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July 23, 2017: Finding a Home
I grew up in a Judaic culture where the God of my understanding was vengeful, accusatory, and often cruel. This was a God to be feared, not loved unconditionally. The laws of Judaism were an ever-present reminder of what I was to strive toward, but I rarely seemed to get there...

by Joan Shapiro

I grew up in a Judaic culture where the God of my understanding was vengeful, accusatory, and often cruel. This was a God to be feared, not loved unconditionally.  The laws of Judaism were an ever-present reminder of what I was to strive toward, but I rarely seemed to get there.

When I changed courses and was baptized in 2002, the God of the Old Testament became a memory as I learned about a loving father who accepted me as I was with all my faults. At my confirmation, then-Bishop of Washington John Chane said to me after hearing my story, “God, you’re brave!” As an All Souls parishioner and a National Cathedral volunteer, I have found accepting Episcopal communities. Like everyone, I have had ups and downs in my faith, but I have tried to maintain that loving understanding of God. 

Earlier this year, when Father Jadon announced the first two books he asked us to read together, I bought copies, and even before he announced the timing of our group reading, I began to read Brian McLaren’s “The Great Spiritual Migration.” I couldn’t put it down. In this book, I met the God who had guided me to Christianity again and again, and learned even more about the love God has for me. 

In chapter 3, "Learning How to Love," McLaren writes about finding a home. For me, that home is not a building or a church. That home for me is the innermost part of myself, my soul, that is nurtured and loved and accepted for what I was, what I am, and what I may become.

There is an honesty in McLaren’s book that I have hungered for forever. The path he describes is one of loving your neighbor as well as yourself, and creating a relationship with yourself, your neighbor, and God. A new kind of Trinity, perhaps.

I have found that being a Christian has given me the perspective I lacked as a Jew, and combining both religions has given me the structure I sought and needed.

So in the end, it is love that challenges us to be better people, better Christians, and better friends, and because Jesus accepts us all, we can relax a little and be who we were always meant to be.

What a relief to finally be comfortable in my home.

Last Published: July 19, 2017 8:33 AM
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