Church as an institution has lost lots of its luster in our modern day and for good reason. We have been rocked by scandal, whether it is sexual predators that our institutions have attempted to cover up or ignore, messages that end up sounding hypocritical and judgmental, or missions that focus on divisiveness over compassion. The church has seemed severely out of touch, at best, or complicit, at worst, in some of the turmoil, chaos, and brokenness in our world.
Granted, the church is made up of normal people who can make poor choices, respond out of fear, or seek to protect what they preserve as sacred. In that sense, we are no different than many corporate and political leaders who also fall into the same traps. Many of our failures are played out on a public stage, sometimes by our own request.
I understand that the church is in a period of deep transformation. A lot of folks have felt excluded and hurt over the years. Some churches are beginning to address those abuses of power and theology. Some are beginning to reach out and find a way forward filled with forgiveness, healing, and hope. The question for folks of my generation and below remains – will church still have a place in our future?
I think so.
We did the version of “Stand By Me” at the Table this past Sunday. It’s a fun song, but it also speaks to one of the great blessings of church that still remains and continues to have deep potential to connect with people -
Being with people in their need, in their struggle, and in their fear.
I can personally speak to the many times when my church has stood with me, surrounded me in love, or encouraged me in times of struggle. My friends were a great help too, but when a church “stands by you”, it’s a bit different. They don’t love me because they are my friend. They love me because I am a child of God. I experienced this again recently with the passing of my grandmother, and my church family poured out care for me. I felt loved. I felt connected. I felt reassured. I felt God’s presence around.
Our world needs more of that divine presence, standing with others in the midst of pain, isolation, and fear. Standing with folks who face injustice. Standing with people who have seemingly lost everything. Standing with those are heartbroken. Standing with those without family or friend.
That’s a vision of church that will thrive for years to come. That’s part of my vision of our community called the Table here in East Dallas.
Won’t you stand by me?