By: Brittany Fiscus-van Rossum
2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10
Reflection—v. 9 ‘…as dying, and see—we are alive.’
Are you like me in that when you hear the phrase ‘the church is dying,’ your stomach churns? Does it make you defensive for the institution that you love and the life you still see there within it? While I do hate this sobering diagnosis of my lifelong partner, I cannot ignore the reek of death issuing from those old stone buildings I still adore. Like a weary chaplain, I have sat beside my clergy and lay friends alike, mourning old drafty buildings too large to heat, dwindling congregations too small to meet—throwing our hands in the air as we say, ‘The money’s just not there,’ while outside our locked doors are the knocking poor, asking for something to eat. I will not dress it up in kinder, more placating words. So long as the church invests in its property over the poor, we will keep dealing in death. So long as our systems are set up to turn ministry into a career-building venture, then smaller congregations and the poorest among us will go without. But there is life still in these drying bones, if we have the courage to resurrect them. If I am being brutally honest, my call to ministry has not been as glamorous as I may have imagined. At Mercy, our salaries are laughable (or non-existent). There is no endowment, no health insurance, and we’ve never even had a building to lose. But when I enter our ever-open rented doors, I find our small space teeming with vibrant life. I find a congregation that is growing, and flourishing, and supporting one another—creating, dreaming, and hungry for the Word and for the meal we will share together. See, we are alive! So my question for the church that I so deeply love is this: will we have the courage to walk through death to new places, new forms of ministry, and new risks where life abounds?
Prayer Guide us, O Holy One, to the places where life abounds.