Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Black Socks Church - CROSS PURPOSES 117


In August of 1988 Rose and I were in Holland. This was my first trip back to the country of my birth since I left with my parents as a 1 year old in 1951. It was almost a year since dad had died and I was on a sort of pilgrimage, “spending my inheritance to find my heritage” so to speak.

Come Sunday morning and we wished to attend worship. My Catholic rellies gave us directions to a local church. We found it easily enough. A substantial white building as I recall. Streets awash with cars, the church car-park full. And not a soul in sight. Walked up to the church doors – and found them locked. Thought it must have another entrance. Any doors we found as we circled the building were also locked. Checked our watches – 5 minutes past the hour. And it dawned on us that by conscious decision no one was ever getting into that building after the appointed hour for worship to begin.

Later we discovered that this particular church was nicknamed the “black socks church” because everything was conducted somberly and rigidly. Now, I understand that the word ‘church’ in Greek is ‘ecclesia’ which means called out. ie God’s people are called out of their involvements with sin, death, the world and the devil and called into the community which reveals our God’s holy love and love of holiness in Jesus Christ.

However we are not called to live in ghettos – cut off from all contact with the world. We are those on the receiving end of a clear instruction – “Go into all the world – proclaiming repentance, forgiveness – Good News”. John does tell us that God loved and loves the world…John 3:16.

Are our communities open to those who need the gospel?

Am I, in my heart, open to those who need the gospel?

Could it be that we are at risk of creating our own Christian enclaves in which we no longer ever have to risk contamination? Nowadays you can have Christian playgroups, kindergartens, schools, high schools, gyms, bookshops – complete with café, and of course nursing homes. In between we can limit ourselves only to Christian Real Estate agents, plumbers, builders, architects, accountants, holiday homes etc etc. I forgot to mention hospitals and radio stations! There’s our challenge, isn’t it? Knowing how to build links in daily life which become opportunities and openings for proclaiming the gospel.

It’s not only a wicked world out there which needs to be challenged so forgiveness can be proclaimed. It’s also full of broken people, wounded, confused, searching – sheep without a shepherd – vulnerable and exposed.

And it’s a world in which many of God’s loved humanity have been involved – are involved - in liasons, actions and behaviour which they personally hate – and which have left them feeling forever defiled and unclean.

Maybe it’s time to get off our butts and onto our knees and repent of our exclusiveness and self centeredness. Let’s pray for the Holy Spirit, in full and fullness, who alone conveys and energises Jesus’ plan to save souls.

Nuff said



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