one day this last spring I open my yellow pages to look through the church section again and what do I find? A Unitarian Universalist Church in my area. A very small one of about 60 members that don'thave a church home but rent space. I've read quite often about the faith and decided to check it out. I loved it! The Reverend came from a Christian back ground and there were a bit of sermons in which Bible verses and Jesus was mentioned. But after being there many years he recently left to persue other avenues in his faith.

 

I must admit. I MISS Jesus. A LOT. In church, there's not a lot of Christianity anymore...lots of sermons about famous UU's but no Jesus. So a couple of days ago I did another search and found a church listed on this site! Yes, the excitement was more than I could bare! lol. The UU church I belong to now (Yes, I became a member pretty quick) is about 12 minutes away. The church I found that is a Progressive church is a real church (building wise) with a medium size membership (however many that is) and is about a 35 minute drive to another city by freeway. So I am guessing the membership is mostly in that direction. I have a very busy life outside Church Mon-Fri so I am there every Sunday and spend quite a few hours socializing which I think is important. I also belong to a womans group that meets once a month. I enjoy that. I know I can find these activities in most churches too.

 

So my crossroads is basically where I am now. Stay at a UU church that is not a Christian based UU or search out this new church that calls itself a progressive Christian Church? I love the UU church and the people there but something spiritual is missing for me. I know another member of the church that I had a heart to heart with skipped out one Sunday to attend a Methodist church because she felt something was missing too. I have made a commitment to this new church I belong to but something deep inside me wants more.

 

How important is Jesus to many of you? How important is ritual? How important is it to meet like-wise minds that believe in some of the things you do. It's very different not having to bring a bible to church or read verses in a sermon.

 

I miss Christianity. Is that weird?

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Hi Annalisa,

 

First, welcome to the forum!

 

To me it is important to find people who believe some of the things that I do, but only some of the things. I know that if I met someone just like me, we'd find each other intolerable. :lol:

 

I do understand what you mean. I visited a UU church once and found it kind of odd, not in a bad way - just that everything was modeled after a Christian church, but instead of hearing about Jesus, I was hearing about Thoreau. I understand that there is something in me that deeply identifies with the Christian archetypes. Right now I am really into exploring eastern religious traditions and Buddhism in particular, yet there is something that strikes me, say in a prayer like Thomas Merton's,

 

Christ, from my cradle I had known You everywhere,

And even though I sinned, I walked in You, and knew

You were my world:

You were my France and England,

My seas and my America:

You were my life and air.

 

That speaks to me about the presence and reality of God in Christ in a way that I cannot really put into words.

 

I might go ahead and check out the progressive church to see if it is to your liking. If the possibility is there, why not find something that you can really identify with.

 

 

Peace,

Mike

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Hi again annalisa and welcome again. Before I really start with the post I'd note that there is a Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship, and post the link here: http://www.uuchristian.org/[/u]"]http://www.uuchristian.org/, in case you might find the resources helpful. I've only given their site a cursory glance, though, literally Googled it right now having remembered the organization, and while they seem like a progressive group I'm not entirely certain about their agenda, so use with care. It is worth bearing in mind that Unitarianism started out as a dissident Christian group that, as the name implies, taught that God is One and only One rather than a Trinity and, as such, that Jesus was "only" the primary human Prophet/Teacher of the Christian faith and that the Holy Spirit is "only" an emanation from God rather than a separate Person thereof.

 

I'm not an active churchgoer currently but the church my wife and I currently attend on occasion is UU. It's been pretty good for us, particularly in that UU is more of an interfaith movement and can embrace both our spiritual paths. (She is Wiccan and I am a liberal Christian with views on faith similar to yours.) I hear you, though, about missing any sort of more than maybe occasional focus on Jesus in your UU experience. This is partially explainable in that UU in America has become more of an interfaith movement, embracing not only liberals from various faith groups, but groups one wouldn't ordinarily think of as religious such as humanists. Which mostly is fine by me; I think of the UUA's radical willingness to embrace this kind of diversity, as well as the human beings who bring the diversity as they are and wherever they're at on their individual journeys, as one of UUA's greatest strengths. However, this often puts congregations and ministers in a quandary as they plan worship and preaching, because these have to speak as well as possible to the fulness of that diversity, and that is not an easy task. Apparently your UU church at least some weeks responded by focusing on notable Unitarians and religious freethinkers (I assume these would include for example Emerson, Thoreau, Servetus, Paine, and Priestley) and that is fine in itself. All the five I mentioned are rightfully spiritual heroes.

 

But you still miss Jesus, who is also such an hero to you, and rightfully so. I often miss him too.

 

I don't have a full answer to your dilemma, but I do have two suggestions.

 

First, regardless of what church you choose as your primary home, do keep as many of your friends as you can from both places. More good friends is always a good thing.

 

Second, it's not wrong in my opinion to maintain one's primary membership in one place and participate in activities at the other insofar as time and energy permit. Maybe, for example, there's midweek Bible study at the PC you're considering. Go there in addition to Sunday worship at your UU church. I'm a bit more hesitant to suggest you alternate Sundays at either place, but perhaps it might work for you.

 

Finally, I definitely hear you on your past struggles seeking a PC church living in the South. I'm from Tennessee originally. My home area is actually comparatively blessed as against many Southern cities, but it's hard, and friends from earlier on your journey don't always understand.

 

God bless you. I hope this helps.

Edited by ParSal190
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Hi Annalisa, and welcome

 

I agree with ParSal, the people are the important thing, and you may find friends in both places. Maybe there's no need to see yourself as being at a crossroads. Im not a churchgoer now but grew up going partly to a Congregational church and partly to a Unitarian church with a neighbor. One of the most meaningful activities for me as an adult was a bible study group that was more or less interdenominational. I do know what you mean about missing the connection to Jesus in a UU service--it can feel more like philosophy than a personal / communal relationship to God. Also understand your not wanting a church thats too rigid on doctrine and creeds. Sometimes it seems the choice is between an approach thats too calcified or too watered down. When you ask how important is Jesus, and how important is ritual to me, Jesus and ritual are almost opposites. For a former Catholic, perhaps communion is something you need, I dont know. The only advice I can offer is to take your time.

Edited by rivanna
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When I lived in non Christian countries, I had the best Christmases ever because I went inward to encounter the soul and realized that it would never leave. These experiences gave me courage and I didn't even fear death, I lived in Iran during their revolution and Afghanistan when the Russians occupied it. With spiritual encounters it seems one only fears not living. Living everyday in this unity, one learns to project the inner experiences upon the outer layers of the mind. I chose Jesus as the outer symbol of this inner experience, he is with me, in me, and the light of the Christ consciousness that helps us to dispel any darkness in our days of disappointment. I love to read Eastern text because Jesus talks to me through them. They give very good techniques effective in facilitating spiritual experiences or raising of one's consciousness. The keys are within you, your spiritual encounters with Christ will only intensify with or without a church.

 

grandpawombat, you are so wise. Your advise is so practical.................may we all be able to see with such ease. Soma

Edited by soma
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Thanks so much Mike for your input.I loved the prayer very much and it hit home. I love my UU church and the people in it but it's also so important to have that support about you with others that are likeminded. The journey continues.

 

GrandpaW....funny you should mention this. The UU church Reverend was gay and the church I looked into I just happen to see the pastor was gay as well. What's funny is the Gay and Lesbian community is very important in my life for personal reasons that many don't know. So that even drew me closer to this new church because of that. Strange how something can influence you this way.

 

Thanks Parsal...I had known about that Christian based UU and even looked to see if there was a church nearby but there's not. The Reverend that just left us at our UU was from a Christian background. I only started going to this UU church in the spring and I learned that the Rev had given his resignation and was leaving in a few months. I was kind of bummed but I liked the church so I stayed. This was a pastor that had been there since the beginning of this UU church (9 years). But an option may be to try both on numerous occasions and see where I feel I am needed the most or lead to.

 

Thanks Rivanna! I'm like you. I think the people are the most important. I think having those that are likeminded is important. Who can I discuss Jesus with at my church? lol. And ritual is important to me. I never knew unil it was gone. I haven't been a Catholic in 35 years but I always loved going to my grandma's house and in her bedroom she always had lit candles and many saint statues. I have quite a few Jesus statues and pictures. I love the symbology. I always believed it's not about the religion of Jesus but being like Jesus in your heart and treating others as he did.

 

Thanks Soma. And I think this is why Jesus is so prevalent in my home. I want a reminder of who he is and was. I love reading and studying as much spiritual text as possible. In my early 20's I loved reading the Upanishads. I should pick up the collection and read again.

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  • 2 weeks later...

hi annalisa,

Our spiritual journey sounds very similar. I am too a non-practising catholic. I too have gone down many spiritual routes. I too can't forget Christ. I also (sorry to go on) was told not to marry my now husband who is Jewish and we have now been married for 17 years. I don't go to church anymore. I had a breakdown 12 years ago and was diagnosed with OCD and have been on medication ever since. But that was the making of me, as I am now longer a fundy and have the courage like you to believe that Christ is not the literal son of God, and other things. I am greatly encourage by Eckhart Tolle's teachings. Have you heard of him? I was going to a Quaker meeting house some years ago but i don't go anywhere now. I am waiting until i feel pulled to go somewhere.

well nice talking to you!

Godbless

Nutkins

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Hi Annalisa. I fell in love with Jesus when I was 12 years old at Vacation Bible School in a small Baptist church in upstate New York. I'm now 51. Where did the time go? But I have struggled all my life with continuing to find "Jesus in the Church." I am probably the odd-man-out here but, to be quite honest, after all these years I don't see much of Jesus in the Church anymore. And I have to admit that maybe a large part of my struggle is my understanding of Jesus.

 

Like you, I think Jesus was a human being, not "God in a man-suit." And I don't think he came to start a new religion called Christianity. I think his message was centered on calling people to become part of God's kingdom on earth where people loved God and loved each other in community. That's why, for me, the person of Jesus isn't important as an object of worship for my faith, but as someone who tried to help us remember what life was really about - connection.

 

The Church, IMO, turned Jesus into an object of worship and basically sidelined his teachings to another "dispensation," latching onto the teachings of Paul for their orthodoxy. Again, this is just my opinion. But this is one of the reasons I find it difficult to find "Jesus" in the Church. He is worshipped as God there, but not much followed as a "pattern" for loving God and loving others.

 

Therefore, going to church is, for me, like eating watermelon. I put a chunk of it in my mouth, but then have to spit out the bad seeds. ;) Or it is like cherry-picking. For me, it is often more work than it is worth. As I said, I am probably the odd-man-out, but I find the "spirituality of Jesus", not so much in Church, but in a planetarium show, or walking through nature, or in a movie like "The Blind Side," or in chatting with a close friend who accepts me just as I am. When I go to church, it is because I support my family (who are Southern Baptist Christians), not to find Jesus there.

 

Perhaps a good question to ask is, what about Jesus is it that you are looking for? Or, what is it about Jesus that still attracts you? Almost every church that I know of offers "Jesus" to people, but Jesus is a slippery guy and everyone has their own views about him, myself included. This is, IMO, why we have (at least) four gospels - everyone sees Jesus through a different lense.

 

Anyway, I wish you well in your search. I hope that the Jesus that is in your heart will lead you to other people with the same.

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Annalisa,

 

I, too, have learned over the years that I'm a Jesus fan, and I don't think there is anything wrong with seeing God best in the person of Jesus. I have not been a big fan of ritual in the past, because sometimes it is lacking in intention, but I attended our traditional service this Sunday in addition to my usual "alternative" worship and found that some of the ritual was comforting and even exciting.

 

Easy for me to say "check out the other church", not as easy for you to have to do it. It sounds like your friends in the UU church are not open to discussions about Jesus anymore after the old pastor left. It sounds like your heart is calling you to try this new church. It won't hurt anything to try it for a bit, will it?

 

You're definitely not weird for finding something special in Christianity! I wish you lived in Colorado, because I would talk Jesus with you.

 

Janet

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G'Day Annalisa,

 

I don't post much these days but your search really spoke to me. Have a couple of thoughts, for what's it worth, but all that comes can be summed up with this sentence: To be a follower and adherent of Jesus, however you define that, does not mean being a follower and adherent to a particular church, though we must be open to the construct that sometimes the latter can surprisingly help you find the former!

 

I would recommend, highly, you seeking out a course called 'Living the Questions'. Here is a link to an introductory video:

It is a wonderful exploration of what PC is and how one can be a Christian in an inclusive, tolerant and socially responsible way.

 

Second point relates to your explorations of other faiths. I too have explored many of the diverse paths to the Divine and I think the Pluralistic aspect of PC is something we should be quite proud of. My attitude has changed somewhat since I first began down my PC journey. I then felt that all faiths were valid and all represented reflections of the Divine. That hasn't changed totally truth be told. But I have now reached a point when I can say, without hesitation, that, like Borg, I feel that Jesus was the FULLEST revelation of God, what I call the Limitless Divine. Not the ONLY revelation, but, for me, the fullest. As I am a follower of Jesus, this makes sense, just as Buddhists would believe that Buddha was the fullest revelation for them, etc. But a dialogue with and learning from other faiths is vital, and I personally hope you continue to explore these faiths.

 

Thirdly I just wanted to say that there are as many PCs as there are Anglicans or Catholics etc. Some are sacramental, some mystical, some SBNR, some of dual-paths, some are more comfortable with fresh expression of worship like concerts etc, some feel more comfortable in small groups, there are a myriad of 'types'. I am a 36 year old Anglican that sits, with my eyes closed, listening to a choir and participating in a Eucharist at a 'High Church' service every Sunday while my wife and son are at Sunday School in the hall. The Rector has a very progressive theology, but a love of the 'bells and smells' of a sacramental liturgy. And I really enjoy it! What sets PC apart from other areas of Christianity is that we don't just 'accept' these differences, but bask in them. Vive le Difference is alive and well in PC. What does that mean? It means that you should feel no guilt, whatsoever, in seeking an experience that 'fits', at least for the most part.

 

Finally, I want to talk about embracing Jesus whom you miss. This can be done with or without a Church. As is spoken of in the Living the Questions programme, one can walk a labyrinth, join a Lectio Devina group, participate in social action groups, join a Christian Meditation group, there are many ways to worship and connect with Jesus without necessarily sitting on a pew on a Sunday. But what I would recommend is to just find some time to be still and silent. And pray! You can see this as a transcendental communication with a metaphysical Christ, which is how I see it, or you can see it as a centering of oneself, take the first step of just being still, and quiet, and recommencing a relationship with Jesus and the limitless divine that way.

 

Having said that, some find Jesus in a church environment, it would be foolish to deny this. I don't really know too much about the UU. From what I have heard however a great many on this message board alone get a great deal from it. I guess the point I would make is that there is no reason you can't continue to attend the UU and seek a greater relationship with Jesus outside of those services, as Janet hints at. However, if you are seeking a Church experience that is Jesus centered, explore progressive and gay-friendly churches, absolutely, this is a good and noble pursuit to find the CHurch that touches your soul. Finally, and ultimately, I believe that if one makes a faith decision to open that door and allow Jesus in, all else will fall into place with time and exploration. That is the ultimate PC mission, explore, question, seek, and allow yourself to be transformed by the questions, not by absolute answers.

 

Hope this helps, I have gone on haven't I?

 

Adi

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  • 3 months later...

Like you,

 

I was brought up as a catholic and never really got anything at all out of it. The services were all in Latin which I could not understand a word of.

 

It wasn't until I reached the age of 40 that I realised that I needed something spiritual in my life so I began to read the bible. On reading the new testament, I realised that Jesus was the role model that I had never had.

 

Personally, I don't believe that it is the church building that is important. I remember Jesus's words to his disciples, "where 2 or 3 of you gather in my name" (by his name, I mean his teachings). I hold to this and don't personally belong to any particular church where they meet in a building. I have been to various churches over the years but have found them to be religious which I am not.

 

I suppose that it's a case of horses for courses, and we all have to find something that works for us.

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