Saturday, February 4, 2017

"The Church of Never Do That"

The members of "The Church of Never Do That"
Never speak in worship or allow idle chit chat
We've posted "The seven last words of church" on our door:
"We've never done it that way before"

The children who wiggle are thumped on the head
"You were told to sit still" the parents all said
Since church is an exercise of will o'er desire
Motivated by images of hell's burning fire.

The purpose of worship was long ago lost
On bottom line decisions of financial cost
So the people who come all dutifully obey
The tradition of praying the same prayer each time they pray

The praying is practiced with ne'er a mistake
A stutter would be tragic for heaven's sake!
And the order of worship has never changed
Since John Calvin approved how it's arranged

The ushers tuxedoed are stationed and trained
To keep out the coffee so the carpet's unstained
The hymns were written in catacombs long ago
And sung sans enthusiasm lest it become a big show

New music or clapping is never allowed
There's plenty of room since there's never a crowd
But the pews are assigned, so stuck in a rut
Each cushion is shaped like it's member's butt

The argument seems airtight for anyone who can see:
"If it was good enough for grandpa, it's good enough for me."
When the Bible is read with the Thees and the Thous
All feign engagement with deep furrowed brows

And the preaching is done with an emphasis on sins
All remain silent with no shouts or "Amens"
New people they want to sit in the pews
To hear their dull version of the Good News

But strangers are a terror, utterly feared
Especially the one with long hair and a beard
But just such a one came every week
To find the lost hearts, his kingdom they seek

Lost hearts aplenty he found in the nave
Hibernating spiritually like bears in a cave
So Sunday after Sunday he'd head down the street
To see who he'd find and who he would meet

Though meet them is really not what he would do
For their name, heart and hurts he already knew
Some members of "The Church of Never Do That"
Wanted what he offered but their courage was flat

Too worried to look religious, too worried to look weird
So they kept their hearts shut to the guy with the beard.
A meeting was called and a motion was made
Where a political ploy was skillfully played

To change church policy to eliminate...change
Since stability is preferred to the new and the strange
The vote was unanimous, well...minus one
That long-hair bearded guy some call God's Son

Some shouted "Democracy rules! There's nothing more to do"
Isn't that Gospel? Somewhere in Matthew?
You may be a member of "The Church of Never Do That"
If you'd defend your preferences in ecclesial combat

And use words like "my church" as if were true
That you atoned and ransomed it with your blood and sinew
The long hair bearded man still comes to that church
Expecting some may begin (heaven forbid!) a spiritual search

Beyond the traditions, the hymns, and their by-law
Where the deepest of hungers and the questions still gnaw
Perhaps they will look through the stained glass scene
Of Jesus declaring the leper was now clean

Where outside the window the world buzzes by
Too busy to slow down, too frightened to cry
The empty expressions and the desperate need
From the diet of death on which they all feed

If "The Church of Never Do That" opened wide
And the people in the pews ever ventured outside
They would find something amazing, too powerful to contain
The message so simple, so pure and so plain

The life and the blessing, the Good News and grace
The people inside forgot in their unchanging place
God never, no never said "Thou shalt not Change"
Nor never has God ever left us estranged

Except when we grip tightly our fear and our pride
Strangling and suffocating, our trust slowly died
Our concrete and mortar so carefully maintained
Our coffers and endowments are slowly being drained

To paint and repair, replace and update
We fret and we fight as we carry the freight
Of deception in believing that we're faithful and true
As we honor our ancestors from 1802.

The buildings we build are not the Church of the One
The church is the people who work till the work is all done
Telling each person regardless of race,
No matter their language or color of face

Showing them kindness and lifting them up
Sharing the bread and offering the cup
So change will happen no matter the rules
For doing the same thing forever is only for fools

Come be part of "The Church of Never the Same"
For it’s filled with the people given a new name
They're grateful and giddy and filled with good news
Going beyond the doors, stained glass and the pews.

They find its a mystery as they let go
When they love their neighbor they're filled with a glow
When the give up their treasures they are blessed and renewed
Something that never happens when we fight and we feud.

And the long-hair bearded man looks on with a smile
As cheeks are turned twice and we go the extra mile
For no one is judged, since that's losing the game
Only loved by the Church of Never the Same

© 2017 Stephen Carl

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