elaine a. heath

Spirituality, Theology, Creativity, Community

The Gospel According to Englewood

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/12/27/church-circle-friends-faith-englewood/4225855/

So I was reading Psalm 135 this morning and what came to mind was this church in Englewood that has decided the church building and what goes on inside it, especially the Sunday worship gathering, are at best peripheral to its real work of neighboring. Psalm 135 talks about idols of gold and silver, and how those who make and worship such idols become just like the idols they worship–silent, deaf, blind, and lifeless. We become like the God we worship. It is easy to read this Psalm and think about the plutocrats who are in fact silent, deaf, blind and lifeless in the face of human and planetary need. To be honest, those were the first idolators that came to mind. Closely followed by us good, Sunday worship attending, tithing, polite, bell tower and pews, handbell choir loving church folk. We become like the God we worship. What happens to a people when it drifts from worshipping the living, untamed God to adoration of a pantheon of buildings, programs, professionalized clergy, and institutionalism? We become like the god we worship. Rigid, shallow, insipid, out of touch, obsessed with our little fiefdom. Ultimately we become silent, deaf, blind, and lifeless. What captivates me about the church in Englewood is that they have decided to follow Jesus outside into the neighborhood and have discovered there a vast universe of Christian possibility, an ever expanding universe where they laugh at the idea of counting members. Their liturgy–the work of their people–is to inhabit their neighborhood, and in that place both find and announce the good news.