i need a church

IMGP1268It is early morning. Too early. The February freeze won’t loosen its grip and it creeps into this dark, before-the-sunrise home. Its cold, sharp fingers burn as I kiss Jay goodbye. He’s got a plane to catch. Bulgaria. More than half of my heart explodes as he closes the door.

Into the emptiness of the sleeping room, I tap out Ed Sheeran i see fire ukraine revolution and he sings me a song for this generation. A song that seems a prophetic voice for the revolution that is Ukraine right now. There are images of Maidan caressing his smooth voice –

honest, raw. war. our reality. pain. blood and death. fire. ice

This is the global neighborhood that I call home.

IMGP1000And there are whispers of revolution and uncertainty everywhere around us like a keg of gunpowder with a wick that is the last shivering line between then and now. None of us know how peace and freedom sleep together.

But, oh how we wish that they could.

How we pray that they would.

And someone wonders how war and Jesus find a way.

The sand of our world is turning blood red and the frozen snow is too. And, somehow, someone, some way should do something, say something.

If only God had the good sense to make these answers clear.

And, if the answers are like those exhaled, intangible vapors of our hot breath in the freezing air? At least they are honest answers.

Give them the God of Jacob that wrestles with the soul through our long, dark night but don’t give them silence and don’t give them easy answers.

Our faith is bigger than that.

Our God is bigger than that.

None of us knows how Jesus and war find a way.

Bonhoeffer didn’t.

King didn’t.

The Syrian Christians, the Coptic Christians, the North Koreans in concentration camps, and they, just the beginning of a tortured list;  they deserve more than an easy, textbook answer from us.

They deserve more than silence.

IMG_0005 And, maybe, maybe I resonate here because my babies are becoming women in the midst of this fog. Or maybe two decades in another land wrecks your soul. Or maybe the God of eternity just wired me this way ..

But, I am pointing my bony finger at a storm rising in the church and I am asking us to consider our response, because this Christ-Body in this Earth Kingdom is in turmoil.

It is the last thing our troubled world needs.

Maybe, it is the last thing our fragile world can bare.

So, may I be honest for a moment?

We need a Church. (Can I get an Amen?)

We need a Church, here in the battlefield, now in the night.

We need a Church,

and I don’t care how your coffee tastes on a Sunday morning, or even if the worship band plays on key, or if the video works – those are comfortable choices for people seeking comfortable lives

it is not that they are wrong questions,

it is just that they are irrelevant questions while the shrapnel rains down on our heads.

IMGP3549We need a Church. (Can I get an hallelujah?)

And, I am pretty convinced that this Church will not look the same in every land, but in North America and in Western Europe, the decline and troubling exodus of our youth from the sanctity of our walls should function like an air raid siren that roars through the night.

We need a Church. (Someone wave that white handkerchief)

and it is not that the Church will die, because the Church is in God’s hands, the Church is God’s idea, the Church is the Bride of Christ … God’s got the Church.

White ChurchIt is a funny thing, standing here in a small Romanian village in front of the remnants of a once vast, strong, and towering fortress. The folks here, they hammered out a life, they used to store their crops inside the strong tower here, and when the raiding army would come in the dark to steal souls and slice bodies, someone would cry out ‘Sanctuary’ and everybody would run …

…the families, the town drunk, the prostitutes, the sick, the poor, the rebellious, the mayor and the pious…

…to the church…

…well, they just all piled in together because sanctuary was for everyone.

I am just wondering if your Church is still a sanctuary?

Can I get an ‘Amen’?

I don’t care about your carpet color.

I need a Church.

IMG_0004Because the Hungarian government created refugee camps to help the exodus of Ukrainians running from their war-torn land. Instead, those very same spaces are now flooded with Kosova’s twenty-something generation. They were babies when the war of genocide sliced through their land and stripped their hope like a shivering Auschwitz survivor. Three months ago, Kosovars started filling buses and waving goodbye to their families. They move down Bill Clinton Boulevard with tattered hopes and shards of broken dreams in a backpack and its a gamble for a better life.

And next week, Jay and I are going to the camps to visit Kosovar refugees in Hungarian camps and we don’t know one soul, and we don’t speak their language, and most of them don’t see God the way that we do, if they see God at all.

So, we need a Church.

Not a building. Not a militant, decisive, God-body. Not a program. Not an institution. Not a title.

IMG_0339And in spite of my age or because of it, I believe that the bride named Sanctuary should move amongst people, dressed in community rather than as an institution.

I hope that she values people instead of objectifying them as projects, and mission statements, and target demographics.

I want her to sit down with the precious people of our planet and make a space for discussion and courageously whisper, ‘I don’t know’, if it is the most honest and God-honoring response in the midst of their pain and war and disease.

I am praying that she can embrace leadership by rejecting titles of power. So that the privilege of speaking formatively into lives becomes the great God-adventure where skin touches skin in a together-journey.

I need a church.

I need a church burgeoning with young people full of passion and submissive sacrifice and opennesss to the other

So, father forgive them, please, if their questions probe too deeply or their dialogue is too direct, or their sleeves are too long or their piercings are too deep …

IMG_0371I need a church that can speak Jesus in their actions and attitudes – One in spirit, in spite of age, race, culture and language or maybe because of them.

I need a church …

because there is an entire world in my backyard tonight.

Would someone, somewhere, somehow rip the night curtain with a cry of ‘Sanctuary’?

because i need a church.


3 thoughts on “i need a church

  1. Good writing! Thanks for your thoughts! (P.S., we used an Albanian translator living in Budapest for the conference last year…there has got to be someone you can bring to go visit the refugees who speaks Albanian!

    1. Hey Melody. Thanks for the comment. As to Albanian translator – have one going with us — friends from CRU or Agape — don’t know how they are known in Croatia.

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