I admit that the thrust of the sermon is amazingly out of step with public opinion. Polls indicate that even though the vast majority of people believe in God, most regard institutional religion with its rituals and structures to be at best optional. The general opinion seems to be: "I'm all for God, but the demise of institutional religion would be no great loss."
While I will be the first to admit that institutional religion has its faults, such blanket judgments of institutional religion are astoundingly superficial and short sighted.
The text for Sunday's sermon was Exodus 12:1-14 wherein is described the institution of Passover. I think it notable that while God was accomplishing His remarkable salvation of the Hebrew slaves, He should take time to institute a religious ritual that they should observe "generation after generation as a rule for all time." Why?
Peter Berger, the sociologist, has said it well: "...religious experience would remain a highly fugitive phenomenon if it were not preserved in an institution; only the institutionalization of religion allows its transmission from one generation to another... Without religious institutions even the experiences of the greatest prophets or mystics would be lost when they disappeared from the earth."
Without institutional religion we would have never even heard of Moses and the burning bush, or Jesus and his cross. Think how much poorer we would be then. Institutional religion is a precious gift. Cherish it.
©C. David Hess