Today’s Thought August 3rd, 2020
One of my earliest memories of church dysfunction happened when I was about 10. Our little church, which never topped 25 in worship when I was there in the 1960’s and 70’s, divided the work of opening the building, turning heat on, reading scripture, etc. among its few regular members. We rarely had visitors, so the experience was very much like a closed family with both nice and toxic members. On one cold winter day, we got to church, and it was about 45 degrees – someone had forgotten to come in early and turn the heat up. My Sunday school teacher, a very sweet lady named Mrs. Bertschy, approached a not-so-nice lady to tell her that her husband was the heat turner-onner for the month of January, and he had forgotten. I heard her say this very sweetly – it didn’ t sound mean or demeaning – but the wife of the forgetful man got furious, and she stomped out of the building, never to darken its door again. Even though this family was not a very pleasant one, it still made everyone sad. Even grouchy family members are still family members.
This is not an unusual story in church. In fact, most people who leave church do so because they disagree with the pastor (hard to imagine), or they have a falling out with another member. Most churches aren’t big enough for the angry party to go to a different worship service, so they leave, often never going back to church anywhere. We are all guilty of believing that the church, because we worship a perfect God, should be a perfect place. It doesn’t exist, that perfect place, yet we have deluded ourselves into believing it does. Winston Churchill said that “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” The same can be said for the church. Even the best congregations – the ones that constantly remind themselves who they represent and how that should effect their behavior – can mess up. Event the best Christians can sin. Even the best pastors can fail.
Church is the people of God who gather to do the work of Jesus Christ. We will disagree – we will not do enough – we will miss opportunities – we will fail. The alternative, though, isn’t great. I think back to when my Mom died suddenly 16 years ago – it was a tragic loss. I don’t know how I would have gotten through that loss without knowing that God and the church wept with me. We all need community, and a lot of people have found that in other places – kid’s sports, bars, social clubs, yoga on the beach – and those are fine, to a point. We all need different outlets and interactions to keep our balance. For me, though, the church is different from other forms of social interaction. The church is supposed to be the place we go where we aren’t doing it for ourselves – we are doing it for others, and we are doing it for God. The great failure of the Church is exactly that it has become more about what it can do for the individual, rather than how it can get the individual to do for others. God is at the center, not us.
This shift has changed our culture, and not for the better. This move towards self-centered Christianity (there’s an oxymoronic statement!) has turned us against each other. Our political divide is partly based on our religious divides. The church has become, in many ways, hard hearted like Pharoah. Instead of helping pregnant young women in their struggle, some Christians have condemned them. Instead of welcoming LGBTQ people, most churches have shunned them. Instead of challenging our nation to work towards peace, we have cheered it on to wage war. Instead of defending the environment, we have assisted in its murder.
The church needs to better – we need to do better. Find a place that tries its best to be inclusive, humble, and helpful. That is what church should be.
Prayer – Forgive us, O God, when our personal desires for fulfillment get in the way of Your needs. Turn us around, back towards the light. Amen.
Today’s picture is a nod to diversity and Zoom.
A WORD (OR TWO) FROM PASTOR STEVE
When I came to Calvary in 1999, I told the congregation that someday we would stop using paper for newsletters and deliver it by email and by posting it on our website. This is finally going to happen – now. If you don’t have email, we will send it in the mail, or if email doesn’t work for you, let us know, and we will mail it to you by snail mail. It is my hope that this accomplish a number of things:
1 – Save us money and the hassle of dealing with postal problems.
2 – Allow us to get the news to you faster and more often.
3 – Save some trees and help the environment.
Let us know what you think – we want you to be informed so that you can be more active in the life of the church. I look forward to your comments.
We will continue to record Sunday Worship. YouTube link will be provided via email, on our newsletter, and here on our website. Click and enjoy!
Someone will be in the office every morning, and food will be distributed from 8-1 M-F. Thank you for your understanding
Bible Study – For those who would like to attend on-line bible study every week, a Zoom link will be provided for you to join on this website, by email and could be found on our weekly newsletter.
ZOOM Bible Study link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5859764743
You can donate food in the morning M-F, please call the office to make sure someone is in. As always, your help is greatly appreciated!