Friday, May 04, 2007

Words Along the Way - Church

Time for another pause along our journey. Think of it as a time to sit and rest and talk a bit.

Last time I promised to explain why I think church is important. Let's make sure we're clear on what we're talking about. "Church" to me is the gathering of fellow believers, usually to worship but also including times of study or even just hanging out together. When we are gathered together (check Matthew 18:20) Jesus is with us and we are the church. So on Sunday mornings we're the church, at vestry meetings or conventions we're the church. We're even the church when we get together to tell each other that we're wrong and apostate and heretics. I'm not so sure that Jesus is happy with his church at those moments but that's another issue.

Notice that there's no mention of the buildings or institutions. No mention of the committees or whatever BEING the church. That stuff, including what we do on Sundays, is merely how we express what it means to be the church. The buildings can all fall down, every BCP can disappear, even every copy of the Bible could disappear and if we gathered together in faith we would still be the church.

The problem that a lot of us (including me many days) have with "church" is dealing with those other issues. Who's the boss, which service should we use, which Bible translation, which traditions or what kind of music? None of that is THE CHURCH. Getting hung up on it keeps us from focusing on the important stuff. You know, Love God, Love One Another, et cetera.

The church, the real, important church, is about people. People worshiping together, caring for one another, teaching one another, learning from one another. That other stuff is merely the manner which we have chosen to travel the way, the journey. How we do it is much less important than that we are doing it. If we choose to emphasize the real church then we will not, we can not choose a bad manner to travel.

So is church still boring sometimes? Yes. Find your way through. Like any journey some parts are easier and more interesting than others. Sermon not speaking to you? Fine, take a look at the scriptures and see what it does say to you. Take the time for some quiet conversation of your own with God. Get to know the other folks who are travelling along with you. Let them help you find your own method of travel. You may also discover that you can help them too.

I said in the last one of these that it takes time to make important decisions. The church offers you a history of how other people did it. Do you really WANT to make the same mistakes others made? Wouldn't it be nice to have someone point out a short cut to you? That to me is the church working at it's best. Remember that folks who chose a different means of travel are still members of the church. Treat them with respect. Hopefully they'll do the same but a lot of travellers will defend "their way" as the only way. Wish them well and keep moving. When someone asks you answer them gently and explain that this is the way you've chosen and why (that answer may change as time goes on, but that's cool).

Then point them towards the church to help them continue their journey.

We'll talk again.


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