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Monday, June 26, 2017

Love the Church

After spending five days immersed in the quadrennial family reunion that is General Assembly, I came home and crashed before 9:30pm and slept all night (11 hours straight).  If you know me, you also know this is outlandishly strange.  I'm exhausted.

In recent days, I have made a concerted effort to curb the sarcasm and frustration and to discard the cynicism altogether.  I’m making progress.  I had exactly three moments, this week, when I felt that I absolutely must share my frustration in the social media world.  Two of them were entirely justified and the other was actually more of an opportunity to discuss how we might do better in the future, so I’m going to move that one from the ‘eye roll column’ to the ‘be a part of the solution column.’

We do have to do better, but we also have to love the Church.

Scratch that.  Perhaps we have to do better, because we love the Church.

And I mean the Church, universal, but I also mean whatever small part of the Church in which we happen to find ourselves—the ‘big C’ Church and the ‘little c’ church. 

And friends… this can be hard for me.

It hasn’t always been hard.  There’s always been a struggle of sorts, but in earlier days it was a struggle for the church, not against her.  And then life happened.  And then some more life happened.  And I did, indeed, find myself in a place where my story resonated far too deeply with all the other stories of people who have suffered hurt at the hands of the church.

Interestingly, though, I’m not too interested in living that particular narrative anymore.  I’d rather live into the one where I love the Church so much I will kick and scream and fight to remain a part of her, precisely because I do have something to offer, precisely because I can be a part of the ‘better.’

That’s not me patting myself on the back, please don’t misunderstand.  But, shouldn’t we all want this?  Shouldn’t we all desire to be a part of the body that functions and loves and redeems?  My tribe is focusing on Ephesians 4 as we participate in conventions and assembly:

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (v. 4-6, NIV).

In a world where we often have divergent beliefs and opinions, even among those whom we love deeply; unity in diversity can be an enormous challenge.  But maybe we could sit with this for just awhile.  Maybe, we could truly embrace, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things love” (often attributed to Augustine but modified over the years by enough people that it is difficult to source…  I most recently heard it quoted by the character of Phineas Bresee in a movie about his life, which I was privileged to watch at its premiere on Saturday afternoon).

I’m not sure any of us has time to argue about things that don’t matter that much when there is so much work to be done, not to be perfect, but just to be better…


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