Tuesday, October 19, 2010

End the Waiting

  Last week, I traveled to Carbondale to meet with fellow Disciples ministers and our new Regional Minister, Rev. Dr. Teresa Dulyea-Parker. We had a delightful time of both sharing, eating, and discussing. On the drive home, our discussion reminded me of my visit to a church one Sunday. I visited the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church, to specifically hear a sermon from the preacher. I desperately wanted to hear the Rev. Al Green preach. Yes, the Al Green. The soul legend Al Green, the man who was responsible for hits such as: “Let’s Stay Together” “Love and Happiness” “Tired of Being Alone” “I’m Still in Love with You”. I had listened to his music my entire life, he had started a church, and I just had to hear him preach. We arrived at the church excited with great anticipation. We took our seats, hoping to not get noticed, but were warmly greeted with great caring and hospitality. I noticed in the bulletin it actually read: And please, please---- don't take a gazillion photos while service is going on- be respectful, it's a church and not really a tourist attraction! ... This was not something I had ever put in our church bulletins on Sunday morning, but then again I’m not a soul legend.

The church service started on time with a nice greeting and welcome, then a very nice long prayer, then some very upbeat awe inspiring music. The service provided nothing out of the ordinary for us as we waited to hear Rev Green. Rev Green was seated up front, surrounded by his group of Elders. The music continued, the Elders would pray, and more music. During the singing, an offering or two was taken up, we continued to wait for the sermon. Not just any sermon, an Rev Al Green sermon. We continued with the same routine as I began to get a little impatient. I glanced at my watch, we had been singing, praying, and taking up offering for over three, yes three hours, and we had even gotten to the sermon. I was losing both patience and money. My anticipation began to drain. My waiting began to be transformed into frustration. I wanted to hear AL Green preach. He is right there; I could see him, why isn’t he preaching. The service was great but not what I had come for. After over four hours of waiting, to hear a sermon, hungry, frustrated, and feeling unsatisfied we left. I left never to hear Rev Al Green preach. [Note: I was informed later by a member of the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church that Rev Green only preaches when he receives the Holy Spirit, some Sundays he doesn’t feel it at all so there is no sermon. He also rightly corrected me that I was too focused on the sermon and missed the healing, connection, authentic worship of God in the music and prayers. He was totally right. I wonder what all I missed only focused on my own wants. ]

My memory of not hearing Rev Al Green’s sermon brought me back to Rev. Dr. Teresa Dulyea-Parker words and our discussion. She said that our communities are full of people who are hurting, confused, scared, and lost all waiting for the church to show up. The people are out there waiting; we know exactly who they are. They are not hidden. They need the church and the church needs them. So what’s the problem? The problem is the church is waiting on THEM to show up. We structure our programs, resources, and energy waiting on them to come through our doors. If they are waiting on us to show up, and we are waiting on them to show up, we both are at a huge stalemate. We both are just waiting. Someone has to make the first move. Jesus directly and indirectly states that us, the church, has the sole responsibly to make the move. We must go to those who are waiting. We do not have the luxury to just sit back and wait. Because those who are in pain, struggling, confused, scared and alone, those individuals who were full of excitement, anticipation, those who desperately need some love and happiness, those that want to hear the word of God, will eventually quit waiting and give up. Then when the church finally arrives, it is too late. BE the church to someone this week, show up, and connect them to the love of Jesus Christ. End the waiting for us all.
See ya in church but until then end the waiting and take care of yourself and one another

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