Friday 21 December 2012

What’s church for, anyway?

On WordPress appeared on a blog the question: What’s church for, anyway?

The writer of the article had several questions on his  mind about faith, the way of worshipping, commuting and meeting.

He had been following along with according to him a really interesting conversation on a couple different blogs lately that feeds into some stuff that’s been floating around in my head lately. Namely:
  • What’s church for?
  • Why do people go to church?
  • What role should churches and religious institutions and communities play in the world?
  • Do people of faith live out their spiritual or religious ideas/beliefs/inclinations in the world? Should they? How? Why? Why not?
One of the conversationalists when he grew older his relationship to the church waned, but for him Jesus  seemingly never did.He found his way back to his, probably original, faith. His journey took him through twists and turns of self discovery, listening to some telling him he should never come out if he knew what was good for him. His faith was like shifting sand. The faith of his friend — from his point of view — has been like a rock: weathered, beautiful, solid and still there. Today they would say of themselves that they are both deeply faithful people.
what is important is that faith should move mountains.

One of the debaters is a 'father' in the Old Catholic church who saw himself suddenly confronted with the remark “And pray that they don’t become child molesters” when he had written “Please pray for our Seminarians, as they take the next step in their preparation for the Priesthood. Pray that the Lord will continue to send workers for the vineyard.”

He works with youth, has small siblings that he adores, and he loves little kids. He likes to smile and wave at little kids on the bus, make funny faces and place peek-a-boo with babies in strollers, coo and grin, and he feels now like he can no longer do those things; or he has to be incredibly cautious when he do them lest he be seen as threatening. It makes him angry. And sad.
He is angry at the people who use the abusers to blame and scapegoat queer people. He is angry at all of the people who think that queer people are sexual deviants, sinners, or predators. He is angry that instead of figuring out who the actual abusers are and getting them the help they need that the community instead scapegoat queer people.

To me, he seems to forget that that he has to bear a social function of an example of a child of God. In the Catholic Church it may happen a lot that there are queer priests, who may consider it a normal thing. They even often do not understand why today they will always been seen as a double threat, both for being a priest and also for their queerness. It makes him sad that he has to worry about greeting children, that he can’t be himself.

He wants to reclaim the priesthood. He wants to reclaim the image of the Priest as the person who shows up when you are in need, who helps to craft rituals that bring life meaning, who walks with people in their lives and spiritual journeys. He wants "to take back the collar as a sign of hope and blessing" he says.But is that collar really the sign of hope and blessing, and does it represent the work of the Elohim Most High God?

He would like to reclaim the idea that priests are people who can be trusted, but seemingly forgets what damage that church has done in the past and how many representatives have lied so much the last few years.How can he want to earn the trust of people. He would like people to begin to see the collar as something trustworthy again, as a symbol of something good but forgets that several of his colleagues have damaged the church in general horribly.

In many countries the paedophile priests not only damaged the soul of their victims, they made that people got enough from church and the religious institutions.

 On of the other respondents says: "When a person, organization, or government opposes the full equality of queer people, they create a gulf between themselves and me. If there is division when queers come out or speak up, we do not create it; we simply bring attention to the division which is already there, a division we did not create."
"I am no longer a member of the church I grew up in. Though the process of separating myself from my church was painful at the time, it was inevitable. My church had cut me out of its body long before I came out."

Brian Gerald Murphy, an activist, author, and entrepreneur, asks his readers to leave their churches that exclude queer people and join congregations that affirm them. He asks his readers to cultivate a chosen family that is full of lesbian, gay, transgender, and queer folks.

It looks also like several of those 'different feeling' people want the world to believe all this would have to be accepted as the normal standard and that we should work with them to build solidarity movements that cut across race, class, nationality, immigration status, physical and mental ability, and any other gulf of division which has been created to keep them apart (according to their saying). They ask that believers would leave the places which divide and join the places which empower.

They wonder if God is someone who wants us to ultimately take charge of our own destiny and to make our own decisions, regardless of what those choices are? Or does God demand self-emptying and, ultimately, to recognize that He is Creator and we are all his creatures, not in burdensome slavery but in joyful surrender? Was Adam’s choice a once-and-for-all choice for mankind? Or do we each get to choose anew?

I think we all have to face a personal road where we ourselves have to make our own decisions.  I am afraid, no matter how you turn it, each of us has to take on his or her responsibility in their own choices. In constantly inspecting and examining him or herself. To be courageous and unrelenting. This may be scary stuff but it is what is demanded by the Creator Himself. To question one’s self. One’s foundations. The things one holds dearly.

Each person has to decide if they want to be part of the World or be part of Jehovah God.

Each person has to make the choice what to believe and how to handle this faith. Each person is himself or herself responsible for the attitude they take.

People do like to put labels on everything and to qualify people and everything else in "boxes".

Those bloggers got *shocked*  when they  re-read the gospel of Luke, and when they where to re-remember just how RADICAL Jesus is. According to them he is constantly going against the grain of (Roman, pharisaic) society–standing for the oppressed, etc – and he is 'public' about it. Explicitly so. "I guess he never issued a hard-copy, political statement, but his followers sure did: that’s how we have the Gospels."   wrote. "So what does that mean for contemporary followers of Jesus? Is it enough to support only the queer people who come through the doors of our congregations? But what about those who never find the Porch?" She has her tears confusing her, because as far as she can tell, she is not sad about getting older. She greet her thirties with mostly enthusiasm, knowing many undiscovered things await her in the next decade. But as the dawn of her life breaks to late-morning sunshine, she is left to wonder: as new opportunities open up, which opportunities are closing to her?

Every person in the world would like to know where he or she stands in the universe. Every human being wants to be part of humanity and being appreciated and being recognised. We all want some place in the community.

Being part of the community often brings people also to wanting to find a place in the small community of the city, town or village. Parish life becomes important and one to be part of.

When we walk around in our small world, we shall give impressions to others. No matter how, but the way we dress, the way we look, the way we act, the way we talk, send out political messages to others. Even regardless of our intent. You may question if we can control the way we are perceived, but we should understand and be conscious that all of us enter into the world each day as political actors, whether we like it or not. People will read us a certain way, even if they themselves also have a responsibility to look past the surface. The question at hand is: is that important to you? And if so, what are you going to do about it?

For a person of godly faith this should be very much important. Our attitude should be an example to others and should be a proof of the choices we have made in our life.The way we behave should show to others that we are followers of Christ Jesus and that we do want to follow Christ and God's commandments.

In a way we should show others that we have given ourselves in the hands of Jesus, our master teacher, and are willing not to take ourselves as the king of the universe, but to accept him as the mediator between God and us.

For religious institutions, religious houses or churches, and spiritual communities it should be alike. They should be an example to the world and let it see where they stand for, what they believe, and who they want to follow. The institution has to make it clear if it wants to gain popularity by the masses, the popular crowd of this world, or perhaps to be not in agreement with the majority of people, and not be so popular by every body, but separated a little bit by keeping to the rules dictated in very old scriptures.

Some may think we do not need to reach out our hands to help our neighbours, because we are our neighbours, connected through a common humanity. In this kind of construct, we don’t have the privilege to “struggle” with an “issue”, but in the community we do have to stick out our hand to others, willing to care for the other person and willing to go together on the road in which we do believe that it shall bring us to a better life.

The ecclesia or church, should be the meeting place where everybody is assembling, willing to accept each other with his or her own peculiarity. It should be the place where everybody is not only willing to “walk the walk” in their personal lives, but also to bind themselves together to create a collective power in order to combat systemic injustice.

As the blogger Alison rightly says: "Jesus didn’t live in a vacuum: the parables he taught, the people he embraced, and the illnesses he healed made social commentaries upon the world around him. He upset people in power, and was killed because of it. If we really live in the model that Jesus set, then we are also called to fight the abuses of power in our world. But first we actually need to name what is wrong with the way things are, and envision what a better world might look like, especially if we expect things to change."

Many people are afraid to "name" those things or to say where they stand for or what they really believe. Lots of things in this world go wrong because people do not tell the truth or do not show their real "me", their real own personality, afraid of what other might think. Openness is some thing where we should strive for in a community where brotherly love should come in the first place.

Christians should be followers of Christ Jesus and come together to meet each other as brothers and sister, making a town of Christ or a Christadelphia.

In history sadly enough, churches have sidestepped the toughest questions: slavery, discrimination, homophobia, poverty, political corruption, and the failings of marriage. Today we see the price they pay for being permitted to operate publicly and Music&Meaning thinks it is wise to keep some psychological distance when in church.But in church we should keep an open mind and be willing to discuss all sorts of problems with each other. Yes it may be a debating place, but such one that everything is compared with what is written in the Bible, the Word of God. It is that Word of the Most High which should be our major guide.

Those gathering in a private house, a public hall or church-building, in the name of God, should try to dispose themselves of labelling people. We have to disembarrass our selves and share the best of ourselves with others, freeing ourselves of the burdens of this commercial world.

But it may not be a place where we strip all the values and ethics just to let all sorts of people feel at ease. Never may the group of people elude the teachings of Christ and circumvent the commandments of God to gain popularity. That is what happened in the past so much with many churches.

Even when being in the 21st century, we should go back to the roots of the first century, and learn from the apostles meeting. Though it may look old fashioned and not of this time to still keep up a tradition or wanting to meet like they did two millennia ago. Be sure, in the New testament we do find the example how to make church, and that is still valid today.

Church should be the place where everybody can find comfort and come closer to God.


Articles spoken about in this writing:

  1. What’s church for, anyway?
  2. the greatest of these is love
  3. Collars and Queers 
  4. A Glimpse Inside 
  5. Division & Solidarity: A letter to straight allies
  6. What boxes are you stuck in?
  7. What’re some of the boxes you’ve escaped from?


Find also:
  1. What and why Ecclesia

  2. The Ecclesia in the churchsystem

  3. Christadelphians today

  4.  Follower of Jesus part of a cult or a Christian
  5. Not bounded by labels but liberated in Christ
  6. Salvation, trust and action in Jesus #3 as a Christian
  7. Self-development, self-control, meditation, beliefs and spirituality
  8. Answering a fool according to his folly
  9. Following a Compassionate Lord
  10. Feeling-good, search for hapiness and the church
  11. Breathing to teach
  12. Breathing and growing with no heir
  13. Slave for people and God
  14. Worship and worshipping
  15. Judeo-Christian values and liberty
  16. Manifests for believers #1 Sex abuse setting fire to the powder
  17. Manifests for believers #2 Changing celibacy requirement
  18. Manifests for believers #3 Catholic versus Protestant
  19. Manifests for believers #4 Eucharist
  20. Manifests for believers #5 Christian Union


Find also articles on:
, , , , , , , Being Christian, following Jesus Christ, Churchplanning, , , Ecclesia, , Manners and Association, Meeting, ,

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