Father Chuck Files: How we communicate about the church

We had just sat down to supper when the phone rang. I should have ignored it but I picked it up. “Is this you, Charles,.” And then, “How’s everything at home tonight, doing all right?”

I had been suckered into thinking someone actually knew me and cared how we were doing. I tried being polite even as my meal grew cold. I tried the polite route but it got me no where, so I just hung up.

We get a couple of these calls every week and usually I can see what’s coming. I still feel a pang of guilt when I cut them off or say that I am not interested. And I feel guilty when I tell them that, “I am too poor to pay attention.” This got me to thinking about what we are communicating to others about the church. Does the message we send out speak God’s message or is it a hope to just survive?

I know there are times that I avoid the messy parts of scripture and paint a rosy picture. I often speak of one of my pet peeves rather than address God’s message. What is our witness to the world? Like my walking and hunting buddy Coal, sometimes I
just growl and bare my ugly nature. They say dog’s take after their master and sometimes we both are ugly natured dogs. Do I need an attitude adjustment? Of course I do, and so do we as a people of faith. The question is, will we make the effort?

We have just celebrated Christmas, the birth of Jesus and the gift has been given to us. How will we use this gift of love come down? The challenges that face us are real and often distressing in these troubled times. Often, we see ourselves in the church at the fringes of society with little power to change things. I don’t want us to just survive. I want us to thrive and make an impact. I want to search and see what God is doing, how God is going about it, and tell people where it is happening.

Sometimes I wonder if we have forgotten who we are and where our source of power, hope, and grace originate.

We are God’s people, a people empowered to stand up for justice, peace and human dignity. We are a people striving to have a heart like Jesus. Do we want people to know that we are Christians? Or are we afraid to be labeled as crazy or worse a religious fanatic? What I know is this, deep in our hearts and souls we can make the world a better place.

To do this we need a joyful seriousness that says God is in our midst. Be proud of who you are as a faithful follower of God. Go about your daily life in assurance that God is with us and that we can be a driving force not only to make a difference but to share God’s love with everyone we meet along the way.

And yes, Happy New Year!

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