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Prayer Request: The Holy Catholic Church

June 13, 2021

I believe in the holy catholic church

— The Apostles’ Creed

“Been a real interesting last several days there on that blog, Joe,” I was told. “But I gotta ask…why bother?”

I heard that first part as a compliment, and thank you.

I want to answer the question in the second part, the “why bother?” part. It’s a good question.

Plenty of people leave plenty of churches for plenty of reasons.

I haven’t.

Have I been frustrated, angry, saddened, hurt, or ignored by churches? To be honest, yes. Maybe you have been as well.

Have I been welcomed, encouraged, forgiven, helped, or tolerated by churches? Again, honestly, yes. Maybe you have too.

“If you find a perfect church, don’t go there,” a guy I used to have coffee with loved to say. “You’ll ruin it.”

You might remember my favorite understanding of a church: Sinners Anonymous.

Long before any of us came along, someone wiser than I’ll ever be wrote this —-

Basically all of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners. Scripture leaves no doubt about it:

There’s nobody living right, not even one,
    nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God.
They’ve all taken the wrong turn;
    they’ve all wandered down blind alleys.
No one’s living right;
    I can’t find a single one.

Their throats are gaping graves,
    their tongues slick as mudslides.
Every word they speak is tinged with poison.
    They open their mouths and pollute the air.
They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year,
    litter the land with heartbreak and ruin,
Don’t know the first thing about living with others.
    They never give God the time of day.

This makes it clear, doesn’t it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place!

And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else? Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.

But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this.

Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us.

Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

—- That’s Romans 3:9-24 in Gene Peterson’s version called The Message. That’s St. Paul. That’s the Good News of the Gospel.

With which we have been entrusted as part of Christ’s Holy Church. Yes, “we”…as in first person plural. Us. You and me and so many others.

See you back here tomorrow, and let’s pick up right there.

Prayer Request: that all of us can remember Whose we are, and that those of us involved in a church remember Whose church it is.

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