Monday, January 30, 2012

There's a Welcome Here

As children in Sunday School we would sing the little ditty, “There’s a welcome here, there’s a welcome here, there’s a Christian welcome here.” I was reminded of this song when I read from the blog of friend, Father Eric Kouns the following statement.

Our churches should be hospitals where the pain of disillusionment and disappointment—with ourselves, with our friends and family, and yes, with God—can be acknowledged and healed. Instead, they are too often little more than social clubs where superficial smiles and cursory exchanges cover over the doubts, the questions, the longing for something more and the fear of admitting that in front of all those who, outwardly, seem to have it all together.

Both the words “hospital” and “hospitality” come from the same root, expressing the idea of offering healing as a welcome to hurting people. How many times do we enter our churches with a heavy heart and leave the same way, or worse? It is my prayer that God will sensitize me to my brothers and sisters in Christ and see them as needy as I know myself to be.

I have attended services in churches where certain people with strong personalities, or those with differing opinions from the majority, or those who don’t fit in, have actually been shunned. I have heard unwelcoming rhetoric and observed church families that operate more like social cliques. In fact, some churches act as though they would rather people with needs wouldn’t bother to come. Things just get a little too uncomfortable with them there.

At the very least, we as Christians need to be aware of others as Christ would be. It may take some insightful awareness, some patience, and some genuine concern to minister to others in our churches. But, if we expect our congregation members to go out into the worlds in which they live on Monday through Saturday and be Christ’s people there, we must offer each other a place of healing and authentic Christian love when we meet together on Sundays.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Bouncer

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:15

He looked huge, and burly. He pushed his way into a crowd of characters he had corralled in the main lobby at my school. Earlier he had gone into every nook and cranny of the building to find them. I knew the dark characters’ names: Violence, Disrespect, Disruption, Rebellion, Anger, Low Self-Image, Depression, Bitterness, Grumbling, and Contention. In my mind’s eye I saw this nine-foot angel of light grab two of the screaming characters by the nap of the neck and usher them down the hallway to the main entrance. Without so much as a pause, he threw them out the door. Then he turned and came back in for two more. This angel responded to my prayers because I came to God in despair over the terrible behaviors I saw coming from students and staff members, and I felt exhausted in the battle. Even by the next day, I saw some marked improvements in my classes. The characters would be back, but for this time, our school remained off limits.

Sometimes we can clearly see the sinful world around us, but other times it seems that we have blind eyes. By naming the spiritual forces that we see at work in our workplaces, our homes and even in our churches, God enables us to pray His power over them. When we pray in Jesus’ name, we join with Him in defeating the powers and authorities of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil. He already disarmed them on the cross, but we appropriate His power when we pray. What spiritual forces operate in the places where you live? Ask God to clearly show you their ugly faces and deeds. Then, in Jesus’ name and in His power, pray for their dismissal.