Monday, March 26, 2012

All Sinners Welcome

When I go home I'm definitely spoiled. Mom and Dad love to cook dinner(or even take me out to a nice restaurant that a typical college kid couldn't afford), my bed has clean sheets when I come home, I get to just lay around and not do much. But when I talk about being spoiled, I'm really talking about my church. If you haven't been to Washington University's catholic church, you really should go.

While on Spring Break this past week I went to church. My parents were out of town and Kelley and Maggie were busy with something else, so I put on a dress, hopped in my car and drove myself to church. I love to get there a little early and just watch. Sometimes the Catholic church is pegged as quiet, formal, and uptight, but the Newman center is anything but that. Sometimes it's hard to hear those with mics on because of everyone is talking to everyone. Each Sunday there is a Gospel question, last week's was "What is the worst thing you have ever done?" Well that shut us all up fast...

Father Gary started out his homily by saying to all of us, "you should be ashamed of yourself." But he turned it around by asking us if anyone has ever told us that, and if they have, they were wrong. Then he pointed out there was a sign that we all walked under to get into the church that says, "All Sinners Welcome". He had me hooked at this point. I was buying whatever he was saying because it was EXACTLY what I think the Catholic Church/any Christian organization should be. Father Gary was speaking about what I was here. We as humans aren't here to judge. We have all sinned, there's no doubting that. We are here to love. (1 Peter 4:8, Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins)

Gary spoke about shame being toxic to your soul, something I talked about here. Being ashamed makes you feel like something is wrong or bad about what you have done as a person. There should be no shame if everyone is a sinner. "There is a difference between shame and healthy guilt" Just because we sin, doesn't mean that we are meant to hide from the world, or the church. Our sin does not define us. What I think is great about Father Gary's homily is that he talks about his church WELCOMING sinners. Just what a church needs to do, welcome those that have sinned because if they didn't no one would be there to sit in their pews or even to give a homily.

What we do when we leave those pews is what counts. If we strive to change the path we once were on, THEN we can be without guilt for past sins.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Listenin' to that Jesus Music

Yesterday I was on my way back from campus and decided to check my mail. I'll admit, I know I don't get enough mail to check it everyday, but I always do in hopes that someday I'll get something. Well, yesterday was the day! It was my CD with all the music from the Passion conference that I went to this Winter Break.

I got so excited I tried to tear the cardboard appart, not even seeing the "tear here" sign on the back of it and once I got it out of the cardboard there was that pesky plastic cover that no one can ever get this point I was yelling at the CD because all I wanted to do was put it in my computer and listen to the songs! Finally, I got it open, and was able to listen and man was it worth all the frustration of opening it!

For those of you that don't know what Passion is, it is a conference of college kids(there was about 45,000 this year) that come together for a couple days to listen to speakers from all over and of course music from a handful of bands. I loved it. I advise everyone who can to go to Passion 2013!

Anyway, what really got to me about the CD coming in the mail were the memories from Passion. I was blessed with the ability to go to this conference and reunite with some wonderful folks I met while working at a Young Life camp this past summer. I loved that I kind of got a second chance for these people to see who I really was. If you know me, you know that I LOVE talking about you and your questions but hate having it turned around on me! I was guilty of that this summer, I think I got to know a lot of the people from camp but I realized once I left that they didn't know much about me. So Passion gave me a second chance to open up, to be me. And that's what I did.

Lacrae, a Christian Rapper(and a good one at that) was at the conference and he is very adamant about living life unashamed of the gospel. That got to me. Not that I was afraid by any means to share my faith or declare that I'm a Christian, which some people unfortunately are, but I wasn't doing much more to declare it than by wearing a cross around my neck. I wouldn't listen to Christian music in my car because I didn't want non Christian people to judge me for listening to "that Jesus music". Until recently, I didn't read my Bible in public because I didn't want to deal with the faces I would get in my direction. But why? Why did I limit myself so much?

As Lacrae declares in his music, on his clothing and in his words, Romans 1:16 says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile."

What I had been hiding, what I had been keeping to myself, is exactly what will save me. Why should I be ashamed of that? If nothing else, Passion taught me this; do not be ashamed of the one Being that will save you. I used to keep that part of my life private because I didn't want to intrude on anyone else's opinion or beliefs. But what if there is a person that is searching for someone to help them believe? Could I be that person? Same goes with why I keep a lot of my personal life private to those I love. I don't want to bother anyone with my "silly" problems. But who knows if there is someone out there struggling over the same thing? So I really tried to open up at Passion, tried to give myself fully to the Lord and open myself completely to those surrounding me.

You can find me blaring "that Jesus music" in my car, and reading my Bible at work(after finishing my homework of course!) because I will not be ashamed. My faith, which brings me so much joy, will save me one day. It really saves me every day, why did I ever think I needed to keep that to myself?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rely on the ultimate rule book

I went home this weekend...a much needed break from Fayetteville. Not that I don't love Fayetteville, but sometimes it's good to be back home! Saturday, as I tried to shove everything I could into one day, Mom, Maggie and I drove for about 35 minutes to watch my cousin Lauren play frisbee. Well, we drove the long way so we didn't even see Lauren play, we just caught up with her on the sidelines for 10 minutes or so before we had to turn back around to meet up with Dad for lunch.

On the ride there, Mom brought up an interesting topic. Recently, a St. Louis man was fired from his job at a Catholic school because he has decided to marry his male partner of 20 years. Homosexuality in the Catholic religion is seen as a sin. But is that reason enough to get fired from a job? As we were talking about this mom asked me when I thought it was appropriate to shy away from the church when I had differing opinions on certain things. Is it ok to still say you're Catholic even if you don't believe homosexuality is a sin? What do you do when your church supports something you don't?

Immediately I thought of this video (go it!) It's a four minute poem-turned-video that talks about the difference between religion and Christianity, or Jesus. Some of what the man says is out there, but for the most part, I agree with it. As I was talking to Mom, I said there are some things about the Catholic religion that I will always believe in; taking the blood and body of Christ, the apostle's creed, the tradition of a Catholic mass(no matter if it's boring or not!)

But there are some topics that I don't turn to the Catholic rule book but to the ultimate rule book: The Bible. I do shy away from Catholicism in some aspects because of it's "old" ways. Does the Catholic Church believe Homosexuality is a sin? Yes. Do I? No. I don't think I have the authority to judge a person by their sexuality so I can't condemn them. I am not here to judge, I am here to love(1 Peter 4:8). I will be saved from my sins because I believe in Him(John 3:16)

It doesn't matter what a person does. Yes, it is bad to go out and kill someone. In God's eyes it is just as bad to do so as it is to tell a lie. There is no 'greater' sin. What there is, is forgiveness and eternal life. God has forgiven me, forgiven you, forgiven everyone who believes in Him for every sin that I, you, they, will commit. He loves us that much.

So do I consider myself a Catholic? Yes. But do I search for my religion through their rules? Not all the time. Jefferson(the guy in the video, not Thomas) spoke about the church being a hospital for the broken, not a museum for the good people. A church should be where people who are broken, who are questioning should feel welcome, not shunned. It is my hope that people can see that I am just that. I am the embodiment of my church. I want to be the one someone goes to when they have questions, not to be looked upon as intimidating, or think I will judge.

I am broken, but I have found God.

From Matthew 10: 39 "Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it."

Are you relying on the church to answer your questions? Or through research of your own?