Monday, February 20, 2012

Still Yearning for Transfiguration?

Yesterday, our pastor talked about transforming the way we think about church.  All too often, we approach church thinking about whether or not it's doing anything for us.  Do we like the music?  Does the church teach our children how to be good?  Would we miss the people if we didn't go?

Our pastor reminded us that the church should be for the people who haven't yet discovered the church.  It's not about us and our self-centered little lives.  Of course, he used kinder language.

I'd been thinking of similar ideas earlier in the week when I'd been writing this post for the Living Lutheran website.  My assignment was to write something about Transfiguration Sunday.  In past years, I'd have written about personal transformation.  This year, I decided to focus on Peter and those shelters he wanted to build (booths in some translations).

I'd also been reading this post by Nadia Bolz-Weber, where she uses the term "the Babylonian captivity of the church buildings."  Wow.  I wish I had written that!

Instead, I wrote a few paragraphs about the problems of being tied to church buildings and asked, "What would happen if we left these booths behind?"

Now I know that many of us can't leave our buildings behind, particularly not in the horrible real estate markets that still oppress so many communities.  So I wrote about ways that we could transform our buildings so that they could transfigure us.

Here's how I ended, and it's a good vision to hold on to as we progress to Ash Wednesday and Lent: 

"I am transfigured by a vision of church that contains all sorts of bodies, from the elderly woman who finds a place to stash her walker to the transgender person who is between sexes, from the man scarred by his latest heart surgery to the pregnant woman.

I am left breathless by this vision of bodies in a variety of colors from a variety of backgrounds. I am inspired by a vision of church that welcomes both the arts of the banner makers and choir members and the arts of the impressionistic painters and mystical poets. I cheer for a church that offers sanctuary from the pointless noise that assaults us in the outside world.

I am transfigured by a vision of a church that flings wide open the doors, both to welcome the stranger with more than just a visitor name tag and to send transformed members out “to heal what is split in the world” (in the words of Gail Godwin)."

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