NO BULL--In 2011, our early Christmas Eve service at Christ Church Quaker Farms was interrupted by an escaped bull from a local farm. The runaway animal ran within just a couple feet our church, just as communion was being distributed. As he ran down Rt. 188, he was pursued by the police, the owner, the fire department, an ambulance, and other locals who decided to follow.
Back at church, even though the sanctity of the moment was disrupted,everyone had a good laugh. After all, the Christ-child was born in a barn, where "the cattle were lowing."
No bull--holidays, or originally known as "holy days," are important. Holidays can help us re connect with our spirituality. Polls show that 90% of Americans profess a belief in "God" or a "Higher Power." But, far less actually attend houses of worship on a regular basis. Why? Because one way or another, many have come to the conclusion that organized religion is a bunch on BULL. Certainly, through scandal, immorality, political activism, intra religious in fighting, and irrelevance to the young, institutionalized religion has failed many people. Also, negative memories from child hood and/or ridicule from the public square have 'painted' all houses of worship with 'the same brush,' leading to suspicion and questions about all religion.
However, not all houses of worship are the same, just because they may look like one another on the outside. Indeed, all churches, synagogues, mosques, meeting houses, etc., are each different, just like all people are different. The Hebrew scriptures tell us that people make judgements based on outward appearances, but the Lord looks at the heart. (I Samuel 16:7). The heart of the house of worship is not the building; rather, the heart is the people on the inside.
The fact is, there are many vibrant, welcoming, harmonious, inspiring, and relevant houses of worship. How do you find them?
1. Ask someone you know about his/her house of worship.
2. Check out web info, and go visit during the holidays. If you discover too much bull, then try some where else.
Throughout history, those who have believed in a "Higher Power" have always gathered to learn, support, and encourage each other. Indeed, in many cases that Higher Power can be more powerfully encountered in the gathering of those who share a common faith, especially on the holidays.
Maybe its time to seek those people out during the holidays.
The Rev. John A. Donnelly
Christ Church Quaker Farms
470 Quaker Farms Road Oxford, CT. 06478