Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Religion

So I was thinking about the question "What Religion are you?" and how often (at least among Christians in the U.S.) that question actually means "What church do you go to?" or really, "What demonination of Christianity do you claim?" I understand the question... we often see a vast difference between Baptists and Presbysterians and Methodists... and as a member of a more obscure one, the Church of Christ... who was taught we are NOT actually a "denomination", but actually "the one true church"... it was extra hard for me to ever answer that question as a child. :-) Really, though.... what the rest of the world sees is just one religion... Christianity, as opposed to Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or any others. And we really have more in common than we do in differences. And that' just how I see it.

I don't think that really has anything to do with what I am about to say, though. Ha ha. I am just supposed to blog on the topic of "religion" this week and that is my way to cover that base, I think. Because what I want to say isn't about what "religion" I am... but about what church I grew up in and still attend and how I think that identifying with a particular church can be a good thing. This train of thought started when I joined a group a couple days ago on Facebook called "The 728B Fan Club". Now, if you didn't grow up in the Church of Christ, you have no idea what that means, I suspect. If you did, then you are probably singing in your head right now- trying to hit those REALLY high notes in your dreams, since you can't in reality. :-)

And I started to think about all of our little Church of Christ "inside jokes" and how I guess most churches probably have their own. Even though I grew up in Michigan, most of my friends at church down here in Alabama know the same jokes, just for having been in the Church of Christ. We are all MOTC (Members of the Church) and we know which church that refers to. Ha. :-) We all know why we don't have instrumental music, but no one really knows why, if you know what I mean. We know that the contribution is "separate and apart" from the Lords's supper, even though we always do those two "acts of worship" back-to-back. And it goes on. Also, there are jokes I share with those I grew up with... like... every time I hear the song "Each Day I'll Do"... I insert "to meet Berniece" in place of "to meet the deeds"... which was the nickname of my childhood friend, Denise. And it's funny (at least to me)... and that's sort-of nice, I think. In all families, there are traditions and they serve to bond the family together.

Also, recently, a friend at church just came back from a far away mission field and her husband found a job at a church that is closely related to the Church of Christ, but is not a Church of Christ. She talked about how weird it will be to switch to a new tradition that way... where the people don't know the same things she does, or identify with the same christian colleges, that sort of thing.

I think sometimes "traditions" get a bad wrap because of the way that they tend to take over and become the "main thing" when really Christ is the main thing. Sometimes we can't see Christ through the traditions, I guess. And that's sad. Sometimes, I suspect, newcomers can feel excluded when they don't get the inside jokes. Obviously, we have the example of the Pharisees to look at to see what "traditions gone wrong" looks like and I have seen these tendencies in my life, my church and the lives of those I know.

But, kept in perspective, I think traditions can actually be a healthy, beneficial thing. They can be a way to laugh at ourselves (always fun), to feel comfortable with our church family, to form a sense of family identity and to find common ground with others who believe the way we do. For its shortcomings, it would be very hard for me to ever think of leaving the Church of Christ. It is part of who I am- my heritage. And I hope that honors Christ. I think it does.