Part of leaving black and white legalistic Fundamentalist Evangelicalism behind is taking in a more mystical view of things. One key thing in my new Lutheran church is the procession and entrance rite at the beginning of the service. As the cross proceeds in it is beleived that not only Christ is present but all of the Saints and heavenly hosts as well join us for worship. This can be tough tobwork out at first but it really explains why all of the Orthodox and Catholic cathedrals have ornate painting on the ceilings.
There is something about high church liurgy that helps me feel connected to the past and all of the people who have lived their lives and have passed on. I remember visiting the old Episcopal church in my town and the Book of Common prayer fell open to the right spot throughout the service. Think about how many times that book had been used throught the years to get that way. It was like that book was a welcoming member showing me the ropes to that church.
That is the beauty of connecting with the past, there are many who have wrestled with the same questions we have today. In American Evangelicalism it seems they want to erase the past or have the leaders take from past theologians and not give them credit.
If I think about eternal life after I die and it is a similar experience to when I was here on earth then here is how it goes: I walk through the doors of the most awesome pub I have ever seen. As I take it all in I realize that I have arrived late at a party. The strange thing is I no longer feel awkward and everybody is familiar that I see. It is like all of my family members that have passed before me are there, even the ones I have never met. Since we share common ancestry I already know them and they apologize for all of the negative traits of theirs I inherited.
There are also other people at the party, all of the great theologians, comedians and philosophers that have inspired me. I get to hang with Tillich, Bultmann, Aquinas, St. Paul, Jerome, Bonhoeffer, Luther and Lewis from the theological camp. After that I get to hang with Carlin, Hicks, Kinison, Pryor, O'Neal, and Giraldo from my comedian fan boy days. Then I get to hang with Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzche, Augustine, Russell, Socrates and Plato from the philosophical side.
As I talk to family, friends and the great tinkers throughout history I hope to learn that everything that matters is connected somehow. It has to probably be In way I can't understand right now in the human experience but it will be painfully simple on the other side.
Maybe this time on earth is just a way for us as eternal beings to see existence as finite and empty. Those of us who want or expect more focus a ray of light for those of us who feel alone. That is why for me the pursuit of things that matter means so much to me. I just can't accept that this earthly existence is all there is. The universe is so infinite and as a human I can't even venture off this planet. That is why I know there is more out there and this experience right now that is life isnso constraining.
Just participating in liturgy for a year has kicked my thinking into this gear and has given me appreciation for all that is seen and unseen.