I am a spiritual person; I am a man of peace and a man of faith. I attend a Christian Church, but I am very familiar and have studied deeply the old Hebrew religion and the Islam religion. These were all created by the followers of Abraham and are similar in many ways.
I also have a semi working knowledge with some of these southern Asian religions, such as Hinduism and Sikhism. I respect all people of faith who love God no matter what name they call him. I criticize none for their practices even though I may disagree with them.
But I do have to say this: although I attended an Episcopal church, and I love the liturgy and many of the homilies, but it is most often the fellowship I love. Love is spread around the congregation by our rector, an Episcopal priest, an associate rector, also an Episcopal priest, and a curate, our third Episcopal priest. All are loving and kind people; all are devoted to their work. Although, I think that I have flourished in the Episcopal religion and it has broadened my scope of interest with an observation of religions all around the world, I come back to what Jesus said when his disciples accused a man of healing in Jesus’s name. Jesus said forgive him, forbid him not. What does that mean, forbid him not, if he is practicing in Jesus’s name. Need he be a priest; did he need to have studied for three years at seminary?
This is one of the only places where I disagree with organized religion. I believe that anybody who is a man or woman of faith can heal in Jesus’s name and bring God into others’ lives
A very good friend of mine had decided that he was going to remove himself from life-prolonging artificial means. He was worried that God would punish him for “committing suicide.” I told him that God loves him and probably put the thought in his head. I also told him that God forgives him for all of his sins. This is what Jesus taught us and died for.
I was very emotional that a good friend had opted for death, even though it would end his suffering. I drove to my church, asked to see the rector, and related the conversation to her. Instead of comfort, she rebuked me for telling him that God forgives him of sins, the reason, only an ordained priest can grant this from God. I left both disappointed and angered.
The Gospel reading this week tells the story of Jesus telling His followers that they should not rebuke someone who heals in His name. Jesus said, “Forbid him not!” I wonder why my rector rebuked me.
© Russell Kendall Carter