464px-Vincent_van_Gogh_-_The_Church_in_Auvers-sur-Oise,_View_from_the_Chevet_-_Google_Art_Project

The Church is so busy acting like a business, it’s in danger of forgetting what it’s supposed to be there for…

Many years ago as a tender and wild young man, I was in Athens on a vacation gone wrong, and I was in distress.

I went to a couple of churches in the evening for prayer, but they were closed: the doors were locked, the lights were off, and there was no phone number to reach anyone. I found one church open the next day, and descending to the under-the street location, attempted to communicate with the minister and ask him to pray for me. Not only did he not understand a word of English (and I no Greek), but he was eyeing me up and down as though he was disgusted with me. He likely thought I was a bum, a tramp, and that I was “on drugs”, since I’d been crying and my eyes were probably red.

He sneered, and stopping short of evicting me or calling the cops, he ignored me. I remember thinking that I was glad the churches in my country (the UK at the time) were not like that.

Back to the present-the other evening at about 8:00 pm-and I was worried about someone close to me and I tried to call the church we’ve been attending for a little information. I was greeted by an oh-so-polite answering machine which aided me in leaving a message for various members of staff. That was it: there was no human voice, no after-hours phone number, and no chance of a human voice until “our office hours” at 9:00 am the next day.

If I had been close to suicide and needed an encouraging voice; a word from the Lord; a kind arm around my shoulders to prevent me pulling the trigger, I may by now be one of the statistics which says that suicide is the tenth biggest killer in the United States. Instead of hoping to make an appointment with one of those well-paid ministers who perhaps would have been too busy playing golf anyway, I may not have waited until 9:00am the next day.

Any sincere reading of the gospels will tell us that Jesus, having been “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”, is most concerned about those who are in need materially, physically and emotionally. Perhaps that’s how we should be too?

Oh Lord, help me to be someone who is sensitive to the broken, and ready to help them when they need me…

Advertisements