A former Lutheran pastor sharing thoughts on faith and life. Please join the conversation! I love your comments!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Church: A Garden Club Which Does Woodworking

A parable:
Once there was a gardening club.  The members loved The Garden Club so much that once a week they gathered together to do woodworking.  Amidst the hammering and sawing, someone would read from the Gardening Book.  Garden Club members loved to read the Gardening Book in order to learn more about woodworking. Sometimes they would notice the Gardening Book contained a lot about gardening and they would all nod sagely before continuing with their hammering and sawing.  
Sometimes outsiders would question why the club was called the Garden Club when really what they did was woodworking.  Then, the members would draw attention to portions of the Gardening Book which mention bird houses and fences.  How could one have such things if one did not engage in woodworking?  Furthermore, the members were quick to point out, some of them did some gardening during the rest of the week and they all liked the idea of gardening.   Occasionally a difficult member of the Gardening Club would mention the club might be more appealing to gardeners and more importantly might make the world a more beautiful place if they actually did some gardening.  The other members would then grumble about some gardeners having lousy priorities since they refused to set aside time for woodworking.  Often someone would yell out, “If we do gardening people will think we are nothing more than horticulturists!”  The hammering and sawing would quickly recommence.  And so The Garden Club remained a club centered around woodworking. 

Key to unlocking this fabulously mysterious parable:
The Garden Club=Christian Church
Gardening Book = the Bible
Woodworking=worship and right beliefs
Gardening=serving and standing with neighbors, the poor, the outcast/following Jesus

I have been reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s book, “Pastrix” and when reading what she has to say about liturgy I was reminded how powerful and meaningful worship can be.  How can I be against something which is sometimes so beautiful?  Then it dawned on me: focusing on worship almost exclusively is like eating candy and calling yourself a vegetarian or…or... or…then the above parable began to take shape.  I am not against worship.  It can be beautiful.  But it should not define followers of Jesus.

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