Head First: July 2005

Thursday, July 28, 2005


This past Sunday, while exchanging small talk with the head of ushers (who is also on the board), I observed a parishioner approach the usher and offer to man the "greeter's post" at a nearby vacant entrance. Apparently, whoever was supposed to be there had not shown up.

Well, the usher hemmed and hawwed, and finally said ok, but noted that the volunteer parishoner wasn't wearing a jacket and tie. Clearly, the volunteer was insulted, but nonetheless went to the spot where he shook hands and distributed the weekly bulletin as people entered.

I did my best to hide my agitation. Trying to get the man thinking, I recalled a church I visited a few months ago where I was greeted by a guy in shorts and an Eagles jersey. The old usher chuckled, then recounted the story of a young guy who showed up at our church not long ago wearing a baseball cap. The kid was in his mid to late teens, and no one had seen him in church before. When he entered, the old usher told him, "That's not something we do, here." The kid walked in and sat down, cap intact. Well, the usher signaled another usher, who went over and told him he was going to have to lose the headgear. For whatever reason, the kid didn't want to take off his cap. Finally, they hounded the kid so much that he got up and walked out of the service. No one has seen him since.

The usher smiled smugly, as if to say, "We won. Nobody defies us and gets away with it." (For his sake, I hope that kid wasn't one of those angels that we "entertain unawares")

I turned and walked away, the contents of my thoughts summed up by the title of this post.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

You can't handle the Truth!

This is by no means an exhaustive commentary on the condition of the organizational church, but I think it's a pretty good insight. I wish it was my own.

Scripture refers to speaking the truth IN love. In church culture, truth and love are too often exclusive of one another. It's odd, thinking of these two virtuous terms as being unrelated, but each can be taken to an unGodly extreme, with predictably unGodly results.

I'd bet most of us could think of a situation where doing the right thing was overlooked because to do so would cause a problem for someone we don't want to hurt (love supercedes truth). Here's a fairly extreme example: A parishoner backed his truck into the new church van. So as to "protect" the parishoner from an increase in his insurance, the pastor filed a claim against the church insurance policy, calling it a hit-and-run. While most would consider it insurance fraud, this was thought of as "Grace" (this really happened).

And I'm certain we know people who don't give a second thought to the venom they spew in the name of being "right" (truth supercedes love). Example: most fundamentalist preachers, far too many pro-life activists.

I don't think there's any denying that love-over-truth has played a part in creating the consumerist pandering of the cultural church. Truth-over-love, on the other hand has developed into legalism and political activism (right and left). I guess that's what happens when the Holy Spirit is no longer invited to the party, eh?

Balance must be possible, else scripture wouldn't have suggested it. How can love and truth be lived out so that neither is diminished?

Monday, July 25, 2005

This is my blood (and it's sugar-free)...

I was reading a discussion on another blog about Christians going into taverns and sharing Christ over a pitcher of beer (good beer, of course, not Budweiser). Well the discussion disintegrated into an argument over whether it's more appropriate to use real wine (with ALCOHOL!!!) or grape juice for communion. This got me thinking...

Isn't the idea of the Lord's Supper to remember Christ and the cross?

What does it matter if we use Diet Pepsi and Oreos, so long as our focus is on Christ?

One step further, since they were sitting down for a meal, and Jesus said, "As often as you do this, remember me." (my paraphrase), could an argument be made that Jesus wasn't calling for a regular "church" ritual at all, but asking to be remembered--to be made the central thought--each time we sit down to eat?

That sounds like a pretty New Testament line of thinking to me.