Juice and Joy for New Year’s Day, January 1, 2011
So far today, God, I have done all right. I haven’t
gossiped, haven’t lost my temper, haven’t been greedy,
grumpy, nasty, selfish or over-indulgent. I’m
very thankful for that. But in a few minutes, God,
I am going to get out of bed. And from then on
I’m going to need a lot more help. Amen.
I’ve had this little prayer tucked away for months, thinking, if it’s a good way to start off a new day, then it should also work for beginning a New Year. A tall order, I know.
As Americans, we’re funny. Many genuinely say that they are, or want to be, “spiritual,” or more connected to some aspect of the “spirit,” but have little use or tolerance for organized religion. We want to pray more and commune more with God, but in ever-increasing numbers, are rejecting outright established orthodoxy, set rituals and prayers to learn and live by that our mainstream faith communities dish up. (Including my own, too, as a Quaker.)
What is interesting is that there is a true, honest yearning out there among people of all ages for more of the “juice and joy” that living a spirit lead life can bring, but little real seeking in the way of committing time and energy to making it happen on a consistent basis. It’s like being hungry for something that we can’t seem to find. And I see this frequently among busy parents, and, especially among teens.
On one hand I’d like to say that the mainstream churches and denominations have basically failed us miserably. They really have. But on the other hand, aren’t “they,” meaning the denominations out there, really “us” in the first place? And if they have failed us, and if “they” is truly us, why haven’t we toppled these stale and lifeless forms we call churches over to create something closer to the Spirit that we can honestly say we know and own?
Drive down any street and see for yourself and count the places of worship that are slowly crumbling, which are, each of them, struggling just to keep their doors open. Tell me again why we keep slapping on paint and fixing up roofs on structures so few believe in?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t support people being in organized faith communities, because I firmly do. And I’m in one too. I just think that our model and our method is in serious trouble and we need to find out why. Once we answer “why,” then we need to explore “what.” What do we want to create instead? I think that God is just sitting back, and waiting.
Original source of the opening prayer unknown (But for real, this is a prayer that a friend’s dad recites every morning)