Monday, June 8, 2009

"Two men went up to the temple to pray..."

This was a reflection I wrote earlier this year based on Luke 18:9-14 that I thought was worth sharing...

I visited a church in Key West, Florida one Sunday morning not long ago. It was the kind of church that practiced high liturgical drama, complete with incents, bells, robes, kneelers, and large traveling crosses. And we did everything according to plan, kneeling, praying, singing, listening and giving, as directed. There’s a danger to all of this, however. Although I believe it is good and right to worship together every Sunday and do such things, we can fool ourselves into thinking that we are better than those who do not. The danger of this thinking is that we can begin to believe, however subtly, that we do not need God as much as those people do.

During a lengthy, straying sermon listing orthodox beliefs, the rector made a passing reference to “the whores of Duvall Street.” I was shocked, and wondered if anyone else had a problem with the phrase. Duvall Street is the busiest business district in all of Key West, and there may be people and businesses that have un-Godly, un-Christian practices that border, if not cross over into, whoredom. But this church on Duvall Street (and every church) is certainly called to do more than just state the obvious, and exalt itself above its neighbors, lest the gospel remain hidden. Genuine piety demands that we humble ourselves before God and love our neighbors, who are in need of God’s mercy as much as we are. This Lent, as we reflect on all that Christ did and does, may our piety draw us closer to God and our neighbors, and not farther away.