Don’t you get tired of church sometimes? What if we all jumped ship, flew a jet, stepped into skiffs and blasted around far northern islands thousands of miles from home? What if we watched whales breathing beside us, marveled at sea lions, walked a spit in the rain, drove together through an ocean storm, picked salmon from the nets? What if we ate fresh salmon and halibut nearly every meal and drank in inky sunsets every night on our own island? Who needs church then? For this week, weren’t we all refugees from church buildings, schedules, sermon preps, hospital visits, congregants' unending needs?
What do we need “church” for, anyway? We gathered here---pastors, missionaries, Christian leaders. We retreated here from distant churches to this Alaskan island---and something amazing, but also quite ordinary happened: we became a Church. Immediately. We cannot seem to help it. And we talked about church. About our own local churches, about the Capital C Church, the body of Christ universal. Led by Scot, we talked about friendship, how necessary it is in this too-alone life. How Paul, even Paul, the great apostle, was bound and dependent on others for who he was and the kingdom work he accomplished. He was not alone, ever.
But we were not running away, any of us. We were running toward and into what we cannot escape, what we never want to be free from: a "rugged commitment" to one another. But many young people are running away from the church. Will the Church survive?
Yes, it’s true. Being together is not always a Sunday picnic, cause we’re not always picnic people, we church people. We’re young and needy, we’re old and needy, we’re fat and thin and pimpled and divorced and widowed and we’re not that cool. We make mistakes. Some like to sing old hymns and wont ever lift their hands, and some love committees and authority way too much, not enough gets done, and why not meet in a movie theater or a bar, commune over beer and be done with “playing church” instead of being the church? Then, what about human trafficking, hunger, racism, the global water crisis, and all the other injustices and ills of the world?
Yes, of course. Yes, of course. We need to be there, together, the body of Christ, the Church, that begins in your neighborhood. The local church can reach across the world to these great needs, but if you won’t reach across to your neighbor, what good is your faith and love? It’s harder to love the next-to-you needy, the different-than-you needy than the exotic faraway needy.
But that’s what we’re called to. We’re called to love the whole of us, the whole cracked, limping mess of gathered redeemed humanness called the Church that meets next door and far away. (Click to tweet)
Won’t you be there? We need you.
As always, thanks so much for being here with us!
Could we share honestly here, without judgment? What keeps you from belonging to a church? How might we in the church address this need?