Are we pointing toward God?

January 5, 2010

I’ve been ruminating a bit more about the idea of a church on a slippery pole.  Trying to differentiate between churches who are on solid ground and those stuck out of reach.  Why and how do they get where they are, in either case.

Recently I attended a Christmas Eve Mass…a service at a Roman Catholic Church.  I stopped attending Catholic Mass 37 years ago because the church I was at did not even attempt to communicate with me.  (I am being a bit unfair, but that is how I saw it at the time.)  But this year’s Christmas Eve service was one of the most worshipful events I have been to in a year.  Not only the service, with it’s choir and ancient language, but the very architecture of the building was pointing heavenward and saying “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!”

But does that draw or repel someone far away from God?  I would say it draws, if  the rest of what this church says and does speaks the same language.  I was only there for one service so I really don’t know.  I just know that the building is pointing in the right direction.

I have also worshiped in a gymnasium that said nothing at all about the nature of God…but the people did.  That gym was eventually turned into a space that, it is hoped, would tell it’s worshipers that God is loving and approachable.

So it’s not the ancient hymns, in and of themselves that pull or push.  It’s not an organ or a Stratocaster that draws or deters.  It is the heart and spirit of the congregation.  It is the desires and the dreams of the people, from pastor to parishioner.

If we speak, believe, and live out God’s command to exalt Him, love others and share the good news, we will be attractive, even if we meet in a hollowed out tree.  And conversely if we are more concerned about appearance than attitude, (to obey is better than sacrifice) if we are more worried about alcohol consumption than we are about famine, (love mercy, do justly, walk humbly) if we are more concerned about coffee stains than soul stains, than even in the most magnificent edifice, our words will sound hollow. 

People will drive miles to attend one, and miles to avoid the other.

 

Neither birds nor squirrels will eat at your feeder if you have the wrong kind of food. 

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