An Act of Consideration: #letters2afuturechurch from Suanne
We've decided to celebrate April Fool's Month by trying our hand at writing Scripture, in the spirit of John's letters to seven churches in the book of Revelation and the recently released Letters to a Future Church. Feel free to respond and retweet (use the hashtag #letters2afuturechurch).
In the Introduction to Letters of a Future Church, Andy Crouch observes that
a letter, it seems to me, requires one crucial quality that few electronic messages attain: an old-fashioned word, consideration. Writing a letter is an act of considering. Letters require pausing, contemplating, stopping whatever else we are doing and making ourselves available to consider . . .
Pausing. Contemplating. Stopping.
Not the kind of thoughtful reflection most of us multi-tasking Americans are known for, but without which matters worthy of significant consideration--like the future of the church--simply pass us by.
In case you haven't been following along, in Letters to a Future Church, editor Chris Lewis and his friends pose a simple yet significant question: If you had one thing to say to the church, what would it be? We here at Strangely Dim are tipping our hand at actually answering it.
At first, the best I could come up with was this:
Writing a letter to you seems awkward. And weird.
But when I took Andy's words into consideration, I was surprised where my musings took me.
Stick with me here for just a moment. Back up twenty years to a high school gym. I was swapping sweat with a handful of girls whose skin color was virtually nonexistent in my small rural community when I was accused of spitting out a racial slur (which I didn't say) and was temporarily ejected from the game. My coach (who happened to be my dad) came to my defense; he knew that the accusation was completely out of character with who I actually was. While the incident was ultimately resolved, I was left with the sting of being falsely accused, reminding me in a small way (a very small way) of the pain Jesus endured when he "was killed even though he hadn't harmed anyone" (Isaiah 53:9 NIRV). It's the same prick I feel when people hurl insults at the church.
And so, my mind fresh off this consideration, my letter would start something like this:
Sometimes I wonder how it must feel to be you. I understand that you, like all of us, have your limitations. But the venom with which labels get plastered on your doors--hypocritical, judgmental, homophobic, sexist, racist, irrelevant--is, I think, sadly unfair. When I consider the authority with which your own Father commissioned you and yet the criticism you endure, I grieve. For these accusations are a reflection of neither who I've understood you to be or of what the Bible itself declares you to be.
While I admit that my perspective has its own limitations, I still find myself marveling at your beauty.
I've watched firsthand as you've adopted orphans, built schools and emptied out your pockets to help those in need. I've cheered you on as you've pushed yourself twenty-six excruciating miles so children you've never met could have clean water. I have cried over your commitment to rescuing the oppressed. I have stood in awe as you've rebuilt communities destroyed by catastrophe and served as a haven for those with nowhere else to go. I have admired how you've abandoned your own comforts to live in gun-riddled neighborhoods, war-infested countries and culture-shocking villages all in the name of love. I have sighed with relief as you've rocked my sleepless babies, overflowed with gratitude as you've brought food to my door, felt your companionship as I've walked through painful loneliness, and wept with indebtedness as you've extended to me the hand of God's amazing grace.
I believe a day is coming when your goodness and grace will overshadow whatever imperfections you may bear. A day when those who know you best will stand up and declare you for who you are: a beautiful picture of redemption and hope for a broken and hurting world, the true reflection of who your Father created you to be.
Alas, there's always more to say, but for today, that will have to be enough.
Posted by Suanne Camfield
at April 18, 2012 10:53 AM