God is Calling
I have been thinking of how wonderful it is to be part of the church - the body of Jesus Christ on earth. I love it when people come together to worship God, to take time to teach children and youth, to prepare funeral diners, to sew to create items of beauty and warmth for others, when people work in ClothesLine, and when we pray together for others in need. As a pastor I appreciate when someone tells me that the preached word offered them a glimpse of the Kingdom. It is always a special time when in the sacrament of Holy Communion the body and blood of Christ is placed in outstretched hands.
Sometimes the church isn't wonderful. Conflict, bureaucracy, passive aggression, prejudice, discrimination, perceptions of irrelevancy - all of this is also part of the church. Too often the church does not speak to issues of injustice or even participates in doing harm.
The examples of this that are on many people's minds are the tensions and issues that seem to arise daily regarding race and how we relate to one another. Ugly situations have occurred and the anger and the blame quickly erupt.
The other issue, especially in Pennsylvania, is the grand jury report addressing sexual abuse in the state's Roman Catholic dioceses. In the words of Rev. Liddy Barlow, head of Christian Associates of Southwest Pa.,
"How could anyone love the church when faced with 887 pages of the deepest kind of individual and institutional brokenness? The sins reported in the report are almost too weighty to bear. Again and again, the church abandoned its foundational duty to care for the most vulnerable. Although practices have improved tremendously in more recent decades, the pain of these past failures remains...The presence of sin in the church is nothing new. Since Judas took his seat at the Last Supper the church has been marred by the sin of its members."
In times like these, it is important to remember that the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is still present. He brings us as individuals and as the church new life and reconciliation. His grace and power are ever present for us as He calls us in the church to work for justice, forgiveness, and his truth as we follow him.
Still in one peace,
Pastor Elaine Hower