Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Gatherings"? - the new Pharisees assemble!

I note that there is a new movement afoot of secularists, humanists and atheists, for holding “Gatherings”, services which stress the communal and psychological advantages of worship in church but without God.

Their exponents stress how wonderful life is and how wonderful it is to be them and belong to their group meeting.

Alas, poor Pharisees. The publicity given out for these meetings suggests to me that Jesus, whilst agreeing with the benefits of such meetings, would direct towards them the same criticism he made of the Pharisees – pompous, self-satisfied, and inordinately self-righteous.

It is a criticism I would make about so many of those claiming to not believe in God but still be spiritual. They seem unable to accept that they may be wrong, make mistakes, and from time to time participate in what is obnoxious, demeaning, and often unlawful. These are the new Pharisees They are so different, so arrogant. They epitomise the very opposite of  those whose gatherings are in church where they kneel down and say “God have mercy on me a sinner”! These are those who in the grand order of things align themselves with the vast ongoing purpose of God by acknowledging that they have stepped out of line and seek to return.

As a counsellor I met many over many years men and women well aware of something going wrong in their lives. The repairing of the fault so often involved enabling them to find their way back into the stream of life with a positive purpose.  Our new Pharisaic communities of non-believers flock to counsellors. Often they come to a point where the meaning of what is happening to them leads to a statement such as “I got it wrong then.”

Gatherings which ignore the simple fact they all of us get things wrong from time to time could well follow the path  Jesus endorses and beat their breast and say “God [or “life” if they prefer it} have mercy on me a sinner.” But then sin as such is an unfashionable concept, whilst sinning seems to be the most common preference in the lifestyle choices of these new Pharisees.

My best wishes to you all!
Fr Ted