And hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
~ Mark 2:17
So often in Church we hear the remark that we have to live in the world without being of the world. But it may be more difficult to be in the Church without being of the Church.
A few months ago I had to participate in boundary training for the denomination I serve. It is a course that I must participate in every few years to keep my standing. It is a reminder to clergy to create good boundaries with members of their faith communities. During the training, I learned that many of my colleagues no longer make visits to the homes of their members.
Many of them shared that they now make members schedule a visit to the church office. Since I visit most of my hospice patients in their home, listening to them share this was just something I couldn't imagine, but during the training I understood why some circumstances would warrant this practice.
It suddenly made me realize that in order for us to not be of the world, the church sometimes must separate itself even from those it is called to serve.
You might say that the gathering left me sad on many levels. I think mostly because I recognize the need to be present with and for people, and how the fear of something taken "wrong" might effect what "others" think.
I guess in many ways I felt like the mission of the church has been compromised, and that the focus has somewhat been blurred, while providing clergy with excuses to not be present with people.
When this happens, especially in the Church, these things then blind us from what we came to see and deafen us to what we came to hear.
Still, it is in the Church that Christ dwells, invites us to His table, and speaks to us words of eternal love.
Being in the Church without being of it is a great spiritual challenge, but being present for one another is our essential need when developing community.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2018
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.