When The Church Sins

Look around your surroundings and you’ll see problems occurring everywhere. There may be political unrest where you are. You may be having problems within your relationship or your business. You may be struggling financially. There are so many problems everywhere you go; who wouldn’t want to escape?

And some come to church for just that - to escape. Or at least in the past, many did. But the church has problems too. Your offerings aren’t enough; you don’t feel accepted because the people who’ve been in the church for so many years have left you feeling an outsider; it has driven you away. And for some, what I regret to hear most of all, you’ve been refused either a funeral, or baptism for your child because you’ve never come to the church.

I received an email overnight from a local parish priest not too far from where I live, essentially complaining because I recently celebrated the service of a high-profile funeral in his area and he did not. He wanted to know why I had been requested and he hadn't. And then he went on to speak of the continuing pastoral care 'he' needed to provide.

I was left scratching my head. The deaths occured over six weeks ago! And it was only now, after the media and press of the funeral, that the minister is asking about the family? Not once have they ever heard from him, not once did he ever make efforts to enquire among the funeral industry about the funeral, but now he wants to know why no one 'came to him.' And perhaps saddest of all, his email extended no hand of support, care, or even Christian ecumenism and camaraderie. Bless his socks.

Everything I’ve mentioned above, everything, has a reason or excuse, on both sides. I suppose it’s just simple to say we all have problems, now get on with it.

During Jesus’ time, there were plenty of problems too. There were interpersonal problems, community problems, and there were certainly problems within the church.

Jesus objected to the moneychangers and the traders in the temple because they refused to accept the offerings of the common people. That child of God had laboured hard and travelled far to make a simple offering to God. When he got to the temple, when he got to the ‘business’ side of the church, he was told, ‘Your offering is not quite good enough. You need a special coin. You need an unblemished offering.’

This is where the church can so often fail us. It is where the church itself commits a sin by not accepting the simple and authentic offering of the people. Sadly there are many churches that run only as businesses, or dare I say, exclusive member groups, because they’ve become lost in their own institutionalism.

The church is supposed to accept us even if we are imperfect. True religion is supposed to accept us, even if we are imperfect and blemished. In fact, true religion is supposed to accept us especially if we are imperfect and blemished, especially if we have problems.

Offerings to God are not just monetary. Offerings come in serving others, reaching out to a stranger, listening and devoting time to your children. Offerings are not only saying that you love someone, but showing them as well.

The body of Christ accepts everything we offer, the good, the bad, the blessings and the sins.



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At 18:10, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bingo! You hit the nail on the head reverend. Thats exactly why people dont have any interest in going to church any more. You have to be part of some click to be accepted and then all that happens is people talk about you and how you dont dress right or sing too loud or dont give enough. You didnt say what church it was but I dont think you needed to. They still think they can dictate and rule people businesses and anyone else. By the way ive read your blog for several months. Nice stuff!

At 02:53, Blogger sam@otrib said...

Thank you for this post. I do not live up to my stated beliefs on a regular basis. I am thankful that ours is a merciful God and I pray that I can do a better job of living a life in service to others, to help the meek and the poor.

At 22:17, Anonymous Roger Deaton said...

Dear Father Bill
I want to wish you and your children a very happy Christmas and new year. I heard you speak at the Kiwanis function last month. Without a doubt it was the most moving and sincere presentation we have had in years! I admire the work you do. Although I think you do too much and probably need a rest I understand why you are so motivated. You have changed hundreds of childrens lives and now those children are telling others how you have helped them.

We are discussing ways we can help you in the new year and will speak with you soon. For now thank you for everything you do. You have inspired us.

Roger Deaton

At 11:03, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fr Bill Im afraid I must stay anonymous as I believe to publish my name will create even more problems for my wife and I at our church. We dared to speak the truth about all the little groups and splinters we've created where rather than bringing people together to serve Christ, we've held ourselves as pious and above others. I'm just as guilty. It's just that I didn't think of it this way until I heard you preach at our church. Why is it that so many of us who have been part of the church all of our lives think we're better than others? What is it that makes us look down on people and why do we close ranks to exclude so many young people who come to church with fresh ideas? There is something wrong in our church and I'm just as guilty as others. Please pray for us.


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