Saturday, December 08, 2012

Picking up some church trash

2 Corinthians 6:3-11
“Don't put it off; don't frustrate God's work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we're doing. 4 Our work as God's servants gets validated - or not - in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; 5 when we're beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; 6 with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; 7 when we're telling the truth, and when God's showing his power; when we're doing our best setting things right; 8 when we're praised, and when we're blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; 9 ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; 10 immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all. 11 Dear, dear Corinthians, I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life.”
A church affiliated non-profit agency was forced out of business last Friday.  About three months ago when it became evident that they were not getting any more funding, the first thing cut was the bag lunches for the homeless.

Upon arriving early Monday morning, I found they had dragged the remnants of the last management party to the dumpster but did not throw it in.  Over the weekend, the coons and squirrels had a party of their own eating the leftovers of the last party by the agency.  Expensive coffee, expensive bagels (I am avoiding brand names), unfinished very nice sandwiches partially eaten either by humans or the animals of the night made up the trash.

Over the last five years the arrogance of the people at this agency has been a topic of debate among other tenants of the building.  These people were smug, arrogant, cold, and distant and had open disdain for those they were to serve.  People felt the agency’s demise was well deserved but…as a para-church organization, their example can poison non-believer’s hearts.  In away, they represented all Christians—us, if we share the name Christian.

As we picked up the trash, a bitter young man (rightly so) pointed out their hypocrisy.  Closing down the bag lunch ministry (white bread, peanut butter and apple) while they ate and wasted much expensive food.

I now understand why Jesus wants to spit out the lukewarm ones of us; we make Jesus want to puke.  Any blog or sermon that points out our own hypocrisy is not well received. 
Recently a well-established professional in a medium size rural Minnesota town (an elder in the church) told me that if we confront ourselves, no one will listen.  He said to me, “You’re just another Jeremiah no one will listen to.”  We need to do some serious soul searching both personally and collectively as Christians and as the church.  The down and out of our communities do not seek us out because we do not rub shoulders with them…we don’t want to.  Yes, we can eat our expensive bagels, drink our expensive coffee, enjoying our personal Christian ghetto but looking away with disdain when, after a night of overdrinking, they mess their pants.

We are told to “feed the sheep” – all of them.  Feeding sheep is sometimes a downright smelly, dirty business.  The bottom line is that the lukewarm ones of us don’t want to be bothered or to get dirty.  Yes, we smugly drink and eat on in holiday merriment while our brothers and sisters slide into hell.
Remember the words of 2 Corinthians 6:3-11 at the beginning of this blog.  Forgive me; help us Oh Lord… send us a Jeremiah…change our hearts Oh God.

Two quotes from the White Horse Inn Blog Spot:
In the time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
George Orwell

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing it, doesn’t go away”
Philip K. Dick


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