Q: What is your most precious religious possession?
The Rev. Pat Rush, pastor, Visitation Catholic Church, Kansas City
My most precious religious possession is my membership in the church of Jesus Christ. The church of Jesus Christ is founded on the faith of the Apostles, those premier witnesses to the ministry and teaching of Jesus and to the resurrection of the Lord.
Guided by the Holy Spirit, this church discerned among the writings of those first years which ones resonated with that apostolic faith and were, therefore, accepted as inspired Scriptures to preserve and proclaim that faith. Guided by that same Holy Spirit, this church has safeguarded and handed on that apostolic faith through the centuries.
Over the years this church has distinguished and celebrated the sacraments to make present to continuing generations the life and love of the risen Lord. It is through the spirituality of this church that countless sinners have heeded the call to conversion and, by the power of Christ, have become saints, exemplars and inspirations for those of us who follow after them.
It is this church that calls me to conversion through these Scriptures, sacraments and saints and makes real to me Christ’s promise that he is with us always and that he came that we might live a new and risen life. It is this church that calls me to proclaim to others this faith, hope and love that has been blessedly given to me.
The Rev. Duke Tufty, pastor, Unity Temple on the Plaza, Kansas City
I grew up in a fundamentalist church. When I entered my first year of Sunday School, I was given a leather-bound copy of “Your Book of Prayer.” On the first page in my first-grade handwriting is my name, address and telephone number. On Page 95 of that book is the “Day of Humiliation and Prayer” and it reads: “O Thou great God, who art just and holy, I, thy sinful, unclean creature come before Thee in deep humility, confessing my many sins and total unworthiness. I am aware of my many failings and deserve Thy displeasure and punishment.”
Imagine the impression this made on my 6-year-old mind. Many of my failings came to mind, such as the words I had misspelled, the numbers I had added incorrectly and all of the things I had spilled over the years.
I did not wish to be seen by God as an unclean creature, so I went from one bath a week to two. I didn’t know what to do with my unworthiness, so I just lived with it and was reminded of it every time I did something that could have been done better.
This is my favorite religious possession because it is a constant reminder of the insidious, deplorable and totally ludicrous impositions some religions cast onto good people living good lives and the devastating effect these religions can have.