Friday, May 25, 2012
Can These BONES Live?????
The phrase keeps ringing in my head: "If there were more ministers like you, I'd actually come to church".
I've heard it a thousand times in my journey as minister. I've heard it in a myriad of contexts, but almost always from people who have found the courage to share with me the "WHY?" of their absence from Church.
Frequently, the reasons for this withdrawal has been struggles with hypocrisy, bad behaviour on the part of fellow church members, or just flat out power struggles that have left congregations and people devestated and in ruins.
Yet, over and over, I have also heard sharp rebukes to "tow the line" to "mind my p's and q's" and to "be more minister-like" ... and having been fired twice, and gone through a disciplinary process, I am left scratching my head in bewilderment at the inability of the United Church (and likely ALL mainstream Churches) to think and minister and LIVE outside the box.
Yesterday I read the posting over at Maritime Preacher entitled "Let Us Die" and I wanted to weep.
Too often the prevailing attitude in the Church - the United Church - is to maintain the status quo and to never take chances or risks. It's easier to quietly slip away, then to risk offending the old guard by reaching out beyond ourselves and trying something NEW.
That's where clergy like ME have a hard time.
I don't want the Church to die.
The Church is too filled with potential and possibility to simply let it slip away. I want to share the Hope and Joy that I have found in the Church. I want people to know what the transformative power of the Resurrection can really do. I want to throw off the shackles of tradition and dogma and instead let the winds of The Holy Spirit blow through and around us ... I want to stand in a place where we answer Ezekiel's question: "Can these bones live?" with a resounding "YES!!!!" Followed closely by a thunderous "HALLELUJAH!!!!"
Can these bones live?
From where I sit - YES they can!!
The only thing preventing them is a dogged determination to maintain the status quo and keep things the way they are on into AMEN!!!
What we need are MORE clergy like Nick, and Blake (aka The Laughing Pastor) who are willing to speak up and speak out and boldly proclaim the transformative possibilities offered by the Holy Spirit.
I think, that if the Church, rather than trying to get folks like me to tow the line, instead asked itself if the so-called "line" was faithful to begin with, we may see more Spirit-filled growth in our congregations ... but then, at the end of the day that's EXACTLY what the powers that be are afraid of. The kind of growth that comes when the Spirit is allowed to move freely, is growth that threatens the status quo and the power of those happily entrenched in positions of privilege and THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE AFRAID OF.
You can't control the Spirit.
You can't control the Prophetic.
You can't stop GROWTH.
But you can make it inhospitable for those who dream of more ... fortunately, the Holy Spirit will never be thwarted, and in the face of hostility and reluctance and outright opposition, SHE WILL FIND A WAY!!!
In my thinking the phrase - "if there were more ministers like you," is a call to think outside the box not draw a target on those like me who dare to colour outside the lines!!!
Come Holy Spirit, COME !!!!