Thursday, August 1, 2013
The Preacher’s Corner
“...where cross the crowded ways of life.”
This year I spent my vacation rambling around canyons in Utah. I spent two Sundays away from my congregation, which left me with the choice they freely make every Lord’s Day: to go to church or not to go.
The first Sunday I was so far back in the wilderness that it would have been a hundred miles to any place of worship that was even remotely close to my own belief, so I chose to say my prayers in nature’s cathedral, and I found it was a lovely experience indeed.
The second Sunday found me headed toward home and I planned to stop off in Little Rock where a friend of mine serves and hear his sermon. Unfortunately, somewhere in Oklahoma I stopped at what was billed as an “authentic Route 66 café-roadhouse,” where I must have eaten some bad lettuce. By the time I got to Little Rock, I decided I had better head for home. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say I spent Sunday morning in the emergency room.
All this is to say that I was reminded that there are other places people can be on Sunday mornings. The first week I realized that there are beautiful places in nature where one can encounter God. Some will argue that golf courses are such places, and I will not deny it. Enjoying my Sunday lunch at a little roadside inn at the entrance to Capitol Reef National Park, I saw how much fun it is to be free and unencumbered on a Sunday morning. People were having a wonderful time.
The second Sunday gave me a sober reminder that sometimes we cannot be at church even when we want to be. Here was an ER full to overflowing with people with all the illnesses our Lord beheld, and like Jesus, the staff there was healing on the Sabbath Day. Most of the people seemed to be there because they had no insurance and had no place else to go. I will never understand why those who oppose health care reform would leave in place a system that forces the uninsured to go to the most expensive source of medical assistance for lack of insurance that would pay for an ordinary doctor’s visit or minor medical clinic.
People who were really sick had to wait for hours and hours while those who could and should have gone elsewhere were helped. Of course, the hospital will likely never collect the huge bills it sends out to those folk, which drives up the cost for everyone else. I wished our Washington lawmakers who have premier health care could have sat there and kept watch with me. God bless all those who work to make people well against overwhelming odds. Our Savior knows and understands.
My point in writing all this is that people do have choices and reasons for missing church on Sunday, and I think this puts an obligation on churches to have something worthwhile on their part to offer. We cannot and should not count on mere duty or a sense of obligation to bring people into the Lord’s house. The church needs to offer real help and real hope to the situations people face in their everyday lives. Enough of sermons on obscure points of doctrine, or against sins that other people than we ourselves commit. Somehow we need to bring the wonder of those canyons and the awful desperation of that emergency room into closer contact with what goes on in God’s house. Then, we would be more like Jesus who, like the hymn says, is found “where cross the crowded ways of life.”
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