Support the Café
Search our site

What’s Your Religion?

What’s Your Religion?

Friday, November 14, 2014 – Proper 27, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 88 (morning) // 91, 92 (evening)

Joel 2:28-3:8

James 1:16-27

Luke 16:1-9

Many people, understandably, like to keep “religion” at arm’s length. They are “spiritual” rather than religious. Or, they proclaim that Christianity is “not a religion, but a relationship.” Religion is the foil to life-giving and transformative ways of connecting with the divine.

The author of our second reading also seems to know that “religion” doesn’t always have a good connotation. But instead of offering us an alternative to religion, the reading asks us to refine our understanding of what religion is. In its purest form, religion has two parts: (1) “to care for orphans and widows in their distress,” and (2) “to keep oneself unstained by the world.” Imagine if “religion” simply meant care for people at the margins and people in need, and resistance to the harmful forces around us.

A medieval guide to religious life called the “Ancrene Wisse” uses this verse from today’s second reading from the Letter of James when advising a small community of women. If people ask the women which religious order they belong to (meaning Benedictine, Gilbertine, Cistercian, etc.), they should reply that they belong to “the order of St. James.”

There is no order of St. James, though: no Rule of St. James, no special religious habit, no specific religious house. Rather, the so-called order of St. James is a simple and pure alternative to the proliferation of religious orders that are available. Instead of choosing and joining a religious order, the women should focus on the two tasks from today’s reading: care for orphans and widows, and keeping themselves unstained by the world.

Like these medieval women, we find ourselves today with an array of religious options. What religion should we choose? Simple: the religion of caring for those at the margins of our society and in deepest need, and of preserving our health and wholeness in a sometimes hostile world. Our religious tradition and denominational affiliation are meaningless otherwise.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Dislike (0)
Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Facebooktwitterrss
Support the Café
Past Posts
2020_001

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café