“This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity.” – Pope Francis
This quote from Pope Francis has been making its way around the global block. In fact, many of Pope Francis’s statements have caused quite a stir in the electronic world of Twitter, Facebook, and the blog. I’ll be honest, I’m intrigued by the new pope. He seems to be willing to challenge the church in some unexpected and surprising ways.
The word that struck me in this particular quote was “mediocre”. Is that what we think the call of the universal church is today? Or maybe more importantly, is this the reflection that the world sees of the church today? I don’t know about all of the time, but one can’t help think that from time to time our answer is a half-hearted, “Yep, we’re mediocre. Yea for us…sigh” I believe the world sees this kind of reflection from the universal church more often than we will admit.
Being a follower of Jesus is a daily call to be more than small groups that are mediocre, isn’t it?
Maybe the church just needs more cheerleaders like Lake Wobegon has in the great Garrison Keillor. Keillor concludes every reflection about this quaint fictional Minnesota town by saying, “Well, that’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”
The church isn’t called to be a small collections of mediocre groups whose mission is to protect our turf from the rest of the world behind closed door meetings. As followers of the risen savior Jesus Christ, I hope that we are called to be more than that, don’t you? Thanks Pope Francis for challenging me to think and pray about that a little lately.
It’s been a remarkable week, but I’m glad to be on my way home (Due to plane and weather issues, I didn’t make it all the way home). What I’d like to offer tonight is a little synopsis of the past week that was in my life and ministry. May something here bless your journey, because you know what…Jesus loves you!
Here’s a summary of this week
1. 2 days with Suzanne Stabile from Life in the Trinity Ministries learning a whole lot about the Enneagram. Suzanne is one of the leading teachers on the Enneagram. After spending the week with her, I think she is THE leading teacher in the US on this subject. I am blessed to have had this time with her, to learn from her, and am forever thankful to call her a sister in Christ.
2.A day and a half with Tony Jones. Tony is someone who deeply loves the church, but isn’t afraid to throw a hand grenade in the middle to stir up the status quo. His passion is to challenge the church to think differently about herself then she did in 1954 and to celebrate the many ways that God is alive and active in the midst of 2013. Needless to say, I was challenged by him. And I’m thankful that I was. The Texas heat has nothing on the heat Tony Jones brings to the church!
3. A day and a half with Brian McLaren. Brian has had a significant impact on my faith journey for many years. To be able to “sit at his feet” and walk through the book of Acts together was a significantly holy time for me. Brian is a glorious gift to the church who believes very deeply that the good news of the gospel of our savior Jesus Christ is for all of God’s children. His grace filled challenge to us pastors was to not be afraid to proclaim and live the out the truth of God’s love in every way possible in our congregations.
A few take always from the week -
1. Silence is a good and holy thing and one of the most significant disciplines that children of God can seek to enter into regularly.
2. Every so often, in the midst of our silence, it’s OK to stir things up In order to affirm that we are truly focused on God’s presence in our lives and God’s work in the world.
3. And finally, all of us are called as followers of Jesus to constantly ask the question, “Who is outside?” I think this may be the most challenging question we face and one that the church needs to continually ask just as it has been asking since the first followers of the risen Jesus did so long ago. By asking this question, we too will quickly discover that nobody is outside of the loving embrace of God.