September 19, 2009

The Incense Of A New Church

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.

6 comments:

Ur-spo said...

dear me
I have never seen a church quite like this one.

the hobbit said...

It is amazing to me that the church consistently rejoices in the idea of resurrection, yet consistently chooses to live in the tomb on Saturday.

New ideas are--if it must come in the form of theological discourse--Christ's resurrection afresh, breathing the Breath of the life-giving Holy Spirit into the Church. This breath can be sustaining or resuscitating. It is the option of the Church Universal how dead it wants to get, growing further and further away from the True Vine before receiving before, gasping, it calls for help de profundis

Anonymous said...

Is this a joke?

That painting you used is a bunch of factories. It's a satire on the church and the industrial capitalism that has replaced religion and God.

The artist of the work is was also an openly gay atheist. My my my.

Birdie said...

What irony! I discovered the image online and found its title compelling. I guess the joke is on me, but I don't mind that its original meaning is not what I found. Once the art is out there, it's up to the audience to find meaning. The comparison stands, Anonymous, in contrast to the artist's intent.

Michaelyn said...

your picture is backwards.

Birdie said...

Hmm. Tell Wikipedia.