Seek­ing an­swers

Medicine Hat News - - FAITH - By the Way Rev. Jim Hill­son

Re­li­gion has helped build hu­man com­mu­ni­ties for thou­sands of years. Re­li­gion gets ex­pressed in sto­ries and rit­u­als. As we gather we re­call the sto­ries of our founders and saints, teach­ers and el­ders. And in our rit­u­als we con­nect with our an­ces­tors, with each other and with God.

Even though re­li­gion is old it is not frozen in time. Re­li­gions are all evolv­ing. Re­li­gions let them­selves down when they refuse to change or refuse to let go of as­pects of faith that no longer work to build up our com­mon hu­man­ity. The prac­tice of re­li­gion is a di­a­logue be­tween the wis­dom of the past and the chal­lenges of the present and the fu­ture. And from there we shape our de­ci­sions and com­mit­ments.

The work of re­li­gion is to seek an­swers to life's big­gest ques­tions: What are we here for? What can we be­lieve in? How can we use our tal­ents and gifts to help oth­ers? In most re­li­gions the ques­tions be­come a prayer. We some­how re­al­ize that we are not go­ing to rest easy with a per­sonal opin­ion. So we ask the ques­tion in the con­text of what we know about God and God’s pur­poses for us.

When our faith com­mu­ni­ties gather we re­mind our­selves of at least two things: First, that we can't fix ev­ery­thing. And sec­ond, that we can do some­thing!

My work as a re­tired min­is­ter has given me the chance to join with folk from dif­fer­ent churches on two im­por­tant projects. The first project is to pro­vide sup­port and en­cour­age­ment to a Mus­lim fam­ily that last year came to Canada from Syria. And the sec­ond project is to sup­port the min­istry of a Chap­lain at Medicine Hat Col­lege. Both of these are parts of church life where “the rub­ber hits the road.”

You will not be sur­prised that as we work on these projects we don’t spend a lot of time de­bat­ing the in­tri­ca­cies of re­li­gious teach­ing or prac­tice. But still we are learn­ing from each other, and valu­ing each other, and we are be­ing changed by our time to­gether and by the work we share.

We are more open to each other and to many oth­ers be­cause work­ing to­gether has stretched us and helped us grow. The story of faith that we pass on to our com­mu­nity and our chil­dren is a richer story be­cause of the work we share. And the wis­dom we bring to our in­di­vid­ual churches is deep­ened by hav­ing en­gaged with this wider cir­cle of neigh­bours we are still get­ting to know. Life's bless­ings do in­deed come in many forms.

Jim Hill­son is a re­tired min­is­ter and mem­ber of Fifth Av­enue Me­mo­rial United Church.

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