I have been thinking about both of these questions this week as I prepared for today's sermon on the story from Exodus 3 about Moses and the burning bush. We tend to read this passage as a call to justice and freedom from oppression because that is a strong focus in mainline churches. It certainly has been in the United Church since our inception, so hear the call folks and fix the world!
Heeding the call to justice is important, but isn't it important to encounter God first? And that's not simply saying we believe in a deity in some vague and distant way. The prophets, the apostle Paul, Jesus, all had transformative experiences of the holy which were difficult to describe but went beyond intellectual assent to a concept. They all preached compassion and equality, but they were fired up by experiences which were transformative.
I figure we should talk about our experiences more, because I know that many United Church folk have had them, in a variety of settings. God speaks through nature and art and music and worship in ways that have touched folk at the core of their being. They have felt Christ's presence in real, if undefinable ways.
What do you think? Is it time to come out of the God-experience closet? What have we got to lose in our rapidly fading UCC? Does the burning bush of our denominational crest need some fuel added to the fire?