Thursday, April 2, 2015

C: For the Church, which needs to be a verb


I went to Holy Thursday service tonight, my first time ever. Our ecumenical community has an intimate service with foot washing and Eucharist, and we opened with the hymn, "What Is This Place." Words from the third verse describe what I believe the church should be: 

"Here in this world, dying and living,
We are each other’s bread and wine.
This is the place where we can receive what we need to increase:
Our justice and God’s peace."

Apparently, some staunch Catholics believe this hymn is heretical, which makes it far more appealing to me!

As Brian Doyle writes in his rant against the Catholic Church, "The Church should be a verb. When it is only a noun it is not what the Founder asked of us. Let us pray that we are ever after dissolving the formal officious arrogant thing that wants to rise, and ever fomenting the contradictory revolutionary counter-cultural thing that could change life on this planet."

The "fussy fidgety prim tin-eared thirst for control and rules and power and money" is one of the reasons I struggle with the official Catholic church, not to mention conservative Protestant denominations.

I ask you, what would Jesus do? Surely he would not come up with a list of who is not allowed at his table. He would not tell women, gays and lesbians, people who use birth control or have abortions, or divorcees that they are somehow "less than" or cannot be ordained as clergy. He would not have supported political candidates that spurn the poor or needy. What has happened to his church?

Furious Prayer for the Church I Love and Have Always Loved but Which Drives Me Insane with Its Fussy Fidgety Prim Tin-Eared Thirst for Control and Rules and Power and Money Rather than the One Simple Thing the Founder Insisted On

Granted, it's a tough assignment, the original assignment. I get that. Love--Lord help us, could we not have been assigned something easier, like astrophysics or quantum mechanics? 

But no--love those you cannot love. Love those who are poor and broken and fouled and dirty and sick with sores. Love those who wish to strike you on both cheeks. Love the blowhard, the pompous ass, the arrogant liar. Find the Christ in each heart, even those. Preach the Gospel and only if necessary talk about it. Be the Word. 

It is easy to advise and pronounce and counsel and suggest and lecture; it is not so easy to do what must be done without sometimes shrieking. Bring love like a bright weapon against the dark. 

The Rabbi did not say build churches, or retreat houses, or secure a fleet of cars for general use, or convene conferences, or issue position papers. He was pretty blunt about the hungry and the naked and the sick. 

He was not reasonable; we forget this. The Church is not a reasonable idea. The Church should be a verb. When it is only a noun it is not what the Founder asked of us. 

Let us pray that we are ever after dissolving the formal officious arrogant thing that wants to rise, and ever fomenting the contradictory revolutionary counter-cultural thing that could change life on this planet. It could, you know. Let's try again today. And so: amen.

Here's more information on why I chose this focus for the A to Z, and you can read all my 2015 A to Z posts here. I hope you enjoy the celebrations of the miracle and muddle of the ordinary! 

You can buy the book at Brian's favorite local bookstore, Broadway Books, at Powell's Books, or on AmazonBrian's work is used with permission of Ave Maria Press.

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