Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sermon: Epiphany 2B

New Years day was quite an education for me. I was told that Japanese people are not religious, yet they pray at the shrine. And from the lineups I saw at the various shrines in the area, I could see what people meant.

I would say that makes Japanese people VERY religious. At least in practice if not in belief. It seems that in such a highly ritualized culture, the act of praying at the shrine is a quite a religious thing to do, even if folks sometimes do so out of ritual or simple tradition.

Tokyo is this amazing city where I can walk through blocks and blocks of highly modern landscape, with its massive steel and glass buildings, and stunning architecture. Then I encounter - out of nowhere - a small Buddhist temple. And someone might be praying there. And down the block I’ll stumble upon a Shinto shine, reminding people of the city’s deep history.

And of course, on my way to the office I walk through the Yasukuni Shrine, where there is, often, a crowd gathering. And knowing its complicated history, and the strong feelings it arouses, I make my way as quickly as I can when the young men in black shirts and sunglasses start shouting into their microphones.

Religion is everywhere here. Yearnings for the sacred are found on every city block.

This wouldn’t have been news to the Christians in Corinth. The Corinthian Christians knew shrines, and they knew temples. They knew that temples and shrines were places where gods and goddesses lived.

Temples were expensive to build and even worse to maintain. Temples were sacred, holy, awe-inspiring places. They were places people went to celebrate life’s special events, those transitional moments that helped them along life’s journey. If they wanted to find the Holy, they went to the shrine and the temple.

So they were probably surprised when Paul asked them..(whole thing here)

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