September 10, 2014

On Being 'Spiritual But Not Religious' I hear often that people are spiritual but not religious, or that they love Jesus but don't like the Church. I get it. But the antidote to a thing that has been misused or abused-- like religion and church-- is not no use, but good and proper use. So, the question worth asking might be, "What is the good and proper use of religion?" Or simply, "What good is organized religion, specifically Christianity, and, to be even more precise, the Church?" Some Christian writers are convinced that the best thing to do is to stop talking about Christianity and to emphasize following Jesus and not any sort of organized religion. But this won't do because there is no unscrambling this egg: Christianity as an organized Way of following Jesus exists, and has existed for a couple of millenia. (Arguably, those Christian writers are 'following Jesus' today because Christianity has existed-- as the preserver and proclaimer of the faith!) Others say, just leave out 'the Church', because, after all, Jesus didn't come to start an institution. Other than a re-reading of a key speech Jesus gave to Peter, this view ignores (either out of ignorance or otherwise) that the four Gospels came to us out of early Christian communities. They were some of the last New Testament books to be written, and the stories in it were preserved by...wait for it...churches. So if the Gospels contain some sort of anti-Church or anti-organized religion message, it would be news to the writers! I have recently been reading James Martin's (S. J.) marvelous book, 'The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything' and came across his warm and winsome discussion of being 'spiritual but not religious'. I've highlighted the parts that really stood out to me: The thinking goes like this: being “religious” means abiding...
The Communion Liturgy at New Life Downtown Every once awhile, I am asked what our liturgy is at New Life Downtown. Our service flow (in general) can be found HERE. But the most 'liturgical' part of the service-- i.e. the part that uses the ancient prayers, practices and sequence-- is when we come to the Lord's Table. While I am an ordained Anglican priest, I serve as a pastor at New Life Church, a non-denominational, charismatic church, where I have been on staff for over 14 years. Fortunately, a trademark of Anglican worship is its adaptability to different contexts. Almost all these words are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The only tweak I've made is in the way I announce forgiveness in the 'absolution' section. We have the band on stage during all of the below, providing a soft, worshipful bed of music. Once the invitation is given (the last section of the communion liturgy), the worship leader begins the song she has chosen for that week. From Easter to Advent, this is the longer section of musical worship, where we sing 4 songs. Below, the bold are the 'movements' or sections of the Eucharist liturgy; the italics are an abbreviated version of the instructions I give. ------------------------- CONFESSION (All): Take a moment and let the Holy Spirit nudge you about ways that you can surrender, ways that you can turn away from self-reliance and toward a dependence on God. Now, let us pray this prayer together: Most merciful God, We confess that we have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of Your...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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