The last several weeks at Nexus we've been discussing "social justice" issues. Poverty, debt, hunger, illegal immigration and health care have been our topics for discussion. I guess some people have questioned what these topics have to do with "spirituality". But, IMO, they're exactly what we as progressive Christians should be discussing on Sunday morning. As Nexus is forming, one thing I keep asking myself is "What is the role of church in the life of a Progressive Christian?" You can't get us out of bed with the threat of hell anymore. Most of us aren't going to come because of the old guilt motivator. So, what's left? Assuming we're going to have a sermon on Sunday morning, what should we be talking about?
I gathered, from a comment I heard, that maybe one or two people questioned the "spirituality" of these topics. I was blown away when I heard that. These are exactly the topics, I think those of us who say we are working to bring G-d's Kingdom to Earth should be talking about. What are we doing to help the least among us? What can we do to feed the hungry? What can be more important than that?
On a universalist message board I'm on, we often get "sidetracked" with these issues. We talk a lot about politics. We talk a lot about the morality of a consumeristic, capitalistic society (and we have some disagreements that become extremely heated). We've been together for years, we all agree on G-d's love for all of mankind and the need to spread that message. However, now that we've got that established, what do we do next? Agreeing that we don't have to spend all of our resources saving people from hell frees us up to do other things. IMO, one of the main roles of a Progressive Church must be to motivate and equip its members to go out and do G-d's work in the world? Is G-d's work simply puffing up the congregants with self-help lectures every week? Is G-d's work simply getting people to "accept Jesus as their personal Lord and savior?" I think not. Not that these things aren't important. But, as long as people are dying of starvation, as long as richer nations charge poorer nations interest they can't afford, as long as the gap between the rich and the poor is as wide as it is and people are dying because they don't have access to health care, G-d's will is not being done on Earth as it is in Heaven. And, we can keep paying lip service to it by saying the Lord's prayer, or we can do something about it (and pray about it).
Personally, I was really jazzed to see this series of sermons coming up. Not only have we just talked about these things theoretically, we've talked about concrete things we can do as individuals, as voters and as a group to address some of these issues. Things as simple as going to www.hungersite.com and clicking once a day to provide food to the hungry to things as far-reaching as contacting our representatives to make sure they are using our tax dollars wisely.
The recent series of sermons at Nexus is one of the reasons I got excited about the church in the first place.