Messy Spirituality — a nod to Mike Yaconelli
A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in a circle with a small group of folks who all happen to be at least 15 years younger than I am. Each of them also serves the Church in some way. We were talking about some conflict in our particular corner of the Church. We were voicing our anger and our fears and our frustrations. I said as I attempted to figure out what I was thinking while I was talking — the usual for me — that I didn’t THINK that dividing the body was what was supposed to happen. Then, again, as I worked out my thinking in real time, I said,
“But, I don’t know, maybe that IS what is supposed to happen.”
These young people, in unison, without missing one beat all replied to me — loudly,
“No! That is NOT what is supposed to happen.”
I can’t stop thinking about it. There was no hesitation on their part, no question, no resignation that the Body of Christ can never be whole. They still believe it can. In fact, if their reaction says anything at all, I think it says that they believe it must and that our job as those serving the Church is to do the hard work of making it whole, making it the One Body.
It reminds me of being their age. I had so many questions about the Church, but found myself serving the institution that caused me such confusion. I wasn’t the only one. There are a lot of folks in the Church (in our particular congregations) who wonder all the time how Christ can be at work in such a broken institution. There was a while that I had a sort of elevator pitch for the Church.
When people would come to me for counsel, when they would share their deep pain which was caused by people inside the church itself, they would often talk about how hypocritical it all was.
“How can they sit there in the pew on Sunday morning and pray and sing hymns then say such mean things to me on Monday?”
My elevator pitch was something like,
“It does seem hypocritical, but you can’t expect the Church to be any different than the rest of the world because the Church is just people. We are all broken, broken on Monday and broken on Sunday. I happen to think it is beautiful. It is a beautiful thing that all these broken folks can come and pray together. These people who wouldn’t give each other the time of day any other time, sit near one another and sing the same hymns together. That God continues to work through this mess of folks is freakin’ awesome. It is one of the most beautiful things on earth. In fact, I think it must be a miracle.”
Sometime in the last few years, I think I had forgotten that. I’m not sure my elevator pitch would be exactly the same today, not sure I like using the word ‘broken’ anymore, for example. I still think it is something special, something beautiful, though. One of the ways that the Church is most beautiful is the way we disagree with each other and remain in fellowship with one another. I’m so grateful to that circle of “young people” who reminded me that this is so.
It truly is a miracle. A confusing, messy, and beautiful miracle.