Monday, January 7, 2013

An Epiphany During Epiphany

Fr. Dale Matson

When I think about the New Testament Church, it is evident to me that the focus was not on social reform yet that is the mission of both the liberal and conservative Churches. The question posed to Christ was, “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) His response redirected their agenda and became the marching orders for the Church. “And he said unto them, it is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 7-8)
            The contemporary Christian Church seems to be in either relevance  or recoil or mode. On the one hand, the relevant Church is pushing headlong toward accommodating a devolving culture. It has turned a blind eye to evil and called ‘blessed’, human conduct that was an anathema to past generations. It has jumped on the bandwagon headed to Hell; a place that it now denies exists. It has abandoned discernment as too judgmental. It is the Church with the social gospel. It is inclusive, gracious, and feminist. The color of the relevant church is green, not an ‘ordinary’ green. It is a false guilt-healing-the-earth-green. It is used by society but not respected. It is a dying irrational prostitute. It cannot say “No”. It is the Church of Pergamum. It’s theme song is “Imagine” by John Lennon.
            The recoil church is political with a social gospel also. It is smug and proper. It is a petition signing, get out the vote, fortress Church. It is a scared Church, no longer enjoying the favor and prestige once bestowed on it by a traditional society that is now pluralistic, hedonistic, narcissistic and pagan. The recoil church is not respected by society either because it is a prostitute used by conservative demagogues. It is not discerning but it is judgmental. It is a Church that is certain of its righteousness and reasonableness but like Ephesus is a loveless Church with no compassion. It cannot say “Yes”. It’s theme song is “A Mighty Fortress, AND Our God”.
            In returning to the marching orders Christ gave His church we find empowerment for mission by God the Holy Spirit. Without mission there is no warrant for empowerment. Without empowerment the Church is a Church in name only. Society cannot be convinced to reform itself. It is by nature self-seeking, self-serving and self-destructive. Society is neither emotionally mature nor cognizant. Society is limbic. Only Christ can change hearts and transform minds. It is not that society has rejected Him as much as it is His Church that has rejected Him. Is the hymn of Invocation still sung in earnest? He has not asked us to be saints. He has commanded that we be witnesses. Another name for witness is martyr. He has died for us and asked the same of us, the members of His body the Church. Epiphany reminds us that it is time for both the relevant and recoil churches to allow God to manifest Himself in Christ. It is my prayer that the veil will be lifted from our eyes. We must be willing to present ourselves as living sacrifices which is our reasonable service. Only then, will the Church rediscover empowerment and purpose.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A very powerful word, my brother!

Fr. Carlos Raines