Scarring the Body of Christ
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“In deep disappointment, I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church; I love her sacred walls. How could I do otherwise?”
Tears come and go. They wash and clean eyes, leave tracks of mascara down my face, my cheeks. They roll over my nose. I have cried for love many times in my life. The love of my church is probably one of the deepest sorrows I have ever held and cried for.
What does it mean when the scars of the church are from scrapes and bruises that I not only cause but also continue to inflict? I was walking through the halls of the office building I work in and I saw the pictures of a bunch of provincials from an order of religious men. I wondered then if the order would ever see men of color in charge. In a church that was founded on gospel values- “neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female, neither slave nor free” all people recognized as beloved children of God, how is it that our church allowed racism to persist? How is it that our church allows for sexism to still exist? Homophobia? How with these HUGE issues can our church expect to be taken seriously by people?
This lent has not been a stellar lent in many ways. My fasting has been pretty minimal. I have lagged in my relationships with others, focused attention in places that I should not have. I have felt lazy and uninspired. My prayer life is for the most part non-existent. Today’s first reading was from the book of Daniel and was the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego. The three men of faith who would not allow their faith to be swayed by false idols, but stayed the course, faced the fire (literally) and saw the reward and favor of God in their midst- and also converted King Nebuchadnezzar through their very actions.
I love my church- there is so much beauty in the imperfections of the actions of the church- in the thinking- the challenges issued. There are times when I think of leaving, sure, but then I remember the challenge of being in relationship. I am called to maintain this relationship until it ceases to be life giving. I think the biggest hindrance to my life in the church right now is my attitude. I think I will just get out of my own way and just be- just remember to experience and participate rather than anticipate.