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Monday, March 8, 2010

The Church I Never Served

Some years ago I envisioned the kind of church I would like to serve as minister. Here's what I came up with: St. Luke's Church of the Outcasts. Because Luke's gospel was addressed to those outside the Jewish faith of that time, the gentiles (as he was), his stories of healing and teaching included "outsiders" who were invited to follow Jesus of Nazareth. The poor and the suffering were key characters in the teachings. Harsh words for the religious leaders of the day who danced to the tunes of Rome are recorded.

As for membership, I would personally choose the ones who would be part of this church -- they would include lots of outsiders, lots of actual outcasts of society, but also those with financial means to spread their wealth to the sisters and brothers in need, who also wanted to follow this Jesus. The purpose would be to follow Jesus more than simply to worship him.

Of course, such a dream was never realized, but I think about it every now and then, and wonder how it would work out. I fantasize that this congregation would not have become conflicted, but would have worked out difficulties through mutual love and agreement. I fantasize that the church would become a model for other congregations. I fantasize that the members would become well-versed in scripture so that they could offer sermons and teach classes and hold study sessions, and visit the members.

The reason this dream never was realized has more to do with my cynicism about such a possible church ever coming into being. Human nature is too often susceptible to divisions and conflicts and fears for any such gathering to become reality.

But then, I never tried to find out if it could happen.