Can we agree that we live in troubling times? It’s hard to watch the news when we hear about
- Bombs in the mail, spreading anger, fear, and threats.
- Increasingly powerful storms causing widespread destruction and suffering.
- Thousands of refugees seeking safety, food, and a better future for their children.
- The pre-Election Day noise when candidates seem to thrive on mocking one another.
- Rude interactions when people find it difficult to be patient, take time to listen, or pass along simple courtesies.
- A growing opioid epidemic that is ruining the lives of too many people.
I don’t have an “app” for that.
But I do have a solution that gives me hope. The church. In this day and age of declining church attendance, waning interest in organized religion, and disdain for the damage done by too many church leaders, the church still has Good News of hope, forgiveness, and new life. I celebrate the difference the church can make in a sad and hurting world.
I would like to introduce you to the “church of opposites”. The world does not get the final word on what is true – God does. The church is called to proclaim that truth, which is often opposite of what the world seems to believe.
Just imagine what this “church of opposites” gets to say:
- Instead of division, we offer unity.
- Instead of indifference, we offer compassion.
- Instead of anger, we offer peace.
- Instead of isolation, we offer community and fellowship.
- Instead of exclusion, we celebrate God’s welcome.
- Where there is darkness, we will lift up God’s light.
- When everyone just seems exhausted, tired of mindlessly rushing forward – let us offer Sabbath rest. Let us breathe in the goodness of God.
- When people are tempted to fly off the handle, we can take a breath. Perhaps say a prayer, but at least take a moment to remember we are not alone.
- Instead of ignoring or drowning out voices of pain, let us listen to the forgotten and lonely.
- In times of despair, let us speak of God’s hope and God’s refusal to ever (ever!) give up on us.
This is the church of “opposites.” We are a vital voice in today’s noisy, angry world. We are called to offer God’s healing love and a welcome that values all of God’s people.
Sometimes people consider “church” to be a quaint, outdated notion that no longer matters. But I consider the church, filled with the power of God’s Holy Spirit, to be a force of powerful change and everlasting hope. Strength, courage, love, and compassion – those are “opposites” we need today.