Good News – Raised Catholic episode 16

The following is a transcript from the Raised Catholic podcast. To listen to the podcast, click here.

Today is episode 16: Good News

Well, Happy Easter, everyone!  I hope you had a beautiful day with your dear ones. Um, okay, so in last week’s episode on sin, I told you that this week we would talk about grace and we will do that next time, I promise, but on today’s episode I want to address something that has become so clear to me this week and maybe it has to you too. We have reached an inflection point for the Church in America.

In the days leading up to and through the Triduum I heard more and more from people who are conflicted about church.  They’re sad, angry, frustrated and confused at the things they hear and experience from church and from many church people and they’re having a hard time relating all of these things to the loving God they know.  These people are Catholic and Protestant, long-time church goers who want relationship with God but are actually not sure where to find Him anymore. This past year has revealed the Church to be more broken than we thought, much more interested in power and politics, and much less about compassion, serving the poor and welcoming the stranger.  This last year has done a lot of damage, and according to recent statistics, people are leaving the institutional Church in droves. 

How the Church responds to the flock in this time will tell the story of what’s to come. And I hope that the great gift of Jesus this Easter will help those in leadership to remember His Great Commission, you know, where He told His followers that their whole goal was a wide and diverse net – not the small and homogenous Church many are building these days. He told them to go out to the whole world to make disciples, not just to a few like-minded people.  And I hope they’ll remember the instruction of Paul in the first letter to the Corinthians, where he espouses becoming like the people that we are serving, whether slave, or Jew, the weak ones, and those not under the law, in other words – every kind of person, in order to win them for the sake of the Gospel.   I hope they’ll internalize Pope Francis’s vision of the Church as a field hospital. 

Remember when he said,

“The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. … And you have to start from the ground up.”

Well, evangelism in the way that Jesus, Paul, and Pope Francis describe it is a model of humility and the fruit of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Do you hear these coming from the religious leaders that you’re listening to these days? Thank God there areleaders who are evangelizing in this way both in person and online, and the fruit of their work is evident. But unfortunately, many of the louder public voices simply are not, and their fruit is also apparent.

So maybe you’re thinking…okay but this episode is called Good News, right? So where is it?

Well, I’ll tell you. At the same time of this inflection point in the Church, I have never before seen such a hunger for Jesus.  All of the people who recognize the current challenges in much of the institutional Christian Church in America now see a clear contrast between Jesus and the some of the louder voices of the Church and something about that contrast is leading people to want to know Jesus better.  We seem to recognize now what He’s not and now we want to know the fullness of who He is. When it comes to our leaders, we want to see goodness and humility, we want good character, and we want to see them reflecting Christ for us.  When we don’t, there’s sadness and confusion, yes, but truthfully, I feel a groundswell of opportunity in this moment. I believe people are aching to understand and know God more in this time.  And many of them are seeking out their own resources and study and finding Christ mirrored in the leaders that they are intentional about following. Many are creating their own ministries and telling their own stories of His goodness and His upside-down Kingdom. And many are ready to tackle the question of what’s next when it comes to their faith lives. So many people are looking for more and finding the future of their faith in the Holy Spirit and their own open hands. That’s good news.

Something is rumbling underfoot, friend. Do you feel it? 

We’re astonished at the goodness of Jesus and yet maybe for the first time in our lives, we chose not to attend a Mass or a church service this Easter. I know so many people who opted for quiet prayer this year, and maybe like those first disciples, there was sorrow and confusion, but also the realization that God is moving.  We hear voices in the distance yelling out that though the Church seems corrupted and beleaguered, and maybe close to death, that there is new life ahead after all.

And it may not look like what we thought, may not look anything like what we’re used to, but then again, that’s what resurrection is all about. Do you feel it rumbling in your heart or under your feet? I do.

If you’ve never heard the term faith deconstruction, I’d like to introduce it to you as a name for the feelings and thoughts you may be experiencing these days.  It’s a time of wondering, questioning, and finally, rebuilding of your ideas about faith and relationship with God.  We’ll talk more about deconstruction in a future episode but for now I just want to encourage you: if you feel led to explore and even question your faith practices at this time, it just may be an invitation from God to go deeper this Easter season.  And it might feel like wilderness but friend, be not afraid.

God is so much better than we could hope for.  He makes a way, bringing new life and making all things new.  He’s doing it right now for me and for you, and death does not have the final word here.  Not in our bodies or in our faith, because of the great humble and self-sacrificial gift of Jesus.  Out of the dying comes the rising for sure. You can count on it.

In today’s show notes, I’ll recommend a few voices I trust who are naming this inflection point or who are calling out in the wilderness toward an authentic and deep experience of Christ in this time. They’re helping us sit in our loss but also challenging us to rise up and reflect the God we know to those around us, remembering that Church is not embodied in leadership but in all of us, the Body of Christ. And we can feel disappointment and discouragement from some of our leaders, and believe me, I feel that deeply, but at a certain point we need to remember that we just might be the change that the world is waiting for. The next chapter of the Church of God is in our hands, and in our willingness to let the Holy Spirit lead us on.  As James Bryan Smith says, “You and I are one in whom Christ delights and dwells. We live in the strong and unshakeable Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is not in trouble and neither are we.” 

Do you feel it? It’s such good news.

If you’d like to engage with me on this topic, you can find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites or on my blog at mylittleepiphanies.com.  For now, I have a blessing for you in this Easter season, so let us pray.

God you’re making all things new.  We’re tired today, maybe a little confused as to our next steps, but we feel the glimmer of hope that You have planted in us.  We want to go forward, not backward, so make a home in us, Jesus, and lead us in our next chapters.  Help us to experience You more fully so that we can walk on the light path You have for us. 

In Jesus’s name, we pray, amen.

Christ has risen.  He has risen indeed.  And friend, that means, so will we.

Okay, I’ll see you next time.  

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