yes, i am a disgruntled pastor’s daughter who grew up going to church every sunday and begrudging it. the hours spent listening to a father she didn’t know and the small talk afterwards (which i still dislike), the feigned interest in weather and health when all anyone was ever thinking about was lunch, and the couch.
yet i still believe in church. i believe in it because, done right, it can become an organic nucleus of love. an expose of purity and justice. a jaw-dropping example of Jesus.
but done wrong? it can ruin the world. no better example of this than the crusades, but even more recently, megachurches that abuse offerings or tele-evangelists that hurt the holy spirit or most recently, a canadian church that closed its food bank because it attracts poor people. poor people. the very people Jesus came to save.
“‘Most clients of food banks have not yet come to a sense of personal responsibility in life. They are still in denial, blame or seeing the world as owing them,’ wrote Rev. David Durksen of the Unity Church of Victoria.
“Ms. Prossen praised the work done by food banks, and said the church will still collect food for baskets but focus more on people’s spiritual hunger.”
there are over 300 verses in the bible that have to do with feeding the hungry. the majority of those verses have to do with physical hunger. because (as i know, firsthand) if you’re starving, your mind isn’t absorbing anything. you need to address the physical before you can satisfy the spiritual.
my friend has stretched ears and bright red hair and sings in a band with her husband, and i’m telling her about a book i’m reading called Radical by David Platt. i’m only on the first chapter but it’s already changed my life. this pastor of a megachurch who’s seen through the holes of our gospel and realized we’re not living church at all. instead, we’re the living dead.
and my friend nods, talks about the book of acts, about how the church in acts was people living together and sharing with each other and unburdening, “kind of like we are right now,” she says. “meanwhile, society has made it into a religious duty, so we can check it off our list and feel better about ourselves.”
maybe church should be a verb, not a noun. maybe that’s why we have it wrong?
and i wonder how our lives, our hearts, our sundays would change if church were something we did versus a place we went. perhaps we’d focus more on our hearts than on our outfits. on loving the poor instead of keeping our sanctuaries clean. on being the hands and feet of Jesus instead of tithing more than the Joneses.
i wonder if it’s the walls. i don’t know that walls ever did anyone any good. let’s tear them down. let’s make every day a sabbath, and every person, an emblem of God.
because every soup kitchen is a church. and the men and women gathered there? Christ’s own body, broken for the world.
(in this photo, my friend amy and i are “churching” in a local thrift store, trying on ancient hats and looking pretty spectacular, i must say :))