Advent Day 17: joyless faith

Well, it only took a few days for the religious folk to come out and say that Friday’s mass shooting was because of gay marriage and abortion. And then there’s Westboro… always showing up at awful times to say awful things in awful places. It seems that some branches of Christianity exist only to make non-adherents miserable.

I don’t like playing the “us” and “them” game between myself (and my friends) and other Christians. At some point “we” are “them”, whether we like it or not. But I wonder if something is missing for people whose faith seems to be based off of calling others unworthy, unclean, and unredeemable. If your faith is based off of making people feel less than, than what you’re feeling isn’t joy it’s pride. If your faith is based off of exclusion, then you’re missing the joy of being a part of a larger, broader community. 

I don’t want a joyless, angry faith. I don’t want to build walls around myself. I don’t want a faith that is rote memorization and dead ritual. I don’t want to be a part of a community motivated by guilt and shame. 

I want a joyful faith. To me joy comes from a width and depth of relationships. I want a faith that celebrates all that life has to offer and that invites all of God’s people to do the same. There’s no joy for me in thinking or believing that anyone is left out of God’s party. My joy comes in knowing that God’s circle is ever expanding, ever growing, ever widening. I want to be a part of a faith community that is unpredictable, vibrant, and enlivening. 

If people experience God as joyless, boring, or harsh then we have failed. My God is the God of joy, inviting all to dine at a table of love and acceptance. My God feasts, toasts, welcomes, invites, and accepts. This is the joy the world needs to know and experience. 

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