Tuesday, February 18, 2020
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I am divorced. Now what?

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It hurts when things don’t go according to plan. Think back to a time in your life when you believed everything was possible. You were convinced your cape and mask was all you needed to leap from the roof. A toy crown on your head was all you needed to feel like a princess; ready and waiting for your prince charming to sweep you off your feet. It was a happy time. No one could have convinced you these things were not possible. And then life happens.

Not only did you not become an astronaut but you also went through a painful divorce – a pain you never anticipated or prepared for. Humans are creatures of certainty. We like it when we can map things out in our head and those things happen as we planned. We don’t like disappointment. No matter how many times we hear that it is a part of life and can actually make us better; we never make room for it.

Divorce is one of the toughest disappointments to bear. In a sense, it’s like a death – a form of loss. Something that began promising happiness, fails to deliver. People ask you questions – what happened?, who’s to blame?- this only heightens the pain of the entire situation.

There are times when divorce is the result of specific, definable circumstances such as abuse or infidelity. Most times, however, the answers are not as clear. Any attempt to find them serve no purpose at all except to make everyone involved feel worse.

Another unavoidable consequence of divorce is the strong condemnation it carries within religious circles. Who can escape the judging eyes and conspiracy theories of those looking from the outside. ‘They weren’t strong enough. Why can’t they stick it out like the older generation?’ 

The Christian community has, unfortunately, done very well at criminalizing people who chose divorce. They are no longer fit to be ‘good examples’ for young people and are ceremoniously asked to step down from ‘ministry’. The optics of divorce are not what a lot of churches are willing to handle.

If you have experienced or are currently going through a divorce, the most important thing to recognize is that there is still hope. I am talking here about hope for life and a better future. Regardless of what people may say, God loves you. You were never supposed to live your life to please people but rather to please your father in heaven. I am yet to meet a father who wants their child to live in misery.

There’s a lot that could still be said here but one scripture makes clear how great God’s love is; a fitting one with which to end this post: “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:31-39). The word ‘nothing’ means just that – nothing, including divorce. 

To be clear, this isn’t an attempt to oversimplify a tough and life-altering experience. There’s much more to the process of rebuilding one’s life than the quoting of a Bible verse. So, think of this passage of scripture, not as a quick-fix or ‘positive confession’, but as a single building block among many others, in the journey of starting again. 

Pray for SA Elections 2019

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Tomorrow, South Africans from all walks of life will line up at polling stations to vote for the men and women they want to see lead them over the next few years.

Anyone who knows the history of South Africa knows that it’s a nation with a difficult past and with many complex challenges still to overcome. The country’s economy is a matter of concern. On one hand, the private sector is keeping a close eye on things to see if the environment is a profitable one for investment. On the other, there is a restlessness amongst formerly oppressed communities who demand swifter and more decisive change. Sadly, that change is not always forthcoming in a nation where scandal after scandal is unearthed, exposing the corrupt dealings of the very people that were meant to make life better for so many.

After the fall of the apartheid era, it felt like a new dawn had come for South Africa. The feeling in the air was that we’d seen the birth of a shining light – the Rainbow Nation, a place of hope for all who live in it. The events of the past few years, however – the rise in violent crime, joblessness and poverty, the scourge of HIV and AIDS, against the backdrop of serious leadership failure – have all contributed to many questioning what the future holds for South Africa. Opposition party leaders exclaim boldly from podiums, making the claim that their policies can make things better. “Vote for me,” they say, “and I’ll make sure that all your troubles will go away”. Could it be, though, that it’s not as simple as all that?

South Africa’s election day provides a very timely opportunity for deep reflection. Are the things we see happening around us unique to the nation, or are they merely a snapshot of the overall human condition? As humans, we are capable of scaling great heights and developing amazing technologies. When we apply our minds, we can achieve astounding feats. But sometimes we need to realise that many of our problems are just a reflection of the state our hearts. All people – even the most charming of politicians – have issues that need to be resolved at a level deeper than election manifestos and promises. There’s no question that we must pray and ask God for peace and a trouble-free voting and counting process. It’s also important that we pause to remember that God has made certain promises too and perhaps we should internalize the implications of those promises on our individual lives.

Through His son Jesus Christ, God extends His hand to humanity to make the promise of helping us deal with the inner struggles we face at the soul level. It’s no quick fix, mind you. Jesus went as far as to guarantee that we would face all kinds of troubles in this world. Yet, despite the trouble, He offers life and hope. That hope is not dependent upon who’s in power or what policies have been implemented or not. It’s a relationship with Him that shapes us and enables us to navigate life, with all its hurts, troubles and disappointments. Choosing Christ as a saviour is a choice, much like an election. Yet, its implications are far greater. Leaders and systems may come and go but God promises that His love for us remains forever.

If you don’t have a relationship with God and want to know how you can explore one, chat to us below. Even if you have questions and want to engage with us on matters of faith, we encourage you to connect with us.

The Meaning of Life

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We live in a very exciting time of innovation and creativity. For the digitally knowledgeable among us, we know this time as the Information Age. Unlike in ages past where, to find out about something important, you had to leave home and visit your local library or museum, nowadays things are very different. To use a well-used phrase, all the information we could ever need is available ‘right at our fingertips’. By merely pulling out a device from your pocket and tapping a screen, you can find out anything you want to. To be uninformed in this day and age, you literally must tell yourself, “I want to be uninformed”. Of course, that’s not quite accurate as we must factor in access to information, which is a huge thing to consider in many parts of the world. Still, my exaggerated statement is to make the point that we live in a time where information is more readily available than it has ever been.

Yet, for all the information and tools for accessing that information that this current generation prides itself on, it never ceases to amaze how much people are searching for meaning, truth and intimacy. Take for example, the rise of social media. These platforms make a huge promise – to connect us in ways in which we’ve never been able to connect before. In these digital times, we thrive on two key words: connecting and sharing. In a matter of split-seconds, I can become friends with a person halfway across the globe and then share with that individual whatever I choose to. By their very definitions, the words ‘connect’ and share’ imply a certain level of intimacy. When we talk about connecting, it goes beneath what’s on the surface and travels into the realm of the soul. One almost imagines something unbreakable and lasting. Sharing is a giving of one’s deeper self, allowing another to see what would not easily be seen. I have no facts to prove this but I am pretty convinced that, deep in the boardrooms of the now-massive corporations where the seeds of social media were sown, whoever chose to bring words like ‘friend’, ‘connect’ and ‘share’ into the domain of social media knew very well that those words are linked to a deep human yearning for something profound. On one hand, social media has created opportunities for us to form relationships in ways that are easier than we could before. However, on the other hand, these platforms have watered down concepts that should carry far more weight than they do now. No amount of Google searches and no number of Facebook friends can fill the space that we need filled by something deeper in our lives.

No matter the speed or level of our advancement as a species, human beings have always searched for meaning in our pursuits. One of those pursuits is the desire for acceptance and love in our human relationships. Though we try to mask it or underplay it, deep down we know that life is so much better and so much more meaningful when we live it with a sense that we are truly connected to others, and to something greater. Even the wealthiest of men and women come to a point in their journeys where they realise that there is only so much that an individual can do with money in a lifetime. This may explain why many top-flight executives and business achievers become philanthropists at some point in their careers.  This may be their way of saying “I’m not here to just be a money-making machine. I have worked so that humanity may share in what I’ve been able to achieve”.

What it all comes down to, then, is relationship. We can’t deny that have a deep, innate desire to truly connect and share. It’s in these things that we find meaning. The abundance of information alone cannot sustain us. What we know, on its own, can’t take us very far unless it’s outworked in meaningful, trusting relationship. It’s for this very reason that much of what we know about Jesus Christ revolves around relationship. He isn’t a distant saviour. As much as He wants us to know what He has done for humanity, He desires even more that we know it in the context of a relationship with Him. His invitation is for us to truly connect with him and share, in a real way, every aspect of our lives with Him.

A meaningful relationship with Christ isn’t about religion, church preference or just being a good person. It’s about knowing His love and direction in a very personal way. If this is something you have questions and want to know more about, please get in touch with us.

Ethiopian Airlines Crash – A Moment To Pray

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Most globally-focused news networks are, at this time, reporting a story about a tragic plane crash in Ethiopia.

An Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8, flight ET302, left Addis Ababa, Ethiopia headed for Nairobi, Kenya and never made it to its planned destination. Six minutes into the flight, air traffic control lost all contact with the plane, which went on to crash near the town of Bishoftu, 62 kilometres from Addis.

It has already been reported and confirmed that all 157 people aboard the flight – passengers and crew – lost their lives.

What words could ever be adequate in a time of deep loss and pain like this? No politician or airline official could do anything at all to give back what has been lost. At a time like this, it’s worth remembering the lasting power of prayer and how privileged we all are to be able to pray in life’s tough seasons. Prayer is a way in which we can stand in support of the bereaved and ask God to be with them at a difficult time.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says this: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

This should be our prayer at this time:

  • That those who have suffered from this tragedy would be strong and know God’s love in this season of pain
  • That those who are not affected directly would be compassionate enough to contribute physically (if they can) and to pray for others
  • That God would grant wisdom to those taking charge of the investigation and that there would be a peaceful resolution to a tumultuous situation

Today we pray for God’s peace to reign in Ethiopia and in Kenya. We pray that every single nation that has lost a citizen in this crash would find peace. We also pray that whatever issue exists with the aircraft at the centre of this story would be identified and fixed so that there may be no further loss of life. Please pray with us, and leave your comment of support on this post…

As we witness the developing of this story, we fully recognize that there are questions from all side. Pain is a real experience for many right now. We pray that the hurting would know the true and lasting peace that comes from knowing Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. If you are filled with questions about life and faith and want to chat about them, please feel free to message our team!

Does God Love Everyone?

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There is so much suffering in the world. Wherever you turn, you don’t have to look far to see the turmoil and despair in people’s lives. It could even be that turmoil and despair are a very real part of your experience right now and you don’t quite know what to do. The struggles and challenges of human life are way too many to list. They range from the emotional, like depression and rejection, to the physical, like joblessness and violence. We all go through tough times at one point or another. For some, sadly, suffering even seems to be a way of life, but when the chips are down and things are at their worst, many times we turn to God.

One of the questions that often comes up in this world of inequality, intolerance and division is: does God love everyone? Does God show favoritism to one group of people and turn His back on another? It’s a valid question, quite similar to one posed in a recent post we did on the issue of Africanness and the perception of it. There seems to be a belief that there are certain groups favored or loved more than others.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I am not claiming to understand God or speak on His behalf. However, there are certain things in daily life that should potentially illuminate certain principles to us. After all, it’s science that tells us that all truth is parallel. Let’s use the example of a human father. For the purposes of what we’re talking about here, let’s say that this father has four children. These kids are all individuals and probably have very different personalities and character traits. Being human, they will make mistakes and fumble. They will lose their way at times and say things that shouldn’t be said from time to time. One of the four may even be something of a rebel and upset his father deeply. He may receive the occasional beating and be disciplined a little more harshly than the others. Does this imply that he is loved any less? No. Do the differences between the kids mean any of them is loved more than the others? It shouldn’t be so. A good father’s love is unconditional and equal and, though the expression of that love may not seem equal, his level of love should be.

If we are to look at God as a father, I believe with everything in me – based on the Bible – that He loves everyone. It actually says in the Bible that God loved the world (I assume that means all of us who live in it) that He gave His son for its redemption. This was done as a token and an act of love. So many people often ask the question, “if God loves me, why does all this negative stuff keep happening to me?” Well, just as love can be given, it can be either received or rejected. A lot of us human beings reject God’s love, knowingly or unknowingly. He may love us but loathe some of the things we do. Bringing my own reality into the mix, I am the father of a 3 year-old daughter. I set certain rules for my daughter to follow around the house. I don’t do it to make her life miserable but to protect and guide her. The hard reality is that, if I tell her not to climb the table but she chooses to do so anyway, if she falls and breaks her leg, even the deep love I have for her can’t protect her. Life works on a set of inviolable principles.

If we are to be honest, many of us – professors, politicians, writers, musicians, lawyers, accountants – behave like spoilt, irresponsible children. We climb tables and play on them but then cry foul against God when we slip and fall to the hard floor. God’s love is for all of us but at times that love requires us to be obedient and follow certain rules, even when it goes against what we’d prefer to do. Why? Because we have to have faith that He knows what’s best for us. Having said, I have to be quick to admit that not all the ills that befall us are our fault or can be oversimplified the way I have done here but it’s at least something to think about.

You may come across this post and reflect on your life, suddenly realizing that you’ve been bitter against God and claiming He doesn’t love you, yet your hands aren’t entirely clean. You may even, without knowing it, have rejected His love. Even the best of human relationships go through difficult patches and moments that can’t be easily explained. The best way to keep that relationship alive is to work at it, even when it’s hard. But the important thing is to stick around. If the concept of a relationship with God is something that doesn’t seem to make any sense to you, why don’t you click on the banner below. We’d love to share our experience with you.

What’s your take on this? Do you believe God loves everyone or has He selected a special few to show his compassion? We’d love to hear from you.

I Never Expected It

Vines – short, sometimes looped videos of 10 seconds or less in length – are all the rage in the world of social media and online sharing right now and, in Africa, we have our share of amazing ones. When Nigerian track athlete Ejowvokoghene Divine Odururu did a post-race interview with a British journalist, I don’t think he had any idea what he was getting himself into. Little did he know that he would be granting us one of our most popular vines ever. Now, why athletes are interviewed and asked so many questions immediately after a race is beyond me but, after watching Odururu express himself, I think I can live with more of this kind of thing.

It’s Odururu’s response to the question of his emotions after the semi-final race that has made him an African video hottie. He answers with the humble but equally dramatic words, “… I never expected it [or is that ‘experred it’], but God gave it to me”. Indeed, not only did God give Odururu the victory on this day but, along with that package, came internet fame and the status of becoming an overnight sensation. There is more to giggle about and enjoy in the video and it does make for fascinating viewing. One classic line to look out for is Odururu’s personal preview of the final, “The final will be a deadly day… One of us is going to die on the line because I’m ready to run it to the last because I have a black man’s blood in me and African people, we’re born great…”

Well, here’s to Divine Odururu for giving Africa one of its most animated and fun sports interviews ever. If you ask me what I think  of what I felt when I first watched this video, these would be my words to you: I never expected it, but God gave it to me!

Give us a shout below and tell us what you think of the video. If you know any other awesome viral vids from around Africa, get in touch with us on chat@1africa.tv

God Never Said Goodbye

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It’s always hard to say goodbye, especially to those we love and hold dear. When close people leave us, it’s a big deal and, depending on how we process things, it may take a while for us to get over it. It goes without saying that the death of a loved one is likely the most painful type of goodbye there is. A person we’ve become accustomed to having around is no longer there and we will not see them again in this life. That’s a very difficult thing to process and some people just cannot get over the grief.

There are many reasons why the word goodbye may need to be said. It might be that a relationship is no longer pleasant and needs to be ended. It might be because new things have come, the old needing to be let go and the new needing to be embraced. Sometimes, it’s a slow fade that comes with no explanation at all and just happens. Nobody is willing to fight hard enough so, without a word, things end.

All in all, unless someone has really traumatized us and been a real pain, goodbyes are actually sad moments. The word itself has a finality to it that makes us sad inside. Which is why this post, as the title simply puts it, is about God. God never said goodbye and, though others may give up on us and walk away from us, He will never do that. Where’s the proof? The following is a list of His promises to never leave those who believe in Him:

  1. Deuteronomy 31:6, Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; “He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  2. Deuteronomy 31:8, The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
  3. Joshua 1:5, No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  4. 1Kings 8:57, “May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may He never leave us nor forsake us.”
  5. 1 Chronicles 28:20, David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.”
  6. Psalms 37:28, For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. “They will be protected forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off;”
  7. Psalms 94:14 “For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.”
  8. Isaiah 41:17 “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.”
  9. Isaiah 42:16 “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”
  10. Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Whatever you are going through, take courage in knowing that you have someone who will never be left alone by God. This may encourage you, particularly if you suffered from feelings of abandonment in the past. If you’d like to know about how to connect with God and have questions about faith, please click on the banner below.

Africa’s Top Coffee Shops

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United States based coffee giant, Starbucks Coffee is set to open its first branch in sub-Saharan Africa (in South Africa) next year, marking a significant moment for the African coffee market. This is a development which illuminates the extent to which global brands have taken interest in the continent’s growing middle class population.

With over 22,000 outlets across the globe, this deal with management group Taste Holdings will place the coffee chain in competition with existing local vendors. Starbucks Executive, Kris Engskov confirmed this stating that the coffee market in Africa is vibrant and growing fast. “[…] we want to be part of that growth.”

Africa might not be flooded with cafés and coffee shops, but coffee has long been a beverage of choice on the continent, here are some of the leading coffee shops which stand out.

Deluxe Coffeeworks – Gardens, Cape Town

Renowned for its impressive cappuccino art, Deluxe Coffeeworks has been rated as one of the best cafés in the world. It is the ultimate location where you can find interesting people, good music and great coffee. The best part of your experience begins with their amazingly low priced beverages. Starting from R12 a cup, it is one of the best deals for good coffee in Cape Town.

Café Neo, Nigeria

This remarkable coffee shop is situated in Nigeria’s commercial hub, Lagos. Ngozi Dozie and his brother Chijoke started this chain to give Lagos coffee lovers access to their favorite brews. Their decision to target mostly high end customers by situating the café on Victoria Island may give these brothers an opportunity to capture the African market, one city at a time.

Café du Livre, Marrakech

A coffee shop, restaurant and bookshop, Café du Livre reaches out to both students and literary enthusiasts as customers. It is a unique space which provides a quiet place to read while enjoying a relatively modest buzz of a traditional café. It has an exciting menu and as such makes a great stop for breakfast, during which you can also work using their free WIFI access. The mood lightens towards the end of the day with good wine served in the evening.

Tomoca Coffee shop, Ethiopia

Alongside a number of tourist attractions and medieval cities, Ethiopia also offers rich coffee. There are many cafés scattered around Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city. Tomoca is one of the best of many local spots where you can find a relaxed environment to enjoy your coffee while lounging. This shop was established in 1953 and since then has continued to keep customers happy. For the tourist in Ethiopia, packaged coffee beans sold at Tomoca make good souvenirs.

Cuppa Cappuccino, Accra

Josie’s Cuppa Cappuccino located within Airport Residential, Accra is one of the best options for nice coffee and food in the city. It is a unique destination with a beautiful outdoor environment where you can enjoy nature at its best. There is something for everyone who visits the restaurant and café — from speciality coffee to fresh foods and fruit smoothies. With a mouth-watering menu and customer friendly staff, you need not worry about having a good time.

 

This post on Africa’s top coffee shops originally appears on Ventures Africa.

Everything You Need Is Around You

Some of the best learning experiences in life come from just sitting quietly and observing. We often think that education has to be formal – in a classroom or lecture theater, and that the words of wisdom need to come from some big motivational guru, author or highly learned professor. But sometimes, the real nuggets come when you are seeming to pass time, either on a bus or a long haul flight, and you take the time to just listen to complete strangers. Something amazing happens when you stop being consumed by the sound of your own voice or the superiority of your own ideas and thoughts and you just listen. Check out this nugget of a video.

 

 

We all have things we’re aspiring to and hoping for in life. Many of us have big dreams and want to scale the highest heights that can be attained. One thing I’ve found, when I’ve been deliberate about focusing on it, is that my answers are not too far away from me and out of reach. If I can learn to tap into the wisdom and experiences of others and stop trying to go it alone and reinvent the wheel, I may just get to where I’m going faster and less painfully. You see, as people, though we are vastly different in many ways, there are things that bind us together. We share certain aspirations, dreams, fears and questions. I’ve heard some people call this ‘the human experience’. Many times, when we go through difficulties or when we have particular questions burning inside of us, we are prone to thinking that we are the only ones who have gone through or are currently going through whatever it is. But all around us, we have a vast planet of fellow humans among whom there may be one person or a few people somewhere who have experienced the very thing we need help with.

What then stops us from reaching out to others and asking the questions we need to ask in order to propel us? It could be fear or uncertainty. Sometimes, it’s something far worse: pride. That pride may not be apparent but it lurks and all it will ever achieve is one of two things – either it will completely stop us from attaining our dreams or, if not that, it will delay us getting to our destination by months, years or even decades. That’s tragic.

Don’t be so proud as to believe that you are going through things that are new to humanity. Nothing is new under the sun. Everything you need is around you. The quicker you discover that for yourself, the better and the more time and energy it will save you. The answers you need aren’t far away if you choose to open up your senses and listen. Mind you, listening can take many forms. You needn’t make the same mistakes that have been made before or take ages achieving things that took long to achieve in the past.

As you reflect on your life,  the most important thing you can know is that God loves you immeasurably. Those who have called on Him in the past, though they have not always understood His ways, have come to know that He is faithful. If you’d like to know more about pursuing a relationship with Him, please click on the banner below.

 

Dear Church (Part 2)

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As part of our drive to bring you the best content out there, we  often come across very interesting and thought-provoking pieces from the minds of others. Today, we feature the second and last part of an article called ‘Dear Church’ by Jonathan Aigner, written as an open letter to the church from the generation frequently referred to as the millennials. We’d love to hear your comments, views and opinions about the things expressed by the author.

Here are a few things that might just work with some of us. They may seem crazy. They may contradict everything you’ve heard. But, as one of these millennials, this is what would work for me, and for a lot of the people I know who have left.

Don’t expect a “worship style” to do your dirty work. Contemporary worship hasn’t worked. The longer we extend the life of this failed experiment, the more we see the results.

In my experience, contemporary worship brings in three groups. Baby boomers who are still stuck in their rebellion against the establishment, parents who mistakenly think that contemporary worship is the only way for their kids to connect to the church, and a small percentage of young adults who’ve never left and who never knew anything other than contemporary worship.

In modeling worship after commercial entertainment, you’ve compromised your identity, and we’re still not coming back.

And even if we did, would there be any church left? Would there be anything beyond the frills, the lights, the performance, the affected vocals? Would we still see a cross? Would we still find our place among the saints who have come before? Would we find reminders of our life-long need of grace?

Or would we have been hooked by something altogether different? Would we merely find your answer key for the great mystery of faith?

Don’t give us entertainment, give us liturgy. We don’t want to be entertained in church, and frankly, the church’s attempt at entertainment is pathetic. Enough with the theatrics. Enough with the lights, the visuals, the booming audio, the fog machine, the giveaway gimmicks, the whole production. Follow that simple yet profound formula that’s worked for the entire history of the church. Entrance, proclamation, thanksgiving, sending out. Gathering, preaching, breaking bread, going forth in service. Give us a script to follow, give us songs to sing, give us the tradition of the church, give us Holy Scripture to read. Give us sacraments, not life groups, to grow and strengthen us.

Week after week, season after season, year after year, let us participate in the drama of the gospel. It’s not supposed to be fun. It’s not supposed to produce intense emotional response. It’s a microcosmic, disciplined, anticipatory remembrance of who we were, who we are, and who we are to be. We need this. We need these heartfelt rituals in our lives to keep us returning to the fount of grace, to mark our way back home.

Be yourself, and you just might shake us out of our technology-induced, entertainment-craving slumber. Keep giving us Jesusy versions of mainstream entertainment, and there’s no hope. You can’t compete. You’ll lose every time.

Don’t target us. In doing so, you’ve marketed and advertised yourself into oblivion. We’re left with homogeneous congregations of approximately the same ages and backgrounds who are just there for what they can get out of the church. No wonder we’ve left. Just be the church. Be yourself. Use your regular old liturgy. Offer your regular old sacraments. Sing your regular old songs. Cast a wide net, and let whosoever will come. Trust me, we’re more likely to show up when we don’t feel like fish snapping up the bait.

Be inclusive. Tear down silos. Save us from ourselves. We don’t need more youth group lock-ins, more Sunday School options for each age group, more senior adult outings on beekeeping and genealogy. We need more of each other. We need to look into the faces of old and young, rich and poor, of different colors, races, and ethnic backgrounds, so we can learn to see Jesus in faces that don’t look like us. So we can remember that the kingdom is bigger than our safe, suburban bubble. That’s right, we need community, not bound together by age or economic status or skin color, but wrought with the hammering of nails on a wooden cross.

Our internet connectivity is just fine. The rest of our lives is a different story. We are hopelessly disconnected. Church, you can be a powerful remedy if you stop posing as a Fortune 500 company scheming to sell a product.

Welcome the toughest, deepest, grittiest, most desperate, most shocking questions.  We have lots of questions. More and more, what we see in the world doesn’t jive with what we grew up hearing from the pulpit. You have done more damage by requiring politeness, by refusing to engage, by brusquely rebuking honesty and vulnerability. You’re better than that, church. At least you should be. You should be a safe place for struggling, grappling, doubting.

Allow us to be real with each other, to avoid the temptation to gloss over the crap going on around us with easy, tidy, Jesusy clichés‘. You’ve always taught us how the world is black and white, just like The Andy Griffith Show and I Love Lucy. But, and excuse us for noticing, the world is mostly gray, gray like Ricky Ricardo’s dinner jacket and Barney Fife’s nightstick. Let’s embrace that grayness together.

So no more three points and a take home. No more self-help. No more marriage and parenting advice. No more anger management pointers. We don’t need you to be our therapist, we need you to be our church. We need you to grapple with us, to push back. We need you to show us how to be the hands and feet of Christ, to struggle with us in making it more on earth as it is in heaven.

It’s not too late, church, but your tactics aren’t working.

It’s time for a new strategy.

It’s time to be uncool. To be radical. To be different.

It’s time to be yourself.

 

Source: patheos.com

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