by Andrew Stephens-Rennie
As Ericka and I prepare to move to Ottawa next week, my mind is drawn towards the projects that lay before me this fall. Working alongside and for the church is going to be, I think, a great challenge.
I love the church so much, get frustrated with her so easily, and want to strive to see her in better health and in better spirits. Not only for her own sake, but for the sake of the world around me, the world around us.
The church is supposed to be a place where others can see evidence of God’s enduring promises. The church is supposed to be a place to which people are drawn because of the wisdom she has, a wisdom she has received from God.
But so often, and in so many cases, the church is not who or what she is supposed to be. So often, and in so many cases, the church is (as Miroslav Volf notes) just as insipid as the culture or cultures to whom and for whom and in whom she is called to minister.
A community that is supposed to be a light to the world around it needs to shine a light. It needs to be a loving, welcoming community. And this love and welcome needs to extend well beyond Sunday mornings.
Such welcome, love, and ultimately hospitality, needs to be practiced in the dark alleyways and bustling city streets just as much as in the sacred chambers designated for worship.
I suspect that if we entered into true worship, we would then demonstrate God’s worth-ship through all of our actions, and stop restricting such hospitality to one day of seven.
The question that always comes to my mind as I’m thinking such thoughts is the simple, yet defensive “but how?”
It seems so monumental a task. To dig into the neighbourhood, or a group of people, to find out what’s going on, to seek to understand how we can become a more loving people, seems like a whole lot of work. And I rarely feel up to the task.
Perhaps that’s why God is sending me. Perhaps that is why God is sending us. All of us. To preach good news to the broken, because we ourselves are broken. Perhaps wholeness brings complacency, where brokenness articulates the reality of our common condition.
Perhaps wholeness is an illusion that prevents us from identifying with our neighbours who suffer the same afflictions we do.
Perhaps we need to listen more to the God who habitually calls the one with a stutter to be a great orator. The one without strength to be a warrior. The one who curses God to become God’s most outspoken champion.