It's getting close to dinner time. My wife and I have had busy days and neither of us has much energy for cooking.
"Let's go out for dinner," I suggest. Now comes the quandary. Where shall we go?
We have a plethora of choices. Sometimes our dining opportunities seem pleasantly abundant; other times they just seem confusing. Some options are upscale, some are good values, some are sports oriented, and some have pleasant staff. We remember a mildly unpleasant experience at one nearby place, and mediocre flavor at another.
Rev. Thomas Nyman
Where shall we go?
Sometimes it depends on our starting point.
Do we want to be where the action is or where we can have quiet discussion? Do we want it to be special or just fast?
Or, are we just plain hungry and just about any place will do?
I think we are truly blessed to have so many choices and the ability to pay for the food we choose.
Some of us have the same predicament on Sunday, or Friday or Saturday.
We can choose Christian, Muslim or Jewish. Within each religious tradition there are many menus.
Christians, for example, can choose from Episcopal, Methodist, Congregational, Catholic, Lutheran, Free, and Baptist to name just a few.
Within each camp are choices, such as liberal or
conservative, large or small, seeker oriented or believer based.
We know this one has good preaching and that one has great music. This one has great architecture and that one is rather bare bones, using their money for other things. This one is high tech and that one is high touch.
Some traditions condemn others as infidels, or as soft on sin, or Biblically illiterate, or fundamentalist. Some seem to promise more than they can deliver and speak in absolutes, while others encourage questions and debate and lack definitive positions. Some say that their way is the only way.
So, why does a religious traveler choose one rather than another church or tradition? Why should they?
Sometimes we focus on what sets us apart from others and use our voices to defend our differences.
Consider what happens when we value our starting places rather than our destinations? What if we focused on our spiritual neediness that brings us to care about faith?
What if, instead of evaluating the food, we appreciated our hunger? What if we examined our need to act, rather than defended our choices?
We may file into different restaurants, but we start with our common experience of wanting food.
Perhaps we can see that it is the same on Sunday or Friday or Saturday. We experience a common need for God.
We enter different houses of prayer, but my prayer is that we enter not with pride in right opinion, rather with gratitude at being free to worship and for having a God who cares.