Friday, August 17, 2012

The Church Community: Sometimes It's Messy

One of the appointed Psalms for today is Psalm 102.   A portion of it reads:

Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
   so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord:
that he looked down from his holy height,
   from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners,
   to set free those who were doomed to die;
so that the name of the Lord may be declared in Zion,
   and his praise in Jerusalem,
when peoples gather together,
   and kingdoms, to worship the Lord. (Ps. 102: 18-23)

Someone recently sent me an article by a Presbyterian minister, Mark Sandlin, who is on a leave from life in the church.  He writes: “I’ve been away from church for two months now and I have to say, I am more at peace than I ever have been. My faith is stronger than it ever has been. My family life is healthier than it ever has been. My desire to seek out God and follow the teachings of Jesus is stronger than it ever has been.  I do not want to go back to Church because life outside of Church is better. It just is. There’s no dogma complicating the path to God. It is more than refreshing to escape the games church-folk play with the intent of establishing control and ‘rightness’ on their part; it is life-giving to escape it.”

I think that from time to time everyone feels the same way. Certainly one gets discouraged by the political maneuverings in the Church, but the “go it alone/it’s between me and God alone” attitude is commensurate with the narcissistic relativistic attitude that is so prevalent in our nation today. 

Jesus lived out his public ministry, and his death and resurrection, with a community that had its own problems—

         “We want to sit and your right and left when you come to power (James and John);”

         “These others may betray you, but I never will (Peter);” Only to utter a little later on, “I do not know the man!”
         “If only you would have come sooner, my brother, Lazarus, would not have died (Martha)”.

          And then there was the ultimate, “And you Judas, betray me with a kiss.”

         Talk about a community with people trying to assert their own agenda!

The Psalmist reminds us that we are all called to gather together and to worship the Lord.  The fact that we are created in the image and likeness of God and that God is Trinity tells us that community is essential to our lives.  Sure, sometimes people will rub each other the wrong way.  To be sure, we get worn down with the various agendas individuals are trying to push in the Church.  We are a broken people in desperate need of grace.  However, rejecting the Church community is a rejection of Christ, whose body the Church is.

A break, yes, totally rejecting the Church community, no.  I am happy to say that eventually, the minister went back.  He wrote:  “I’m going back, even though I honestly don’t want to, because my time away has given me a little perspective on the disease behind the problem and I can promise you it will not change because of outside voices. The change must come from within, and I, for one, still believe the Church is redeemable. I just hope it’s not too late.”

The Good News is that you and I have been redeemed by Christ; therefore, the Church has already been redeemed by Christ.  We just have to live into that redemption; we have to die to self and let Christ increase in us. We have to accept the gift freely given.

Let us pray:  Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.


Bishop’s Committee Meeting this Sunday after the Eucharist.

The Feast Day of St. Augustine will be celebrated on Sunday, 26 August starting with Eucharist Rite II at 9 a.m. We will have the Blessing of the Backpacks as well, and a luncheon after the service.

New Adult Christian Education Series starting September: Lord, Teach Us To Pray: Six Studies on the Lord’s Prayer from the Kerygma Series.  This study will be led by Jillian Bain on Sundays and by Tammie Taylor on Mondays.  Please join in this wonderful study of God’s Word.

The Roots of Christian Mysticism, a 3-Year Course of Study, Year 1, September 8, 2012 -May 4, 2013, Houston, Texas.  This 3-year course offers a unique opportunity to explore, in depth, the history of Christian Mysticism. It is structured and taught by leading scholars and practitioners and focuses on the key figures of the mystical tradition. Classes will be held 1 Saturday a month for 9 consecutive months at the Dominican Sisters Spirituality Center, 6501 Almeda (at Holcombe), Houston, Texas. Annual tuition is $225.

Art in and Around St. Augustine’s:

         The 4th Annual Art Show—this year’s theme is “Peace”. 

         Art Walk at St. Vincent’s House on 25 August, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Please remember everyone on our prayer list, especially, the family of Corlie Jackson whose mother died recently, for the health of Lee Runion’s mother, Steve, Gladys, for all of those who are traveling, and for all those who are about to start a new school year.

Your servant in Christ,

Fr. Chester J. Makowski+
St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church
Galveston, Texas 77550

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