Mother Lily’s Message
My daughter-in-law (a Generation Y person) shared an article on Facebook which talked about why people are leaving the church. My first reaction was, “Well, I don’t re-ally need (want) to read this. I know why people are leaving the church. Reading it is just going to make me sad and tell me something I already know.” But, I decided to give it a go. What I found was a refreshing look at why people are leaving the church. It was not the old argument that they don’t trust the institution. I already knew that chang-ing up the service, tweaking the music, and all sorts of other tricks were not going to make a huge difference when it came to being a place people wanted/needed to be. This article by John Pavlovitz (and he didn’t mince words) made the case that people are leaving the church because the church is silent in ways, right now, that matter to them. He says, “They spend their days with a front row seat to human right atrocities, to growing movements of cruelty, to unprecedented religious hypocrisy, and to political leaders who are antithetical to the heart of Jesus. They live with the relational collateral damage of seeing people they love abandon compassion and de-cency; people who are growing more and more callous to the already vulnerable.” He claims that people want the church to speak into this with boldness and clarity as moral leaders. The songs and the ser-mons and everything else just don’t cut it.
As I was reading this article, I began to think about us. Are we complacent? Are we silent? What would happen if we spoke more boldly into what is taking place in our world today? I am very conscious that the pulpit is not my pulpit on which I get to push my agenda. I have been given the gift to proclaim the Gospel. There is a great deal of responsibility that comes with that. Yet, does that constrict my preach-ing to the point that I am not saying enough? Now, with that in mind, remember the Gospel is political. It continually goes up against what was not right in the world at the time it was written. And, not much has changed when it comes to what needs to be confronted in our world. I believe this is a tricky tightrope we, preachers, must walk. I am being asked to speak to specific atrocities that we are faced with daily in the news, in our lives, in our world, yet to do so with the Gospel, God, the Son and the Holy Spirit as our agents of awareness and change.
I believe in the church. Not as a necessary institution but as a gathering place, an attitude, a people who can further awareness and make change in this world. I believe I have many colleagues out there believ-ing and doing the same. We can confront the atrocities we face with words and actions. We can contin-ue the work of Jesus as God in this world by flipping things on their head. We can help people stand up and take notice. We can do significant work toward righting the wrongs. And, we can do that as “Church”. That is why we gather as a people. Together there is power and there is wisdom. Together we can find the clarity, so that we can go forth speaking, and doing, as a unified body.
If I speak to something and you are not in agreement, please talk with me. Let us find clarity together. What I got from this article is that we need to encourage boldness and we do so by being open to what needs to be said. We don’t stop there. We continue to talk, we explore, and we figure out what God wants of us, here and now.
Blessings to each and every one of you!