Simple Faith and a Soaring Spirit

Oct 20th, 2008 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

You may have noticed that this column took the weekend off. Well, its author anyway. There were two reasons. One, I just wanted to see if you would miss Senior Moments and two, we participated in a twentieth year anniversary celebration of the founding of a church in Tucson, Arizona. It was our joy and privilege to be the organizing and founding pastor of Desert Skies United Methodist Church.

It was a lot like seeing ones child all grown up, past the tensions and throes of adolescence and on the road to a respected and well defined maturity. It has built out its need for space for worship, education and recreational activities. It is vibrant in its appeal to volunteers, its caring ministry is superb, its music program excellent, its spirit alive and energetic. The current senior pastor, Dan Hurlbert, leads with a steady hand. Members, new and old, take on their roles and responsibilities with vigor and dedication.

If I weren’t retired, it would be the kind of church I would want to serve. It is a Church with compassion and caring as its principal reason to be. It does not allow stiffness, but encourages openness and friendliness and giving definition to one’s faith. Churches like Desert Skies emphasize service, inclusion and tolerance.

*Service: members of churches like this spend a lot of time giving of themselves to others; a small flea market at Desert Skies 20 years ago that raised enough money to buy a computer for the church office has now grown into a $60,000 to $80,000 enterprise that supports a number of not-for-profit agencies in the community serving women, children, impoverished and disadvantaged people;
*Inclusion: although Desert Skies is located in a mid to upper middle class community, the congregation includes people of every social class, every skin color and almost every ethnic group in the country;
*Tolerance: all who enter the doors of churches, synagogues and mosques everywhere in this nation should be welcomed with loving open arms!

In short, religious bodies worth their salt affirm a healthy, productive, clear commitment to just being “good people.” One shouldn’t need to fit a mold, or declare some narrow set of belief systems, or be colored all one shade, or defend any “this is the way it is and that’s all there is to it” way of doing things.

I don’t know where you go to church, if you do. But I would recommend searching for one that allows stretching and growth and development and challenge and fulfillment and a healthy belief and faith system. When you have found that, if that is your cup of tea, you will have found what it means to be a part of the “priesthood of all believers.”

By the way, if you are or want to be a whole person, the church or synagogue or temple or gathering place you choose, doesn’t have to be labeled as Methodist or Christian or Unitarian or Hindu or Muslim or whatever. It just needs to be a place where you can feel your spirit soar, to love justice, seek peace and walk humbly with that spirit that reaches deeply into your heart.

That, after all, as simple as it is, is what faith is all about. Shalom!



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