I don’t like Mormons. It may be due to my experience with Sue, an LDS singer who joined our wedding band (too many years ago to count) and who, at the first rehearsal, at MY home, chastised me for sipping a Diet Coke because it offended her belief system….Or it might be because of Lillian, a former patient of mine, who attended the LUTHERAN funeral of my office manager, and then proceeded to proselytize the congregation from her pew seat in the middle of the service. I was the organist and could only shut her up by starting the hymn. Loudly.

So I find it ironic that my favorite podcast is Preach, which is hosted by Lee Hale. He is VERY LDS, one of eight children and who as a young man spent time knocking on doors as a Mormon missionary. In his words, the Preach podcast “explores the messy middle of faith.” He is currently not an active church member, because, like many of us….he has questions. He started the podcast because he went off to college to be a journalist, and on graduating, moved to Salt Lake City and found his journalistic endeavors revealed some uncomfortable truths about his Mormon Faith and what he felt was expected of him to be accepted in that society.

In an interview he did with Elsa Chang of NPR, he stated “And so I just reached a certain point a few years ago where I was like, you know what? Maybe I can go through life and not feel angry at myself like that anymore. And maybe I can take my theology seriously – ’cause Mormon theology is actually very kind – and believe that if there is a God, God knows I’m human and loves me not despite that, but because of it….”

….which reminded me how Martin Luther used to flog himself, sleep without a blanket in winter and do other ritualistic acts of penance in order to “earn” righteousness and thus salvation, but finally understood that it was freely given by God, not earned by our deeds….and which led to the Reformation in the sixteenth century.

The podcast interviews people from all faith backgrounds….or none….as they face the questions of Who are we, Why are we here, Is someone (Someone) guiding us…watching us. Some of the guests assert that they KNOW the answers but for many “the messy middle” is where we find ourselves.

So even though I don’t like Mormons (but, given the current world situation, I’m glad I learned from them to fill my pantry….) I am encouraged to listen to Lee and his guests as we all try to find our way in the dark. This verse from the Old Testament reading for today, the Third Sunday in Lent kind of says it all:

17:7 He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”