Read Romans 15:1-13
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22 NRSV)
What does a Christian look like? Can you tell one a part from anyone else in the world? What sets a Christian a part from the non-Christians, apart from the Christian’s profession of belief in Jesus Christ? Are we joyous, happy, loving, caring compassionate, understanding, patient, and forgiving? Or, when the world looks at us, does it see a reality that is far different than our own self-perception of ourselves? I could go in a different direction with this, but for now, I will stick with the next of the Pope’s 15 Ailments of the Church.
Ailment of the Church #12: Having a Funeral Face. The church is supposed to be a people of hope, a people of unending joy, a people are are moved by compassion, and a people that are driven by love. Yet, in reality, the people of the church fall well short of that. First, let me remind you that by church I do not mean the building that people worship in. That is a place of worship, but that is not “the church.” Yes, most of the time when people enter our places of worship they see a happy people. But happiness and joy are two different things. I am not so certain they find joy when they walk into our doors.
When people see the church, whether it be within a place of worship, within a Christian organization, or within our community and/or the world, most people see a people who are angry, judgmental, manipulative, cut throat, filled to the brim with deceit and overflowing with the unholy art of slander through gossip. What’s more, they see a people who are cynical rather than hopeful. They see a people who are sullen as opposed to a people who are filled with God’s joy. They see a people who are fearful rather than a people who are faithful.
This is what I believe Pope Francis I calls, “Having a Funeral Face.” Christians, if we truly believe what the Bible and our own collective experiences tell us, should be acting as if they are at a great wedding celebration…not as if they are sitting at a funeral waiting for the body of the dearly departed to be brought out for burial. We should be joyful, hopeful, faithful, full of excitement and inviting of others to join us. Everyone LOVES a good party. Everyone loves to get invited to a great party; however, no one loves attending funerals and no one is bound to get excited about a funeral dirge.
We, as the church, need to get excited again. We need to take off our funeral face and throw it into the fire. We need to remember that we celebrate a RISEN and LIVING CHRIST. We are called to celebrate Christ’s resurrection and to partake in it, so that others may share in the same hope we have. Christ is calling us to be the people the church was called to be. Christ is inviting us to leave the funeral and rejoin the wedding. The door is open and the opportunity presents itself. Will we be a people consumed by the death of our very own faith, will be consumed by our own funeral sores? Or will we be resurrected with the LIVING CHRIST and live a life of pure and eternal joy and peace? Will continue down the road of hopelessness, or will we be agents of God’s hope, healing and wholeness. The choice is ours to make.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“The dead do not know the value of white sheets.” – Haitian Proverb
Lord, thank you for breathing life into me. Guide to a better way of living and expressing my life in you. Fill me with your joy, your peace and your love! Amen.