I recently finished last years devotional (Devotions for Woman: Becoming a Woman of Peace, by Ann Spangler).
The days after finishing a devotional I’ve enjoyed, I never really know what to do with my quiet time…besides talk to God, but sometimes I need direction.
So I’ve decided to start reading Isaiah, I won’t say this month or a verse a day or anything, I’d rather take my time and mull it over and allow room for life to get in the way as it frequently does, or skim the parts that don’t stir me.
Today however, there are thoughts to mull:
“What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the Lord. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?
Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting— they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings.
I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!
When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.
Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways.
Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”
I can’t help but see the obvious similarities between today’s churches and the churches being spoken of so long ago.
Churches (in middle class white suburbia) are getting bigger and bigger’ it’s actually a goal of many churches that I’ve attended.
Yes, they’re founded in Godly beliefs and have good intentions…but with so much emphasis on graphic design and atmosphere and organic coffee and flashy front stages, I can’t help but feel it’s not what God has in mind. That it’s not the best use of resources – despite the delicious flavors of Sunday morning….
And ok, some outreach is done, and come Christmas Eve and Easter you’ll invite others in for your “new moon festivals and annual celebrations.”
But what if we, churches, stopped groping for people to come in and feel cozy…and we simply went out.
What if celebrating Jesus and his life didn’t look like sitting in a pew or an aesthetically pleasing sound proof auditorium with its modern photography and band.
What if it looked like non-organic coffee on a wet dirty sidewalk with a stranger.
No message. No agenda. Just conversation rooted in compassion.
Some kindness given freely. I can’t help thinking, just maybe it’s what Jesus would do.
At least some of the time!