Making Church Matter Scripture

What is Going On? Part III

August 24, 2012

This is the third and final segment in my a reflection this past week asking the question, “What is going on?” as in, “What is going on in churchworld?” Things no longer seem to be going well in many, many different slices of church life across the country, and why that is so, or how that is so is not clearly understood…at least I don’t understand it and I haven’t meet anyone who does.  This bad news is not news, the news is the critical mass of bad news that seems to be coming out.

And beyond the bad news, the closings, mergers, and consolidations, the bankruptcies, lawsuits and scandals; the infighting and protests, beyond all that, is the sheer irrelevance of it all.  Notwithstanding all the drama, churchworld and organized religion has largely drifted into irrelevance in the lives of people in our culture.  I was at a family party last Sunday morning, it was a brunch (following my cousin’s wedding the day before). One older lady came over to me and said, “I don’t think anyone here has gone to church.” I replied, “I don’t think anyone here even thought about going to church.” (Just for the record I did, later that day.)

It seems as a community of faith, a religious organization or however you want to collectively describe Catholic church life in America, we have crossed some line in the sand, stepped over a significant threshold and now find ourselves in a different place. Sometimes, it seems everywhere churchworld is different than it was. We are in a strange new place. What is our mission and direction?  Where are we? What is going on?

One of the shortest books in the Bible was written by a prophet by the name of Habakkuk.  He lived during a very interesting time in the history of the kingdom of Judah.  Things were not going well generally among the people of God.  It seemed that God’s whole plan for his people, his “Church,” if you will, had come to a dead end.  The situation seemed beyond reason or understanding. And what, amid the problems, was God doing, Habakkuk wonders at the beginning of his book.  God answers

“Look…watch…be utterly amazed.

For I am going to do something in your days that you will not believe,

even if you were told.”

Habakkuk 1.5

So, here is what Habakkuk does. He stands watch. He waits.  But he does it strategically, he says

“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts…”

Habakkuk 2.1

He places himself at the highest vantage point, the ramparts of the city, and prepares to see the impossible thing God is going to do. He expects it. And here is God’s promise in light of his faithfulness:

“The revelation awaits an appointed time;

it speaks to the end and will not prove false.

Though it linger, wait for it;

it will certainly come and will not delay.”

Habakkuk 2.3

I think we are living in an amazing time in the whole long history of God’s people.  I think that the whole movement of the kingdom of God is going to be taking off in a whole new way.  And if we’re waiting and watching and expecting it, we’ll see it.  And here’s the thing…don’t expect to see what you desire…desire what you see.  Allow God to show you where this is going and embrace it.

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  1. “don’t expect to see what you desire…desire what you see.  Allow God to show you where this is going and embrace it.” I think this is an important message and we should pray on it.
    Observing and reflecting on the reality is important. We need to understand the challenges that families and individuals face today and how we as the church community can respond. There is a significant gap between what people need and what they currently receive from most parish communities. Our faith has much to offer, we are blessed with many good and talented members of our faith communities who want to help. We have an opportunity to close the gap by looking at the problem from the perspective of the community and engaging them to help make a difference.

    Thank you for launching this discussion!

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