Having trouble finding a church that feels right?
I was raised Christian. Yet, somehow, the Jesus I saw in the stained glass above the pulpit and heard my Sunday school teacher describing just never seemed like the warm, comforting superhero I imagined as I knelt by my bedside each night in prayer. It wasn't until just a few years ago, as I embarked on a quest to understand the history of Christianity, that I began to see what was wrong. The more familiar I became with the many intriguing legends surrounding the historical man Jesus, the more I came to realize how vastly different the churches of today are from what I always imagined the humble sage from Nazareth must have surely been about.
And so I pondered. Why does the Jesus narrative have to be so negative, so dark and creepy? What is so uplifting about his bleeding on a cross to save us from our sins and usher in the kingdom of Heaven? Why can't he simply be to us as he probably was to his closest circle of disciples: a friendly, wise mentor who embodies goodness? Were he to return to us this very day and set out in search of a place to worship and call home, would this soft-spoken teacher of simple truths be comfortable with any of today's sects and denominations that proclaim themselves to be Christian?
Of course, religion is more than just emulating an admirable icon. It is really about living life. And, as I step back and ponder the state of our society, I am haunted by another equally discomforting reality. Our value system has deteriorated profoundly in recent generations. We see it in our homes, in our schools, in our government, in the ethics of the business world. Sure, young people think they live in the greatest time ever: exciting bells and whistles at every turn, a wealth of opportunities empowering every individual to achieve amazing levels of awesomeness. But is that hyper-secularist credo really a good thing? I tend to believe that Jesus would think not.
As I see it, we have allowed old-fashioned goodness to be replaced by love of self, a gluttonous obsession with snappy gadgets and cheesy artifacts of our own design, and an utter disregard for the beauty and serenity of nature and for the needs of others. Maybe it is only the stodgy old wisdom of my maturity talking, but the very things most people find amazing these days, I find horribly distressing. Where have all the flowers gone?
What became of the virtues and beatitudes Jesus taught us, I keep wondering? And where are the churches in all of this? Why do they seem to have dropped off the radar just when we need them the most? I cannot help but suspect that they must have thrown in the towel, having all but lost their capability to protect, promote and restore the traditional core values of home and family that I learned as a boy and still consider integral to a Christian life.
And, so it is that I have begun to ponder starting a new ministry. Well, okay, maybe not a ministry exactly. After all, I am not a preacher or even all that knowledgable of the Bible. I am simply an ol' country boy with a dream and a desire to fellowship with a few like-minded folks who are as inspired by Jesus and as exasperated by the current state of affairs as I am.
This NM thing is a fledgling concept for sure. There is no church--just the shady sanctuary of fallen leaves beneath the boughs of the glorious cypress trees and live oaks lining the banks of the river below my house. And the fellowship is essentially a congregation of one so far. The concept, though, is quite real and I would be overjoyed to share it with any of you who are interested.
Click the links below and stop in for a visit. I will happily explain what it's all about. In a nutshell, though, it is comprised of two closely interrelated facets, the first being a fairly broad lifestyle thing, and the second a tiny group of sincere worshippers, much closer to what you might think of as a true church. I call them, respectively ...
The Naoi Meadow Way and The Lucan Chapel.
If you would like, click the banner above and listen to my brief three minute podcast. I am playing around with doing more little video and audio clips over time. Or, who knows, maybe even an online call-in talk show someday (since radio was once my profession). But that's just me brainstorming. For now, let me hear your thoughts. Let's see if we can put together a nice little Naoi Meadow Way congregation, beginning online and then eventually out here on the ranch at Canyon Lake.