It isn’t good to be alone, as the first human discovered way back in Eden. That piece of human wisdom goes on being shared in some strange ways. The latest seems to be by the atheists who are setting up “churches” where they might congregate. I am not mocking this. I am rather acknowledging that a basic loneliness in every human heart has to be filled.
So, with music and sharing on a topic by a director, they come together, careful not to be a religious service but rather to fulfill the name they have chosen, “Oasis”. There are at least 100 similar assemblies around the world offering support in a churchy world to the vocally non-churchy. As their religiously-affiliated neighbors in the Bible Belt USA go to their respective denominations on a Sunday, the atheists are gradually joining the procession to places where the like-minded can come together.
I love the thinker who has said, “A great idea needs to be shared.” Many of the sharp-thinking atheists are finding the printed page a lonely place to voice their thoughts. So they draw near one another.
They are rediscovering what we believers have long known: a vital component of our faith is sharing it with others. We need to feed our souls with the warmth and the challenges of being with others. Community is what our Hebrew ancestors learned from their God who did NOT say, “You are my person”, but rather “You are my people.”
This is both the messy part of church – those people who get into my pew! – and its incredible joy – those wonderful folks who offer to share my joys and my sorrows. So I would like to say to the “secular church-goers”, “Welcome to the human gathering. You might be getting into more than you bargained for but it is so worth it!”