Letters to the Church (II)

Dear Church,

Your words are so beautiful.

Love, grace, joy. Faith, hope and love. We will never let you go. We love you.

We would be devastated if you left us.

Please don’t leave. There is a home for you here.

You make promises you can’t keep, but thank you for trying.

We look together at the Son of Man, the Son of God. A warrior who chose words and grace over swords and chains. I like to think he was a big hugger. That he always had a box of tissues to the side, just in case, and that he made the best, most comforting cups of tea.

And let’s be clear: you have very good coffee, and your box of tissues is always to hand. Your offices are full of them, your prayer ministries order them in bulk. You even hug me when I’m in pain, you hold me till my weeping subsides.

As long as I keep my hands to myself. None of that here.

Thank you for not letting me go. It really does mean a lot.

This world is incomplete. Still we ride out a punishment of sickness, sin and death. The battle is won but we haven’t harvested the victory yet, even if we now see glimmers of glory, and faith calls us to hope.

Thank you for admitting you haven’t got it all together.

Thank you for realising that sometimes you make mistakes, too.

But I cannot thank you for this.

Daily, weekly, monthly we gather and cry out to a King to come and redeem our hearts. Together with one voice we call out in united strength with billions across this messed up earth. We know that He hears us, that He too cries out on our behalf.

You cannot exclude me from that. We are one body, even if I am the gangrenous limb that you want to amputate. We will still be one body even if you sever me to keep yourself strong.

But what is a body if it starts to chop away, boxing body parts up and storing them for later use? What is an eye without its eyelid, lashes and brows? What can a finger do without fingernails, or joints, or bones? What is one man in a two-billion-strong army?

You hide me in a glove, tuck me away and make me know my place. You tell me clearly this is for the greater good. This is for my good. This will glorify the church.

Still you take my money. Still you take my prayers. Still you add me to your lists.

Do that thing over there. Nobody can see you there.

For nine years I have walked about Zion. Studied her, considered her, that I might tell of it to the next generation.

All I can tell the youth is of locked doors, shut away chests. Barriers and chains.

Is this our God? Is this what they meant?

I thought Jesus knelt in the sand, covered the blows, hung on a cross. I thought Jesus prayed that we might be one. I thought Jesus declared that light had come in to the world, but all I see is darkness closing in.

I speak of what I know, I testify of what I have seen. You don’t show me light. You show me tolerance, ambivalence, silence.

My King – OUR King – wouldn’t stand for this. This is a King who took the enslaved and freed them. This is a King who fed them, clothed them, saturated them with love.

Your love is selective.

You can stay, but until you do what we say, all you can do is watch.

Jesus never asked anyone to sit and watch.

Before I could talk, music was my home. Before I could write, I could scribe scores. The piano was my solace and comfort, eighty-eight keys to my soul.

You can’t play that here.

I hear His voice clearly. He gives me words of power, He tells me what He wants to do.

We don’t want to hear that from you.

I am a big hugger. I will stand with you, take you in my arms and hold you tight until your weeping subsides. I will ask that King for your comfort.

Don’t do that. Go do that thing over there. Nobody can see you there.

I know I have gifts. I know I have strengths. You don’t want them, you won’t take them, but to deny them is to deny my identity in Him. I didn’t come to be an audience member. I didn’t come to just stack chairs.

This isn’t about me. This is about HIM. He can be glorified in me, He wants to be glorified in me. But I don’t have the key to the door you’ve shut me behind.

I didn’t come to hide. I came to be set free. I came to give life. I came to spread the best news.

I can’t thank you for this.

I refuse to hate you for this.

Remember these chains.

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