Pastoral Ponderings—Messy 6 OCT

I love that paper towel commercial that proclaims as its tag line “Life’s messy—clean it up!”  It’s a good reminder of the messy character of the life of any church or group of people—at least for groups composed of more than zero people!  Things regularly happen wherever I am to remind me how messy and broken life is, and that no group or church is immune.

Just a few months in at the very first church I served as pastor years ago while I was still in seminary, I welcomed both a new District Superintendent and Bishop on their very first day on the job with a call: (NOT here at Twin Falls, mind you!)  “Our church custodian was just arrested for showing pornographic videos to neighborhood kids in the church…”  I’ve known pastors imprisoned for various forms of abuse, one of my old youth choir directors, while still a pillar of the church, raped his own daughter, who was a good friend of mine.  I’ve had neighborhood kids crying in the parsonage living room, asking for help from an abusing grandmother, or piling into the church following a shooting down the street.  I’ve had a jail visit one Sunday morning that made me late for a worship service I was leading that morning.  They say about 10% of any group if people are likely alcoholics, and porn addiction is even worse.  According to a 2019 report, “64 percent of Christian men and 15 percent of Christian women report watching porn at least once a month.”

Life is indeed messy.  Our lives are messy inside the church, where we’ve found hope and help in Jesus, and in helping each other out of our messes.  Our neighbors’ lives are messy too, but many of them are really struggling to find hope and help in time of need.  I once wrote to a judge on behalf of a parishioner, “Ours is a church of ‘wounded healers,’ where broken and hurting people find hope and healing for themselves, in order to be better able to be blessings for others.”  I hope that’s true here.  How do we let those around us know that this church is more of a combat hospital or a self-help group- just starting to patch people up, or pulling each other out of our own swamps- rather than a club of holy people beyond life’s struggles?

Perhaps that’s part of why I like the concept of “Messy Church” so much, as it’s at least a step in the right direction.  I’m excited that our next Messy Church on Oct. 25, is coinciding with Trunk or Treat, because even though many people might be scared of church, few people are scared off from Halloween (ironic, isn’t it?)! So, I invite you to be thinking of how you might be able to help with or contribute to this coming opportunity to help our neighbors know that we’re messy too—and we welcome others in the midst of their messes.

Life’s messy—clean it up!  Rev. Jim

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