When The Church Sins
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.
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.