I've been holding off on posting about this subject for quite a while. It is a subject that is very important to me, in that I've always been fascinated by origins. Where did we come from? Where did the earth come from? Where did the galaxy and the entire cosmos come from? Why is there anything at all? I've read extensively on cosmology, astronomy, geology and biology and it's a never ending source of wonder to me the way things have developed over time from the simplest beginnings to the human mind, the most complex thing we know of.
The reason I was waiting to write was because, as you may recall, I allowed this subject to dominate my thinking to the point that I abandoned faith in God and changed my religious affiliation in an attempt to locate a church that was both theologically conservative and liturgical and at the same time fully accepting of the picture painted by science. Turns out there ain't no such place. :-( It also turns out that it doesn't really matter nearly so much as I was thinking it did. :-)
I spoke with Pastor Ledic at my old church, Messiah Lutheran in Danville and while we certainly see things differently in many of the details, in general we see God creating the heavens and the earth and deliberately setting out to create US as well. Then what follows is the fall and then the redemption through the life death and resurrection of Jesus and the other details of basic orthodox Christianity. What matter is Jesus being at the center of everything. There are several ways that Christians look at these subjects. One is Young Earth Creationism, best represented by Todd Wood who is a real scientist who doesn't just cover his eyes with his hands and chant "La la la I can't hear you" when confronted with the fossil record. I'm taking a short course on Adam from him right now. Another take is Hugh Ross and his Old Earth Creationism at Reasons to Believe. And then there is Bio-Logos which I'm rather fond of at the moment. But my point is that the precise details are not as vital as I was making them, fascinating but not vital. :-)
Jesus at the center is the reason I'm going back to Messiah as much as possible from now on too. Other churches claim to have Jesus at the center, but almost always it's not the case. I went to one church in the valley, which I'm not going to name, which claimed to be Christ centered. But all of the signs and symbols did not indicate that. There was a "praise band" that played on a "platform" in the front and center of the church. The pastor stood in the center of the church to give his sermon. Then when it came time for communion, there was a little altar set off to the side of the platform where it wouldn't get in the way of the other "performers." Jesus at the center? Nope, when he physically came into the room under the bread and wine he was shoved off to the side and distributed quickly and perfunctorily. All through the service MAN was at the center, both symbolically in the positioning of the "furniture" and "actors" and in the focus of the service in general. And this church claimed to be "Lutheran" and worse, claimed to be LCMS!
The Catholics have Jesus at the center, but they have so many other things and people standing in front of him you can't really get to him or even see him most of the time. I'm talking of the myriad rules, Mary and the rest of the saints, and all that. Indeed, although they don't mean to be and will deny it loudly, they seem almost polytheistic to me.
But at Messiah Jesus is at the center of everything. Both symbolically and actually. :-) There you have the basic Catholic church of history. The cross and altar are central. Preaching is important, and is always about Christ and him crucified, but the pastor stands to the side of the altar, not in the center, because Christ is at the center! The whole thing centers around the word read and preached and the sacrament reverently administered. We receive Christ through our ears and in our mouths for the forgiveness of our sins. Ah, home at last. Now I just need to figure out how to get there more often. Thank you Lord for Messiah! :-)