The Power of the Religious Community

Unrelated to our current sadness, someone on twitter posted this dreck: “Religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who have already been there.” My first comment was “Religion is for people who live in community.” Today, this week I know more than ever that power of not just community, but the religious community. We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support on Twitter and on Facebook. We can criticize these venues all we like (and I like to) but this week it has been a way for family and friends around the world to share in our grief and bring us love and prayers.

I am often the first to remind folks how trite quoting scripture can be in the face of tragedy. Spending more than a dozen years working on Lamentations has that effect on you. Yet I know too that I need to hear the verses, I need to be reminded of God’s grace and the power of the resurrection. Over a year ago our town lost a beloved pastor. He wrote a final, beautiful column in the paper. I encourage you to read it again, as I did: Heaven is a Riot. I will not pretend to fully understand what happens when we die, but I will put my faith in Christ. I will not pretend to be happy, I am as angry and sick as I have ever been in my life, but I will try to put my faith in God. I remind myself, as I remind students in class, Job demanded a response from God. What God said, didn’t matter, it was the fact that he responded. We are waiting to hear from God. And we are, at least on some level, hearing him through our community of faith.

But I want our boy back.

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