Back in the 1700’s song writer Charles Wesley, his brother, John Wesley, and Richard Pilmore, were holding an outdoor service, when a mob attacked them pelting them with stones. They were compelled to flee for their lives. They found shelter behind a hedge. When night came they found their way to a deserted spring-house, where they struck a light with a flint-stone, washed their faces in the clear, cold water, brushed the dirt from their clothes, and felt at least a moment’s security from the missiles which had pelted them. Charles Wesley had with him a piece of lead hammered out into a pencil. He pulled it from his pocket, and composed this hymn: “Jesus, lover of my soul, Let me to thy bosom fly; While the nearer waters roll, While the tempest still is high!”
Wesley was thankful to God for the shelter he had found in the spring-house. And he wrote of a place of shelter open to all in Christ. People still need a shelter from life’s storms. People still need a place of quiet refuge. People still need a place where they can connect with one another and with God. The church has what we want.
- To Serve Others (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
Professor and preacher Fred Craddock tells about visiting a church one time where he was supposed to hold services on Friday evening, Saturday evening, and Sunday morning. When he pulled into the parking lot of the church, a funeral was concluding. People were moving to their automobiles; the hearse was still there. The minister saw him, recognized him, and motioned for him to come over. Craddock didn’t want to intrude; he was just waiting until the funeral was over. He was standing next to the widow. The pastor introduced her to Craddock, and Craddock felt awkward. He said to her, “This is no time for you to be meeting strangers. I’m sorry, and I’m really sorry about your loss.” Her husband had been killed in a car wreck and left her with four children. He said, “I know this is a very difficult time for you.”
She said, “It is. So I won’t be at the services tonight, but I’ll be there tomorrow night, and I’ll be there Sunday morning.”
Like any sensible and caring person, Craddock said, “Oh, you don’t need to.”
“Yes, I do,” she said.
He said, “Well, what I meant was, I know it’s a very hard time.”
And she said, “I know it’s hard. It’s already hard, but you see, this is my church, and they’re going to see that my children and I are okay.”
My church is going to see that we are okay. Isn’t that what a church is supposed to be all about?
Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest.
Filed under Church, Comfort
Henri Nouwen, the great spiritual writer, was going to a monastery for a retreat. The monks observed vows of silence and the retreat was to be meditative and prayerful. Nouwen was delayed and was late getting to the Monastery on a very miserable, rainy night. Upon his arrival, he rang the bell and was met at the door by one of the brothers. He warmly greeted Henri, took his wet coat, took him to the kitchen and made him a cup of tea. They chatted into the late night hours and Nouwen began to relax and feel ready for the retreat. He knew this monk was supposed to observe silence, so he finally asked him, “Why are you willing to sit and talk with me?” The monk replied, “Of all the duties of the Christian faith and the rules of my order, none is higher than hospitality.”
The church is a community as well, and hospitality should be a primary focus. Today’s church should be a place of welcome to all who come our way. There should be no connotation that only “rule followers” are welcome at the church. I fear that we have forgotten the concept of radical hospitality and confused it with assimilation into our group. If the church is to practice true hospitality, it must practice inclusiveness. That means no one is barred from total participation in the life of the church. I am concerned that we have lost sight of a most important tenet of Christianity. I thank the monastics for giving us a reminder.
Prayer Thought – Lord help me to remember that the open door of hospitality can have eternal consequences.
The certainty of Christian hope lies beyond passion and beyond knowledge. Therefore we must sometimes expect our hope to come in conflict with darkness, desperation and ignorance. Therefore, too, we must remember that Christian optimism is not a perpetual sense of euphoria, an indefectible comfort in whose presence neither anguish nor tragedy can possibly exist. We must not strive to maintain a climate of optimism by the mere suppression of tragic realities. Christian optimism lies in a hope of victory that transcends all tragedy: a victory in which we pass beyond tragedy to glory with Christ crucified and risen.
It is important to remember the deep, in some ways anguished seriousness of Advent, when the mendacious celebrations of our marketing culture so easily harmonize with our tendencey to regard Christmas, consciously or otherwise, as a return to our own innocence and our own infancy. Advent should remind us that the “King Who is to Come” is more than a charming infant smiling (or if you prefer a dolorous spirituality, weeping) in the straw. There is certainly nothing wrong with the traditional family jours of Christmas, nor need we be ashamed to find ourselves still able to anticipate them without too much ambivalence. After all, that in itself is no mean feat.
But the Church in preparing us for the birth of a “great prophet,” a Savior and a King of Peace, has more in mind than seasonal cheer. The advent mystery focuses the light of faith upon the very meaning of life, of history, of man, of the world and of our own being. In Advent we celebrate the coming and indeed the presence of Christ in our world. We witness to His presence even in the midst of all its inscrutable problems and tragedies. Our Advent faith is not an escape from the world to a misty realm of slogans and comforts which declare our problems to be unreal, our tragedies inexistent…
In our time, what is lacking is not so much the courage to ask this question as the courage to expect an answer…We may at times be able to show the world Christ in moments when all can clearly discern in history, some confirmation of the Christian message. But the fact remains that our task is to seek and find Christ in our world as it is, and not as it might be. The fact that the world is other than it might be does not alter the truth that Christ is present in it and that His plan has been neither frustrated nor changed: indeed, all will be done according to His will. Our Advent is a celebration of this hope.
This a very interesting look at the church in this post modern world. WE all need to take a creful look at the mission of our church.
the long way home
For my Gospel, Culture, and Church course this past week, we had to read the opening chapter of this book on the Church as mission, rather than seeing the Church as something that does mission. We also had to read some mind-blowing pages from Hans Kung’s epic work The Church. It got me thinking a lot about what precisely the “church” is and how it is that thing. I just wanted to share some disjointed thoughts today.
Throughout the readings, the (perhaps over-used) term “Being in Becoming” kept coming to mind. (For my more philosophically-trained friends, forgive me if I’m simplifying this term too much; My main exposure to this has been cursory, in the context of the Trinitarian theology of Karl Barth and how he describes God).
In others words, the Church’s very Being is in its efforts to more faithfully “Become” what it is. It is not…
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Hypocrites in The Church
By Rev. Weldon Bares
( Weldon is Senior Pastor of First Unite Methodist Church of Lake Charles, and a good friend.)
Over the years I have heard many reasons why people don’t go to church.
In my opinion, one of the weakest reasons is when someone claims, “There are so many hypocrites in church, so I am not going to sit among them.”
I cannot argue the fact, hypocrites are in the church. In fact, hypocrites are found everywhere. But I don’t say, “I will no longer go to football games because some people in the stands are not real football fans. Some of those people aren’t really sincere about football, so I will not attend.”
I don’t say, “I am no longer going to concerts because some people in the audience don’t really love music.” I don’t say, “I am no longer going to the movies because some people in the audience at the movie theater are not really sincere about liking movies and are not there for the right reason. Their heart is not in it.”
Certainly, every church has hypocrites. There is no escaping that fact. May God forgive us and help us to do better. But I thank God that there is room for everyone in God’s house: saints, sinners and yes, even hypocrites. There is room for all of us!
- Hypocrites (christianmotivations.weebly.com)
I came across this very good prayer and I thought you might like it. The thoughts in this prayer call us to unity and faith.
ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplications unto thee; and dost promise, that when two or three are gathered together in thy Name thou wilt grant their requests; Fulfil now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of thy servants, as may be most expedient for them; granting us in this world knowledge of thy truth, and in the world to come life everlasting. Amen.
The Prayer of St John Chrysostom from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England