Thursday, May 30, 2013

Our Mission

I wish someone would write a book about the goofy traditions certain churches have that just defy explanation.  I read once about a Lutheran church in Minnesota that was furious with their new pastor because he didn’t touch the radiator (space heater) before he served communion. He told them he had never heard of that as part of the Communion liturgy.  He even spoke to some of his seminary professors, none of whom had ever heard of such a thing.  One even told him he might have stumbled onto some strange Scandinavian sect (The Church of the Holy Radiator?).  In desperation, the young man decided to call his predecessor, who was enjoying his retirement.  When the old man heard the story, he laughed uncontrollably.  When he finally regained composure, he said, “It gets cold in Minnesota, and on those cold days, I was afraid I would shock the first person who came to receive communion. So before I called them forward, I would touch the radiator to discharge any static.  I had no idea they would turn that into a tradition.” 
Closer to home, there are churches that believe it’s wrong to use musical instruments in church, because they aren’t mentioned in the New Testament.  Now, these are my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I love fact, I look forward to seeing them in Heaven someday, and especially look forward to seeing their expressions of surprise when they see me there!  But I must confess: It seems silly to me to base a doctrine on what’s NOT mentioned in Scripture.  Many things aren’t mentioned in the New Testament, including pants; I doubt we want to follow that logic.  At any rate, years ago in another town, I used to lead a worship service at a nursing home on Tuesday afternoons.  The director of the nursing home was a member of one of these churches.  Still, she would come out every Tuesday and help me lead the singing (believe me, I needed the help).  Since we had a pianist accompanying us, I figured maybe she was more open-minded than her fellow church members.  So when Christmas was approaching, I invited her to sing in our community choir.  She had a lovely voice, and we were going to have people from every church in town except hers, so why not?  She said, “We don’t believe in singing in church with instruments.”  I was baffled.  It was okay to sing about Jesus with a piano in a nursing home, but that same situation inside a church building was sin?  Huh?
It makes me wonder how much stuff WE do in our church that really has no purpose.  The best way to answer that question is to determine what our true purpose is.  We’re continuing to look at Colossians, a guidebook to holy living.  This Sunday, we'll take a look at Colossians 1:24-29.  In this passage, I believe Paul tells us what our purpose, our true mission, is as a church.  And maybe as we study together, we'll hear the Holy Spirit reveal some goofy stuff we do that needs to be set aside.  Or even better, some important stuff we need to start doing. 

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