Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Church; sinful and saving

In reading the story of Jacob it's a wonder that God's people didn't die out with him. What a loser! How could God build on his foundation? But in thinking about Jacob it dawned on me that the church has been a "Jacob" all along. The church has been the "embarrassing uncle" you don't want people to know about and hope doesn't show up at the family party. It's always been that way and we still read embarrassing things in the newspaper every week about the church. How can it misrepresent God like that? ! Yet God seems pleased to use the church in spite of itself, much like Jacob. And as Jacob proved that he could have his finer moments so does the church. That's what keeps me engaged...wanting those "finer moments" to become more the norm than the exception.

Henri Nouwen's devotional continued to speak on the church today and I pass it along to you...

Over the centuries the Church has done enough to make any critical person want to leave it. Its history of violent crusades, pogroms, power struggles, oppression, excommunications, executions, manipulation of people and ideas, and constantly recurring divisions is there for everyone to see and be appalled by.

Can we believe that this is the same Church that carries in its center the Word of God and the sacraments of God's healing love? Can we trust that in the midst of all its human brokenness the Church presents the broken body of Christ to the world as food for eternal life? Can we acknowledge that where sin is abundant grace is superabundant, and that where promises are broken over and again God's promise stands unshaken? To believe is to answer yes to these questions.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nouwen on Believing in the Church

I get a daily email devotional with thoughts from Henri Nouwen taken from his numerous writings. Today's post on "believing in the Church" is good. I heard Greg Boyd (author and pastor at Woodland Hills Church, St. Paul) say once that one of the biggest obstacles to his faith isn't miracles or the resurrection,etc. but the church. The church doesn't always live up to its calling and that has caused him to doubt God. Maybe you can relate.

With that background listen to Nouwen's words on believing in the church.

The Church is an object of faith. In the Apostles' Creed we pray: "I believe in God, the Father ... in Jesus Christ, his only Son - in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting." We must believe in the Church! The Apostles' Creed does not say that the Church is an organization that helps us to believe in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. No, we are called to believe in the Church with the same faith we believe in God.

Often it seems harder to believe in the Church than to believe in God. But whenever we separate our belief in God from our belief in the Church, we become unbelievers. God has given us the Church as the place where God becomes God-with-us.

I'm often tempted to give up on church but I feel God continually challenge me saying, "If everyone gives up on the church then it will NEVER be what I called it to be." So I'm all in and I want others to be all in with me. People are waiting for God's church to rise up and BE JESUS to the world. By God's grace it's possible. I'm game. How about you?