Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Holy Week, The Death of Church

The single most important week of the year is upon us. This week we track Jesus as he moves from the upper room, to the cross, to the grave, and finally to resurrection. Without these events which we celebrate this week, the Church would be pointless. This is also the week where many people who have filled in the box Christian on the questionnaire remember there is the place called the church where the Christians gather. The rest of the year with the exception of Christmas unless it doesn't fit the schedule, many live lives disconnected from Christ and the church which he founded. Then Holy Week comes and there seems to be a remembrance of being Christian.

It might seem that my tone in the above paragraph is sarcastic or condescending. This may be, however it is not my intent. There is no redemption is being condescending toward the way people have chosen to carve out their lives. Rather I want to offer another option for how we interact with Christ through the church. It begins with a confession. I am going to be so bold as to offer a confession and apology on behalf of the church. For far too long the church has not looked like its creator intended it to. There has been more concern over human developed rules and regulations than following the works and teachings of God through Jesus Christ. It seems as though more attention is paid to who is wearing what clothes, or if the people are behaving as is considered to be appropriate. Basically, the church has become stuffy, judgmental and missing the point. I for one say I am sorry to all the people who are turned off by the church.

It is a tragedy that we in the church have not been able to keep the life of Christ so visible in our community that we actually turn people off to God. It is not the fault of those who attend church once or twice a year that their memory of being a Christian is so short-lived. It is the church which has faltered. In many cases we have taken the most exciting invitation of hope, and made it mundane, boring, or even irrelevant to most people's lives. No wonder people have trouble remembering they are a Christian until the egg laying bunny shows up. Christmas and Easter Christians is the lingo used in church circles to describe the folks who only show up twice a year. I was taught all through seminary and my early years as a pastor to have a mild if not full out disdain for folks in that category. I am deeply regretful to say that for years I was sucked into such reasoning. Now, I see things a little differently.

I am sorry the church has so lost is way that it has become boring, and just another thing on an overloaded to do list. It grieves me to think the church has become a place where we talk about Jesus but never live like Jesus. People hold the church to be a optional part of their life because the church has allowed itself to become trivial to the day-to-day life of those who would follow Christ. Perhaps it is not the individuals who need to remember they are Christian. Perhaps it is the church which needs to remember what it is about.

I wonder what would happen if in the next few days churches all around the world used the events of Holy Week to truly follow Jesus. That on Thursday night, we would dine with Jesus at the table celebrating the God who brings people from captivity to freedom. Then of Friday as we reconnect with the death of Christ, we would nail ourselves and the church to the cross and let it die. What if we crucified the church and buried it Friday night? Then on Sunday morning allow God to bring forth new life. I wonder what would happen if churches didn't just talk about the resurrection this Sunday, not just experience it like a TV show. What if the church of Jesus Christ embraced new life and vitality.

May we the church die this week, so that we might experience resurrection. May we no longer serve the forces of injustice, and may we no longer trivialize the most important message for all of humanity. The life and work of Jesus Christ is too important to reduce it to human derived rules and regulations. It is time for the church to be free. A place where Christ is not simple talked about, or simply celebrated, rather a place where Christ is embodied. May the Spirit of God sweep through our churches, revive us, make us whole again.


Bill Gottschalk-Fielding said...

Thanks, Aaron. You nailed it. We in the Church have much to atone for. But I'm grateful for the word of hope you lead us to.

"What if the church of Jesus Christ embraced new life and vitality?"

There'd be nothing we couldn't accomplish for Jesus.

慧珊志正 said...

It's great!!..................................................