Friday, June 20, 2008

What church would Jesus attend?

Well, first you have to ask whether he’d call himself a Christian or not. We know that he wasn’t big on organized religion and couldn’t help but run into trouble with the control freaks (Pharisees like me) that run most churches.

But, aside from that small problem, if there were a building that housed activities that interested Jesus, what would they be?

Since no day is Sabbath any more, every day would be treated as sacred. Worship would happen every day. There would be times of silent worship. There would be times of chanting and smoke and bells. There would be times when everyone would be handed a drum and a great cacophony of rhythm would rise and fall and lift people into a chorus of communal beat. There would be musicians of all kinds sharing their songs of praise; the blues to meet us where we live, and joyous songs to lift us up into heaven’s day.

There would be stories of great hope in God. Stories about what God has done in ancient times - and is doing today. Doctrinal preaching would not be necessary because people would learn about God’s nature and desires from each other’s walk with God. Elders would tell the best stories. Children would learn to tell stories that make you listen for the truth in them.

There would be healing. All kinds of healing. God would be invited to work with and through the healers in the tradition and spirit of Jesus the Christ. The power of love and trust would cast out fear and ignorance. Hands would help and heal. Art would help and heal. Food would help and heal.

There would be only good whole foods. No food bank charity. Buying cooperatives and community gardens would feed our sense of pride. Vegetarian meals served daily. Feast days when we’d gorge on meat; turkey, deer, grass-fed cattle, pickerel and partridge and a pig in the middle of winter fattened from table scraps.

Who would come? The poor, the crazy and the creative.

The poor who are hungry for God. Hungry for good news of a day when the justice that the rich take for granted comes also to their doors. Inside the doors of this place they would find respect and dignity and equity.
The crazy who feel that they don’t fit in would come. They would find a place where no size fits all and so they would finally belong.

The creative would come. People who want - who need - to meet the world’s pain with beauty and truth. Young people would be apprenticed to the crafts of music, and image, and words and body. Soulcraft would be a river running through the barrens of hope.

Where would the money come from?
There would be patrons and partners and profits to share. People whose art is making money would want to contribute. People whose art is service would offer their time and hard work. Expenses would always outrun the pace of gifts and we would always depend on God to sustain us or send us on our way.

We’d run the building like a business. The artist studios in the Christian Education wing would pay the heat and upkeep bills. There’d be concerts every month. There’d be theatre and performances that would draw new patrons into the daily drama of the church. We wouldn’t waste time telling our story to the media. Word would spread and rumours would run and the curious would come. But there’d be no parking. Only bike racks and footbaths.

And Jesus would show up. He’d be the woman demanding the crumbs that fell from our table and wouldn’t’ go away until she’d turned our hearts inside out. He’d be the annoying, smelly, begging, babbling conscience who’d call us to stop and pay attention just when we were well on our way. He’d be the angry man disturbing our piety and breaking things. He’d turn the tables on us just when we thought we understood peace.

We’d kick him out. For who can stand to look into the face of God and live? But he’d come back. The Christ would be just too curious about what was going on today to stay away. She’d hear our morning prayers and turn towards us. She’d hear the noonday drums and would run to meet such friends and play along.

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