Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Abuse of the Church

I wrote the following poem a short time ago when I reflected on the relationship between individual members of the Body of Christ (i.e., the Church) who had been or continue to be ostracized and abused by other members who claim to represent the Church as a whole. For anyone who has witnessed spousal abuse (physical, verbal, etc.), as I did growing up, this poem may paint a vivid image of abuses we'd rather forget; for that I empathize and apologize. Undoubtedly, those experiences inform the writing of this poem.

The title--"The Abuse of the Church"--came later, but its ambiguity has helped me to reflect more deeply on this relationship, which at times seems dysfunctional to continue. That is, I initially gave it this title, thinking of the Church's abuse of other people, but then later considered that if the object of abuse was a member of the Church, someone inseparable from the Body of Christ, then the title not only spoke of the Church's role as culprit, but as victim. What appears to be abuse of "others" actually turns out to be self-abuse. And that is the great tragedy.

The Abuse of the Church

You hit me again
for the last time
I can't stand
with you anymore
I had hoped
the last time
was the last time
But again you hit me
I tried to convince myself
with the memories of photographs
and past acts of love
that the storm of you would pass
But again you hit me
I am bruised
where bruises do not reach
where moth and rust do not corrupt
you hated when you should have loved
spoke when you should have listened
choked when you should have hugged
I hope now
that God will grant our divorce
even as I contemplate
how I might still stay
daring you
to hit me again
until we are tired
and agree
that we'll all understand it better
in the sweet by and by

Monday, October 5, 2009

Words of Welcome

Words of welcome I composed for Sunday, August 30, 2009 at First Baptist Church of Dayton:

Slow down! Listen. It will do us no good to hurry here. Here, the first is last and the last is first. Here, the greatest must become like the least of these. Here, there is neither male nor female, rich or poor, black or white, young or old, straight or gay; for we are all one in Christ Jesus. All our striving to be the fastest, the first, the greatest, or the strongest will only distract us from the voice of the One who calls us and draws us near. So settle down. Center down. And be here.