Church

A hush fell over the congregation.

The pastor had asked, “Are there any other announcements?”

A slender older woman at the back said, “I have one, but I’m coming up there.”

We all waited while she slid out of her pew, went around the back, and walked up the center aisle. Nobody said a word as she climbed the few steps up the lectern. She stood, looking at the congregation, her lips pressed in a tight line. Finally she spoke.

“The rumors, the hate mail — it all has to stop. We need to support our pastor.”

My mind went back some 15 or 16 years before — to a different church, a different problem. The pastor had begun a belittling diatribe from the pulpit against individuals in the congregation. One man — a big teddy bear of a man, a former dairy farmer — stood up.

“This has to stop,” he said, addressing the pastor.

A shouting match ensued. I don’t remember the particulars because I had quickly gotten my children out of the sanctuary. We waited in the safety of the nursery until church was over.

Sanctuary. It’s a funny word for what was happening in there that day.

Sometimes church becomes ugly and unsafe.

“And they’ll know we are Christians by our love,
by our love.
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

We sing, but we don’t do.

Until one person stands up and reminds us that we can choose a better way.

Last week we celebrated the resurrection. This week our pastor read from John 21, when the (unrecognized) risen Christ found the disciples fishing again.

How easily we slip back into old ways!

But He has given us a new way to live — it’s by doing the hard work of love.

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