Is the Church Relevant?

I just heard from someone very dear to me in a congregation I once served.  Apart from the sheer delight of seeing her lovely handwritten note, her words about how well the hot meal program that the congregation started, shortly before I left, made my heart swell.  At first I thought of how proud I am of the work they've done.  But, pride isn't the word for this--this stepping outside of the usual comfort of doing what has always been done and embracing the possibility of making change in both their neighborhood and in their lives.  For this congregation, what has "what has always been" has given way to "what can we do now?"  A better word would be "inspired" and "hopeful" or even "filled".

Inspired because, well, they did it.  In the midst of major change and hurting hearts, they stepped up and decided that the command to serve their neighbors superseded their fear of what was to come and how they would survive.

Hopeful, because in the midst of so many dire words about the "death of the CHURCH" I see a congregation that is working hard to remain relevant and faithful to the Gospel.  They didn't need a priest or other authority to tell them if they would make it or not--nor if they "could" or not.  They witnessed to what it can mean to BE the church.

Filled, with joy and with yearning--because I love these folk, and I miss them.  But, being far away and knowing that they continue in their ministry makes me glad that I got to journey for a bit with them.  It makes me glad to know that this place was my son's first church home and that for a brief while I got to gently place into their upturned hands the body of Christ--a body which they have ever been part of and continue to be as they fulfill their callings.

The church IS relevant.  In a myriad of ways small and big and seemingly small and seemingly big.  When the body of Christ is transformed into a meal for 100 hungry bellies, when a sip of wine becomes a fountain with enough for all of the thirsty...well, it is then that the Church at it's truly best.

So, in some ways the gift I was given today was a reminder to ignore the bells that portend impending doom and just keep on doing and being--because when you realize that you'll somehow need to stretch the potatoes and get another helping out of the edges of the pan because just one more has become another ten, well it is then that worries about the fate of the church fall away and the being of the church comes to fruition.

Being the Church...

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