Incense of a New Church by Charles Demuth 1921
A censer swings through the aisles of a new church, the smoke curling through the sun’s rays streaming from stained glass windows; and its scent is pleasing to God.
This new church is an institution that people seek because it gives them community peopled by those who welcome the weary, the edgy, the common, the fearful, the different, the strong, the powerful, the broken. All are welcome here.
This church is an institution that people do not hate or fear. It is the natural outcome of community, growing into a stable yet malleable structure that gives a framework for interaction in the journey and celebration of faith. Its doctrine is a magnet, not a weapon, drawing its members through the power of God’s unconditional love. It can be trusted with power because it does not demand it.
This new church celebrates diversity as a sign of success. It embraces questions as the means to spiritual growth. It is open to the change that is inevitable over time as new members bring new understanding to its tradition, its culture, its doctrine.
The new church is here. It can be found in individual communities of faith that are independent churches or that have set themselves apart within the mainline denominations.
If you seek a welcoming community of faith, don’t give up until you find one. Find one whose leaders make you like who you are when you are with them. Find one you wish to share with others from the sense of joy you gain as a participant. Find one that exemplifies servant leadership.
If you are in a church that needs to grow, become a part of its growth by asking questions that others may be afraid to bring up. Become inconvenient. Be persistent yet patient. When you speak up, you will find many who agree. One voice will become many.
Change is inevitable. The church has a rhythm of dying and new life. It will live anew if the death is its traditions. If it is not, the death will be the institution itself. Those are the only choices. From the funeral pyre, the new church will rise.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.