Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Tragic Opera of a Church

As the events of the past year have shown us, the universal church is still one of the most visible forms of the Body of Christ. But often, it is not a pretty thing to look at. Not the perfect ad agency male model, nor the youthful sublime frame of a lovely female fashion star. Lots of wrinkles, bumps, bruises. Even nasty surgical scars. But other times, there are moments, even seasons of life where the church can become something stunning, almost blinding it is beauty.

Recently, I have been sharing some of my reflections on the tragic opera that has unfolded over the past several years in the church we have attended for the past 20 years. Over the next days, I will unpack my thoughts a bit more.

Way Too Many Operas

I think I have recently discovered an interesting (ok, humor me) metaphor for what I have been experiencing over the past year.

Over the past month or so, I have been reconnected with my half-brother, who, after serving in the military for many years, has semi-retired and moved over seas. Our reconnection was brought about by the moving of my parents into an assisted living facility - and we have started a lively exchange of emails. I really like him, he is an honest, gregarious, and forthright fellow. And he has quite a bit of history with organized religion, namely the church. Over the past 30 years or so he has witnessed firsthand some sad and even bizarre dysfunction within otherwise well-meaning Christian folk. This lead him to a place of complete distaste for the Christian faith. He has described the years he spent going to church as "hating opera, but going twice every week". He finally decided, years ago, that he was done with the opera.

He is not particularly bitter, but he has decided that he will very likely not ever become "born again". I wonder, do Christian folk sometimes become participants in an opera that is meaningless to those looking in from the outside. This idea makes me sad, but I continue to correspond with my half-brother, the relationship is rewarding and challenging. Perhaps I can shed a beam of light....

Through all this, I still see evidence that the church can sometimes be something wonderful, lovely, and pleasing to God. Sometimes.

Oh, how I long for it to be so - at the church we attend. Lord, hear my longing.

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