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Yesterday I sat with some colleagues and listened to a local pastor (who is well-respected and has published several books) talk about living without spiritual regrets.
One of his sermon illustrations went something like this:
A busy man who traveled for work (leaving early Monday morning and returning late Friday night) bought a lake house so that he could spend time with his family. The family spent their weekends at the lake house, not at “church.” The child loved Jesus and, we were told, was “saved.” The child wanted to go to church and asked his dad why they didn’t. The dad explained that this was their family time. Then the child was tragically killed in an automobile accident. And his father spoke of being haunted (and fearing he would be the rest of his days) by his son’s question. The point of the illustration was that we should avoid the regret of not investing in our children’s spiritual lives (presumably, by failing to get them to the sacred building on Sunday morning)–a regret this man obviously suffered and, by implication, rightly so.
That was pretty much it. I’m sure I might have misinterpreted, but I don’t think so.
I’m just gonna make this short and sweet. I don’t doubt that the man might have some spiritual regrets, but not getting his kid to a magical edifice at a magic time so that he could be magically processed through a magic program by magically-empowered religious professionals shouldn’t be one of them. Especially since his misplaced priorities resulted in the ostensibly spiritually-abused child spending more time with his parents and siblings.
I don’t much mind the Sunday morning regimen. And I have a modicum of respect for the institution. But neither is the Church. And, in my opinion, the biggest spiritual regret in this scenario should be that of the pastor who, from all that we were told, spoke–to his brother, the bereaved father, and to us, the listening body assembled to be edified with the truth of the Kingdom–with all of the amassed wisdom of Job’s friends.