For about seven years now, I have been teaching and preaching a message in my pulpit that has become known as Inclusion. It is not a new idea. Actually, the message dates back to the early church fathers, its basic assertion being, "All came from Christ, belongs to Christ, and will return to Christ" and that the historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth, was a human being who surrendered to the Divine Christ Spirit within Himself; the same Christ Spirit that has always been present with and available to humanity, from the foundation of the world. I have been teaching that there is only one God, and each and every religion is but a path, created by men, who were looking for a way to reconnect themselves to God. Many, many humans have connected and still to this day, connect to God through the person of Jesus. But even more people alive on the earth at this point in history, connect through other Savior characters. The message of Inclusion honors each of those paths and strives to point out and emphasize the commonalities that exist in them.
Although this is not a new message, it has been new, or rather, unfamiliar, to most of the people in our congregation who were raised in the environment of traditional Christianity. As with any new and/or unfamiliar message, there is a necessary period of communication. Jesus set the pattern for this with His own disciples. The message He preached was new to them, at the time, and was meant to transcend the Judaism they had all been raised in. The revelation He gave them revolutionized their lives and they were very passionate about it. However, Jesus was smart enough to know that power that is not harnessed becomes an explosion, and zeal without training, wisdom and knowledge can become destructive. So He spent a good deal of time communicating with His disciples and others, teaching them through parables and by the visible, physical examples of His own actions. But in the life of every message, there comes a time when all that needs to be taught has been taught, and the movement demands that the communication become demonstration.
I believe that time has come for our congregation. The Bible says in the book of James, faith without works is dead. Similarly, belief without corresponding action is dead. If your desire is to see the whole household of God worship together in one building during one service, then you can't invite them in and then serve only "Jesus" at the table. I have told my congregation, and I must remind myself as well, that when we sing a Hindu mantra or begin a service with a Muslim call to prayer, it's not going to sound familiar to our ears. And we don't have to "worship" with it. What should cause worship within our hearts when we hear it is the thought that one of God's children, who was taught to connect to God through that mantra and who we have welcomed into our sanctuary, is hearing something familiar to his or her ears; something that stirs their heart and makes them feel at home in God's house.
I love the Bible and I connect to God through the person of Jesus, but I realize that there are other holy books which also contain truth and other persons who have embodied the Christ Spirit, and I will not allow my love for or familiarity with the Bible or the historical person of Jesus to separate me from my friends of other faiths. Spirit is bringing us out of the consciousness of religion - ALL religion, even Christianity - and leading us into the Christ Mind. That's when worship "in Spirit and in Truth" happens. May we, the members of Spirit and Truth Sanctuary, always be able to honor our spiritual heritage, but also be able to see past the cross, as it were, into the realm of Spirit and be bold enough to have a corresponding action that matches our belief.