Rules

One of the coolest parts of my job is speaking with people who have never been to an Episcopal church before. A couple of days ago, one such woman contacted me saying that she had some questions about our church and would like to pay us a visit. Happily I said, “Come on over!”

She had been raised in another denomination, a very strict group of believers whose hierarchical rules dictated the whole of her spiritual life.  She was raised on a steady diet of, “You have to believe this.  You can’t believe this.  And don’t you dare question!”  Wanting to know if that was how we operated at St. Alban’s, I gave her my classic formula: “If you aren’t asking questions, then you’re not thinking.  And if you’re not thinking, then you’re being a slug.  And slugs don’t do anything.”

Relieved by my answer, we started a short tour of the church.  As we approached the altar she stopped dead in her tracks with a bit of worry and a bit of joy on her face, and asked, “Am I allowed up here?”  It was my absolute joy to exclaim, “Of course you are!  The church belongs to us!  This is our altar!”

Jesus told people to follow him, to come and see, to eat and drink what he has to offer – he wasn’t into following human rules that extinguished the flame of love.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”?  All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings.  These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence.  Colossians 2:20-23

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