Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sanctimonious Ceremonies

I give you fair warning: This is going to be a heavy post. If you want lighthearted, then at least for today, slowly back away from my blog and bookmark it for tomorrow. You're still here? Okay, here goes nothing! I am deeply gutted by a number of things that are going on simultaneously in my life. Well, not my life personally, but they impact me indirectly. I got an e-mail yesterday asking that we pray for Amy Stockstill, the wife of Joel Stockstill who is Larry Stockstill's son (Bethany World Prayer Center). My understanding is that Amy is less than 30 years old. Yesterday, she was given 24 hours to live having battled with Hodgkin's Lymphoma for more than a year.

About the same time I received the e-mail, I reconnected with some old friends on facebook who were part of the college group I pastored while at New Life Church in the late 1990's. One of them informed me that a young lady, whose wedding I had officiated back in 1998 or 1999, had divorced her husband and become an atheist and a feminist. I was gutted. I remember the young lady very fondly. Her life has not been easy. Her dad committed suicide because of some personal struggles he was having even though he had been a licensed minister. She got married really young (I think she was 19) and her first child (a son) is autistic while her second child (another son) has spinal cord cancer. Meanwhile, we in the Church continue to pay lip service with our loud rhetoric, our empty platitudes, and our weak attempts at becoming "relevant" to the culture.

Well, I've got an idea about relevant. I think relevant is being able to be 'present' in the lives of hurting people rather than concerning ourselves with how well they are matching up with our doctrines. I think relevant is letting the power of God be demonstrated through us even at the risk of looking stupid. No doubt that would have brought some measure of comfort to this young lady who ended up giving up on God because of the way He is reflected in the Church. Matthew Murray's (the young man who went on a shooting rampage at NLC and was himself gunned down) writings reveal a lot to us about where we are failing as the Church. We cannot afford to keep playing games, peoples lives depend on the authenticity of how we live out "Christ and Him crucified."

These aren't empty words, Jesus really did die on the cross for humanity, and that's got to count for something when we are dealing with the lost, the hurting and the next generation. We've lost Matthew Murray. But what about this young lady and others like her that have slipped through the cracks while we conduct our sanctimonious ceremonies. If you can pray, please pray!


Joey said...

Yes! I agree!! I find myself still struggling to jump out and really reach out to people because I'm afraid of what I might "myself into." ENOUGH!! GERONAMO!!! I'm jumping! God will take care of the other stuff! I spoke with 2 students today struggling with panic, anxiety, fear! My gosh! The mission field is all around me!

Thea said...

The older I get the more this rings true with me. I don't match up with what church protocal would require of me & rarely have. This used to be something that bothered me but more and more I find freedom in it. Thanks be to God that is something He likes about me! Good thing I will answer to only one. Great post.

Joseph said...

They don't call me the "deep end guy" for nothing. I guess you didn't realize what you'd signed up for when you agreed to serve as a pastor at The Well.

Protocol is overrated. The only protocol that really counts for something, is the protocol in coming into His presence daily so that we can be filled to overflowing. Thanks for joining the conversation.

Kim said...

Joseph, interesting piece you wrote about me (and a couple of others). It's always interesting to get the perspective from the other side.


Joseph said...

Thanks for commenting. Let me assure you that I am not on "the other side." While we may differ in what we believe, I am on your side and always have been.

Thea said...

Joseph -
Agreed....but that protocol hardly feels like protocol when it is something deeply rooted in your heart. I guess that's grace...

Est said...

These wrods jumped out at me as I read the word this morning. "Mercy triumphs over Judgment" James 12:13 We as Christians MUST show mercy and leave our judgment out, God will reveal himself and people will be lead to the foot of the Cross!