Sunday, July 6, 2008

The House of the Lord

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

                                               Psalm 122.1


It’s Sunday. Many of us are up and about, truly excited about entering into worship. Many of us are getting ready out of obligation, thinking about what’s next after we get the church-thing out of the way. Many others of us are waking up and rolling over, not the least bit concerned about going to church. We stopped that a long time ago, once we figured out that churches weren’t built for people like us. 

The sad fact is this: it only takes one or two unwelcome experiences at God’s House to decline future invitations to worship. Unlike the Psalmist David, for a lot of us, going to the House of the Lord is no cause to rejoice. The problem is never the church.  It’s always the people in it.

Missed Opportunities

Instead of focusing on what we avoid by not going to church, shouldn’t we at least be a little curious about what we miss by not being there? Regular, communal worship has been an essential aspect of Christian life since the beginning, passed down to us from Jesus’s first followers.  It’s not a requirement for following Him. But even so, it’s an opportunity we should seize as people of faith.

We know church pews groan with people who have no desire or intention to actually live by His teachings.  Allowing their hypocrisy or hostility to drive us away gives them undue influence in our lives.  Think of this: rather than escape getting what we don’t want or need from them, could it be that by going to church we can give them something they want or need?

Offering and Receiving

Church encourages us in our walk with Christ.  But we don’t go to church seeking encouragement.  We go to encourage others--to give, not get.  And if we do that, we’ll receive more than we need or expect.  According to Jesus, here’s what happens when we choose to offer instead of receive:

Give and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  (Luke 6.38)

Church people may never repay the kindness, tolerance, and encouragement we give them.  But we have Jesus’s word that we’ll receive more than enough anyway.  Where or whom it comes from isn’t important; the minute we offer it to others, it’s on its way to us.  Going to church, then, provides us a venue to encourage others and opens new avenues for others to encourage us.  No wonder David rejoiced when his friends invited him to church!

Churches like this don’t want us, or our help, but they most definitely need it.  If we can’t go to them, we can take them to God.  When you talk to Him, don’t forget to mention churches like Putnamville.  

Web Sighting: Find a Church

Thank God that while churches like Putnamville persist in excluding GLBT believers, His Spirit is calling literally thousands of others to welcome us. Some of them are founded and led by openly gay ministers. But the majority are established, predominately straight congregations who have obeyed His call. They cover a wide spectrum of denominations, traditions, and styles of worship. 

If you haven’t found a welcoming church, you’re closer to one than you think. It may vary in numerous ways from your previous church experience and require some getting used to. (Lamentably, very few Fundamentalist churches have yet to respond to God’s call for inclusion.) Still, these differences will prove minor in comparison to the enormous strength you’ll gain from a steady diet of sound teaching, worship, and Christian acceptance.

The fine people at have amassed an amazing directory of GLBT-friendly congregations around the world. Give it a look and visit a church near you soon!  (And while you're there, check out the rest of the site.  It's got some nice surprises.) 

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