Most of us who read Reflections are church people. We know what it’s like when the church is at its worst. On its bad days, the church is like the 99 sheep who are not going anywhere, the coins that never leave the piggy bank, and the elder brother who would rather be bitter than join the party. At our worst, we’re comfortable where we are and judgmental toward those who are anywhere else.
Some of us learned most of what we know about sexism, racism, and greed at church. During business meetings, we are more likely to reference the bylaws than the Gospels. During budget discussions, we make it clear that salaries and the building are our real concerns. During Sunday school, we trade the same ideas we had five years ago.
Some of our new songs sound like bad karaoke. Some of our old songs were out of date a century ago. Some of our sermons would have seemed old before the hundred-year-old hymns. At our worst, the church feels old and tired, but that is not the whole story.
The writer of Psalm 119 knows that faith can be better than that. The church at its best is young and alive. On our good days, we love God’s way (vv. 167-168), long for God’s guidance (v. 169), pray for God’s deliverance (v. 170), praise God’s directions (v. 171), and sing of God’s goodness (v. 172).
The church can be the gathering of honest souls that listen for God in meetings, classes, and worship. We can go beyond loving the church and love God.
How could we see our faith not as routine, but with the fervency of the psalmist who writes, Let my cry come before you, O LORD?
God, help me imagine the life you hope for me, take a step closer to it, and be grateful. Amen.