A long time ago I remember a political commentator observing that there was little between the two major political parties. Neither had much wiggle-room in “running the country” differently from the other. Much like houses need foundations, walls, floors, ceilings and rooms – so too “running the country”. Certainly carpets, wallpaper, colours and lighting – all the stuff not structural – can be as personalised as they always are. We like to live in a house we have made a home. Our home.
And therein the political divide. My “casa” is most definitely not your “casa”.
Hello Brexit and the unleashing of personal political agendas. Cliques and cleverness. False smiles to the front and stilettos in the back. And guess what? Our finest public servants can’t decide on anything at all. Politicians find it hard not to politic.
Public servants … really?
And now “cross-party talks”. A reaching out to the enemy. Along with the hue-and-cry from both parties. Both sides seeing this as detrimental to staying in power – or getting into power. Apparently “governing the country” is the remit of only One Party. The Party of Government. The “Opposition” baits “the Government”. And when one’s voted out and the other in …
Not much changes.
Over the years I have been told I need to find the right church. In the early days I thought it good advice. Over the years I became less convinced. Not keen to become a church-tourist or even develop a mystery-shopper mentality (don’t forget to check the toilets). But more than that – just like running the country – churches don’t have a lot of wiggle room. Maybe the “carpets and wallpaper” – making the “casa” of God our “casa” – a comfortable comforting “casa”. With walls and doors. Keeping
God “casa” in and you out.
It was explained to me that the buildings are functional and necessary. That whilst Jesus might not have had anywhere to lay his head, the rest of us most certainly do. It’s called having a “presence”. Somewhere for the community. A little piece of heaven here on earth. And anyway, with our weather – we can’t “gather together” in the freezing rain and wind. And what about our old folk – they can’t be standing out in the blazing sun of summer or the frigid weather of winter. All logical. All true. And anyway – they had synagogues in Jesus’ time. And Jesus attended regularly (with only minor criticisms). So what’s the big deal?
I think it makes many churches insular no matter how much they try to be otherwise. Because much like the body (not of Christ but of all of us) ain’t healthy if we live “looking in” rather than live “looking out” … Neither the Body of Christ. We worry about our wallpaper. We compare our carpets against yours. We count bums on seats. Worrying about next year’s budget and building maintenance and upkeep – the bricks and mortar – the structural heart of the church. Each building proclaiming it’s “presence” – each differentiating itself from the one next door.
And then there’s “us”. Us who want to be part of something vibrant and dynamic. Because that fits with who we are and want to be. I am … likes to be surrounded by nice things. And nice churches. Churches that affirm my faith is vibrant and dynamic. And growing. So attending a small church diminishing in numbers says I am as well. And that’s not who I am.
Don’t we all say church is “us” and not the building?
Us who think ourselves unique and diverse. Yet us who must all eat, sleep, drink, poop, pee, procreate (or try to). Our clothes and hair – language and interests – hobbies and work … the outer differentiating the sameness of the inner.
That we each want to be loved and love. That’s what we all want on our death-bed. Love.
The looking-out-not-in kind of love. Proper love. Honest love. Love that isn’t a hanger-on for the money or ride – but for who I am no matter who I am. Because inside I am a good person. We all are.
I wonder … If God hadn’t been named by us … would he choose the name “God” …
I wonder if he would prefer to be known as Love. Proper love. Honest love. Wouldn’t that make all this “different” religion and faith stuff so much simpler? Make all these different isms and ologies redundant?
Love has a simplicity we try and make God. As we wrap Him in ever more complex qualified theology.
I am curious.
I am love.