I am sitting in a lecture room with 60 other people. I know two people in the audience; the rest are complete strangers.

The speaker speaks passionately about the ineffable, the numinous, the presence of the Divine at work in life. There are many references to spirituality, to the Life Force, to the experience of unity, and the oneness of all life.

The presence of the people at this presentation suggests they are committed to seeking meaning and wholeness in their lives. They would only be here if they want the same things I want in life.

They want to live honestly and authentically. They are looking for lives that are integrated and moving towards healing and peace. They want to become conscious, open to the mysterious transcendent unity of  all being. They are trying to live responsively to the light, to move towards goodness, kindness and compassion. They want to grow in love. They are genuinely seeking to live in the truth as they understand truth. They hope to be an influence for goodness and beauty in the world.

But, I am fairly confident looking around the room that not many of the people gathered here who are I am sure sincere seekers of truth and light would ever consider looking for this truth and light in the place I have spent my adult life trying to fulfill the goals we share. I do not imagine there are many listening to these words who would ever think that the Christian church might be a place to seek a transforming path for their lives.

Please be clear; I am not being critical of these people. I am sure they are genuinely seeking to live truthful integrated lives. I am convinced they are here because they want to grow in their ability to be open compassionate caring people able to work in the world as instruments of healing for others. My issue is why church, or even Christian faith, would be the last place on earth they would look to progress in their ability to reach these goals.

Perhaps it is just misunderstanding. The one glancing mention of what the speaker calls the “Judeo-Christian tradition” suggests that there may be some  failure to fully understand the richness and beauty of traditional religion. She speaks of Moses standing before the burning bush claiming that he is “utterly terrified.” She sees this story as demonstrating that traditional religions promote a vision of a god who is to be feared, before whom we are to stand trembling in terror. If this is the generally held opinion of Judaism and Christianity, it is no wonder these people might feel disinclined to look to synagogues or churches for encouragement in their spiritual journeys.

Perhaps it is just a different sensibility. Maybe it is simply a matter of “different strokes for different folks.” Possibly I should just rejoice that these people in their way are seeking the truth. Maybe I should just be grateful that there are people willing to give up an evening and spend $20.00 in the hope of finding ways to become more compassionate and faithful to truth.

But, as I slip out of the lecture hall during the question period, I am left with a vague sense of sadness. I cannot help feeling that the world in which I have spent my life trying to nurture the qualities these people seek is a world that is utterly closed to them. I fear there is almost nothing I can do to pry open the door a little and make it appealing for them to peak inside the parameters of church or even Christian faith.

Why are church and Christian faith such foreign territory for so many genuine seekers of truth?

Why is the world of traditional faith such a blank wall for those who are trying to find their way into a deeper experience of “the numinous” dimension of reality?

How might we in the church forge some kind of connection with these people with whom we share so much in common and yet from whom we seem to be so deeply divided?