I want the church to feel like to church.
A Cross at the center and a Bible in the pulpit.
A Robe and stoll
I want the seasons: Advent, Epiphany, Baptism of the Lord, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Transfiguration, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, Pentecost, Christ the King Sunday, Ordinary Time
I want the church to feel like church.
I want to look over and see the young couple, newly married talking to the elderly man, recently widowed. I want the row of church ladies who sit in their same pew every week and save a seat for Maxine and Myrna. I want the children with their baggies of cheerios and the parents with their cups of coffee. I want the men in ties and coats sitting next to the teenagers with ripped jeans and tie dye shirts. I want the prayers for those in the hospital and the shared news of the child being deployed. I want the embrace of the college student home over break, and the thrill of the new baby in the stroller. I want the safe place to talk about suicide and abuse, job loss, and depression. I want the disagreements over politics and discussions over culture. I want the feel of the bulletin, the smell of the candles, the order of worship, the confession of sins and above all, I want laughter.
Laughter at our humanity. Laughter at the joy of being together. Laughter at the ways we take ourselves so seriously. Laughter at the celebration of life. Laughter at the profound privilege of being able to worship and sit in the presence of God. I want to be so overwhelmed by the joy of being in the presence of God, that we cannot help but laugh as Sarah did and sing as Mary did and pray as Hannah did and wrestle as Jacob did and argue as Moses did and weep as Jesus did and confess as Paul did and preach as Peter did.
I want to sing and believe that a weary world can rejoice. I want “Merry Christmas” to mean “Jesus Christ is born in you.” I want “Happy Easter” to mean “He is Alive.” I want an authentic place of prayer and spiritual enlightenment, a place where you can walk in the door and lay your cross at the door, and come in and sit and cry and think and be without fear of judgment. Just come and be yourself.
God, I love the church. I love it for all of its quirks and crazy. I love it for trying so hard to get it right. I love it for its downfalls and pitfalls and struggles and history. I love it for its desire to be the Kingdom of heaven on earth — a truly unobtainable mission statement, and yet one that it strives for, without delay. I love it for its desire to be Jesus – to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visited the imprisoned, welcome the stranger. I love it for its confession that it fails and its repentance to start over..
God, I love the church. I love it for the saints who have gone before. I love it for the saints who played the organ and taught Sunday school and put oil in the candles and set the Table. I love it for the ministers who have served and retired or have entered the Kingdom of Heaven. I love it for their sermons they preached and the hands they held and the meetings they ran and the divisions they tried to mend. I love it for all of the ways in which we have almost killed it, but somehow, by the grace of God it is still alive.
I love that in the next day, all around the world, people will make their obligatory twice a year pilgrimage to church and sit in their winter coats, crammed into the pews their grandparents faithfully sat in every Sunday and the little white candles will be passed down the row, and the flames will shine on their faces and I have a view from the front and I see, that the light does indeed shine in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it.
Come, Lord Jesus. Be born in us today. Let your church live.