Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Lingering Church

It is easy to sit here all cosy and judgemental but I still look on with shock at those left behind to weather Katrina.

There were those no doubt who wanted to take their chances. There were those no doubt that didn't imagine that it was going to be so bad. There were those no doubt who didn't want to leave. But there were those that were scared and wanted to get out but couldn't. There were those without the means to get out but couldn't, those with no option, no choice - so they were left behind.

I looked out at our congregation on Sunday and wondered how many would be left behind? This week I have looked out on our community and wondered how many would be left behind? The queue in the post office, the kids in the park, those waiting for a train, the bus and it struck me that it doesnt take a catastrophic hurricane to leave people behind. Our society leaves people behind daily. Let's face it even our churches are prone to leaving people behind (see here).

Before the hurricane hit I'd written some thoughts, Ringma's words seem all the more poignant.
"Our Western culture is characterised by a poverty of relationships. Our individualism and narcissism have isolated us from each other."
Mother Teresa makes this observation:
"Abandonment is awful poverty. There are poor everywhere," she says, "but the deepest poverty is not being loved."
Ringma continues
"[Mother Teresa's] challenge is to create families, communities, and neighbourhoods of care. The opposite of being abandoned is to be known, cared for, and loved. This involves being present to the other. This is a form of contemplation. it has to do not with rushing by, but with lingering, noticing, responding, caring.

And being present to, lingering, and noticing means that we will be drawn away from our own preoccupations, and into the world, issues, and needs of the other person...Thus abandonment is turned into accompaniment. Companions on the road, companions at the table bring the pattern of embrace instead of abandonment."
There's the challenge not to be a church of abandonment. To be a church that knows, cares and loves the communities we have been called to. To take time to notice respond and care. To linger.There's the challenge not to be a church of unconcerned abandonment but of embrace. Are we up for the challenge or far more comfortable with our pre-occupation with self?
"'Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.'"

Ezekiel 16:49

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Gordon for your powerful insights. Some days we get weary from caring and need a reminder that we need to step up to the mark and keep going for there are those that need us so much.

God Bless

Glenda

Tim said...

well said...

johnny said...

Hey, Gordon. Thanks for this post. You offer so much insight and substance in your blog. Keep it up.

Grace and peace,

John