When God sets about renewing his Church (whether a part of the One, Holy and Apostolic Church or a Protestant denomination – or all of it as the Body of Christ), it is more often than not a very messy, nasty undertaking. Entrenched interests, “conservative” or “liberal”, fight mightily to stop it (look how the religious leaders of Jesus’ day tried to stop him and the Apostles). There comes a point through the name calling, the casting of dispersions, the casting into outer darkness, and the utter unChrist-like actions, when those most entrenched in the fighting become irreverent to the new thing that God is doing. This happens because, I think, those most enamored with their own positions become blind to what is really going on around them, under them, above them – anywhere but with them. Renewal may mean the death of everything – the end of it all. No more money! Then, perhaps, the reshaping – starting in the very hearts of very real folk – can begin in earnest.
This little rant of mine comes out of this news report of a parish that was once an Episcopal parish that decided to pull-out of the Episcopal Church, tried to keep the property that did not belong to them (according to the very Canons that they agreed to and lived under for for nearly 30-years, particularly considering the vow taken by the then Episcopal priest in charge). They lost the court battle, were told to vacate the original Episcopal congregations building, but couldn’t leave it at that.
Now, I think that much of the way all this has been handled by the national Episcopal Church, dioceses, bishop, priests, and the laity in many of these conflicts has been terrible, but this kind of thing takes the cake, so to speak.
Here is an article describing what happened in: Diocese says Elm Grove’s church’s alter vandalized by evicted group ( ElmGroveNow)
Here is the photo on Facebook of the proud perpetrator of the action: the apse and alter – (Kelsie J. Wendelberger)
I hear and see religious leaders marching, making pronouncements, building a golden calf. Do we have anything unique to say to a frustrated society other than jumping on yet another bandwagon?
Does Jesus really love an unemployed person more than a corporate CEO? Or, does Jesus wish both to reconciliation and transformation for the benefit of their own souls and society.
Do we honesty believe that Jesus is superficial enough to proclaim that he loves the fallible, humanly created Socialist economic system more than the fallible, humanly created Capitalist economic system or visa-versa? Or, might Jesus rather wish that no matter what economic system a society decides, that the people leading and inhabiting that system live such lives that the image of God is evident, regardless? Yet, this requires a way of ordering our lives, with Jesus at the center of our personal perception, that many people have a hard time accepting. (There is nothing new under the sun.)
If we have nothing more to say to society than what people hear on Fox News or MSMBC, then no wonder fewer and fewer people find anything compelling in the Church.
What we proclaim and assert may not be what people wish to hear – that which scratches their itching ears – but we do have a unique message, if only we are secure enough and confident enough to say so.
The unemployed, the poor, the wealthy are all in need to redemption and reconciliation. Evil and good are found in all groups of people and in all systems. This should be our beginning point, rather than jumping on bandwagons that promote social, political, or economic ideologies.
A second photo of the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. Pray for wisdom, discernment, and vision for God’s work in our neighborhood.
Red Hook is a real mix of environments – public housing, hipster lofts, new condos, boarded up buildings, light industry, warehouses, art galleries & good restaurants, and a working port. These are two photographs of the port.