“Just because a 5th grade orchestra butchers Beethoven’s 9th symphony doesn’t mean that Beethoven isn’t a genius and that someone, somewhere might actually be able to play his score beautifully and do him justice.”
Tomorrow we gather in churches around the world for Easter. People will don their Easter suits, children will pull out their Easter bonnets with chocolate egg induced joy still pulsing through their veins, and the tradition of Easter will begin. For many people, church is something they do twice a year, on Christmas and Easter, as a way of gathering with their family or paying respect to a tradition. But though our churches will flood with people tomorrow, many people have already given up on the church. Why? Often for good reason.
The church, either locally or globally, has let them down. The church promised an easier road or a safer salvation and when life proved too difficult or treacherous or challenging, the way of the church proved false. Or perhaps the church, locally or globally, became a place of judgment or condemnation or exclusion rather than of joy and embrace and togetherness. Or the church just lots its meaning, becoming a place of tradition and rhetoric and stuffy rules, more like the King County Library than a rock concert, and when the life left the building people mentally or physically checked out. To you, those disenfranchised or disappointed with church, let me tell you, you are not alone.
There is a tremendous article floating the web now called “Why I Quit the Church”- it’s worth a read. The writer, a pastor’s kid, left the church because all he saw was condemnation and hatred instead of transformation and hope.
Call me crazy, but I still believe in the church. I still believe that we can gather as broken people made whole by Christ’s great love, which we celebrated with his sacrifice at Good Friday services. I still believe that gathering together makes us stronger, gives us a footing in a shifting-sands world, and allows us to be known by other seekers. The writer of the article quotes the old adage, “not all who wander are lost.” The church, when it is at its finest, is a collection of people who are still wandering, still journeying, still exploring what it means to be a Christ follower. The church isn’t a collection of people without problems or without challenges, but rather imbued with the saving work of Jesus Christ in their back pocket, we get another chance to love others, to serve others, and to make Jesus known.
I hope you go to church tomorrow for Easter, and that you can find a local body of worship that fits your own worship and liturgical tastes and desires. I hope this body is a people gathered in the name of Jesus to proclaim His love and forgiveness and that collectively, the body you worship with is a group marked by His joy and transformation. Not sure about the church anymore? Just because our local churches often sound like 5th grade orchestras, please know that God has written a beautiful symphony to this life. Seek Him, and find a place where you can go and get good teaching and meet other pilgrims on the journey.
And if you’re in North King or South Snohomish County tomorrow, we’d love to see you at Bethany North. We worship at 10…join us for Easter. And perhaps come back the next week so we can start getting to know each other.