Monday, June 25, 2012
The Loneliest Church in the World
When I walk around town or through campus, I notice how little people interact with others face-to-face in our modern culture. Think of all the multitasking we do in our lives these days, yet how little we spend in real human communication. It is more common for someone to be looking at a phone, than it is for them to look you in the eye and greet you.
Facebook, Twitter, texting, email, etc. are full of information and have some communication built into them, but they are all impersonal methods of communication. There is no real person-to-person interaction and the results are that our culture is becoming less friendly, less personal, less intimate.
In the midst of this impersonal culture our faith calls us to become a community of people gathered together in God's name. We are called to care for one another. Love one another. Serve one another. We fail at this miserably, because we don't even KNOW one another.
God gives us the gift of a specific parish. A church family. Yet, we treat each other as strangers. We don't reach out to each other. God wants us to attack the loneliness in the parishes we are in. The heart of so many people is yearning for true communion with others in our parishes. Yet, we widely ignore most of those sitting around us. I imagine Jesus would weep at how unwelcoming and impersonal most parishes are today.
Church can be very lonely for a lot of people. Many come to church, participate, and then leave without any real human interaction, except for the sign of peace. It is very common to have to crawl over people into a pew, because so many sit at the edges of the pew, and give off the message that others aren't welcome to sit next to them. Even our body language says a lot.
Our churches can seem to be like the wilderness Jesus entered into.
Our churches are sometimes the loneliest places in the world, because they are meant to be open, welcoming, warm, and friendly.
But, most are not...
What can we do about it?
What does God want out of our parishes?