Friday, December 01, 2017

Honest to God

Honest To God

When was the last time an Episcopalian actually "invited" you to church? As Advent approaches this year, that's exactly what I'd like to do. Last Sunday was my first down day in a while. I just plain slept in, read the paper, drank coffee and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. After 46 years of priesthood I thought I deserved a break. Being an Honest to God Pagan from time to time has much to commend itself. 

But then Cindy and I started thinking about Advent. What shall we do? Obviously it makes sense for us to visit churches we've served since retirement. It has been quite a journey. And we're both curious. 

But that begs the question. Why would I invite you to church?
You could be a perfect stranger to me.
You may be reluctant given what passes for "christian" out there. 
I agree with you there. I feel no connection whatsoever with the evangelical conservative movement which feels contrary to much of what I value in the Gospel.

For me, Jesus searched out and loved the outcast. 
In those days it may have been the leper. In our day it feels like the LGBTQ community. 
Jesus searched out the poor, the meek. the brokenhearted and the persecuted.
These were among those Jesus described as blessed. ~Matthew 5

The Episcopal Church and other "mainstream" churches have struggled to be inclusive communities that search for justice for the poor. 

Jesus is compassion, reconciliation and above all, Jesus is the Love of God made flesh and blood.

This is Who I seek.

When I want to focus on the Love of God made flesh and blood I look to Jesus. There are four magnificent snapshots we have of him in The Sacred Writings: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. The reading of them takes center stage in our Liturgy. The Gospel Book is brought into the midst of our congregations as Jesus came into our midst in the town squares to long ago.

I invite you to come and meet this Jesus along with the rest of us.

May I suggest that if you wish to take me up on this invitation you do so "Honest to God". This is the only place to begin, in the center of your Heart of Hearts where God lives. 

I invite you to go to the very center of your Heart of Hearts this Advent and come to rediscover who God is for you. This is how I seek to approach the Sacred. And to tell you the truth after 46 years of life in the church, that is pretty much where we all begin; "Honest to God". 

This is not to say you will not find pettiness and hypocrisy in the church. God knows I've fought many a petty battle with what I considered "small minded" folk for many years. Truth be told I can also get a bit petty and small minded too. 

To tell you the truth, there is plenty of pettiness and hypocrisy to go around. But there is also a far higher truth to live into also. To find a place where we can come to terms with the lesser within us as well as with the noblest within us is exactly what the church is designed to be: Honest to God!

Yes. I invite you to church. Pick one. They're all pretty much the same. Wonderful people who will be a blessing to you and a bane as well, I assure you. This is true of us all. The church is a wonderful place to come to terms with the truth about us all "Honest to God".

In the silence before sleep, this is Who I discover "Honest to God". As I converse with the hallowed emptiness of a sleepless night, there You are, the same now as ever. What seems empty to me, Honest to God, is full of your Love for me. Eventually, this is how I fall asleep; In Your love.

This is what keeps me coming back to church, to learn and learn and learn again that You are there in our midst; "Honest to God".

And so I invite you to church, not so much to "go to church" as to "be the church".
Having folks who can be "Honest to God" with one another is such an inviting prospect!

In the Name of God; the Most Holy, Undivided and Everlasting Trinity.

Fr Paul

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