A friend of mine was upset about what I wrote two weeks ago in the newsletter. He felt that I was building up Ridge by putting down 1st Church in Hammond. If anyone felt that way, I apologize, that was never my intent. Instead, was trying to celebrate their great history. Unfortunately, a church must change, or die — Ridge Church included — and the vision of 1960, most likely isn’t the same one in 2007. And what is exciting about First UMC in Hammond is that they are discovering a whole new vision, one that fits their current context, rather than trying to be something that no longer exists.
But, what surprised me the most, was that I have not gotten any feedback. I challenged you to share with me your understanding about the purpose of the church, and only one person responded — my friend Christine, an anthropologist, who lives out West.
Christine has been very helpful in getting me to see beyond my paradigms, which sometimes make me blind. She has really helped me to see, how others, who are not so wrapped up in the church, see Christianity.
Over the last several weeks I have thought a great deal about what I understand the purpose of the church to be. And I can say quite honestly, that my understanding has changed greatly over my 23 years in the ordained ministry. I think today, I have a much healthier vision of the function and purpose of the church.
And if I had to define it with two words they would be family (community) and justice. That is what I believe Jesus was most concerned about. Building an inclusive family and making sure that those who live within the family and those who live outside the family live in a just society.
The implications of this understanding are huge. What would it mean to look at our neighbors and see them as brothers or sisters? How do we make sure that everyone has what they need, and no one is better than anyone else?
I am still wanting this to be a dialog.