Easter Morning Services
Sunday, April 16
9:00a.m. and 11:00a.m.
Becoming a minister in our church denomination, I never thought that part of my role would be “Bringing people back to the Lord,” but in an interesting way, it has become one of the most fulfilling parts of my ministry.
To me, our church stands between two types of exclusivism. One, is the kind of religious exclusivism that demands belief in Jesus for salvation. The other kind dismisses everything to do with Jesus all together.
I have met so many “ex church goers” in my time here in Seal Beach. Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, Protestant, etc. So many have an unfortunate story about the rigidity or judgments of “types of people” that caused them to leave their church. Sometimes I’ve felt our church isn’t just a new kind of spirituality, but a home for religious refugees.
Our church is all about inclusion. We welcome not only individuals into our church, but also the unique faiths that come with them. We believe in the central messages of Jesus. We believe there is great wisdom in the scriptures. We believe this wisdom is not for some based on their religion, but for all.
What I love doing as a minister, is to take people who grew up with Jesus, but had to leave the church because of its rigidity, or judgment, or lack of critical thinking, and to “Bring them back to the Lord.”
Through talks and classes, I love exploring the figure of Jesus with a “beginner’s mind.” It’s been precious for me, to see so many people come back to what was best about their childhood faith, and evolve it even more.
I love to see eyes get wide at teachings like. “The kingdom of God will not come if you watch for it. Nor will anyone be able to say, ‘It is here’ or ‘It is there.’ For the kingdom of God is within you.” Or, “Don’t judge and you will not be judged. For in the same way that you judge people, you yourself will be judged.” Or, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
I also love introducing the Jesus of inclusion and unconditional love to folks who perhaps weren’t taught that kind of Jesus growing up. In my own explorations of Jesus, I am each time reawakened to his powerful message, that was not only revolutionary for his time, but for ours.
I love looking back at our pasts, to find the best of them to live onward with, letting what no longer serves us go, but re-enlivening what does, and using it to better our lives.