Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Couch Potato for Jesus???

Ephesians 4:1-6
Rev. Debra Jene Collum
Chatfield UMC
August 2, 2015


On one of the slides that flashes before us during the announcements are the words: Chatfield UMC, we are on the move. Or something like that. I didn’t put up that slide. It has been in the announcement presentation from before my time. 4 plus years.

I have thought I should change it. I don’t exactly know why it is there or what the real meaning of the slide is about.

But lately I have thought, we are living into that slide. We are on the move. If what is meant by ‘on the move’ means that we are doing church. We are being church. We are moving into a new way of being church. We are not standing still, resting on our past. We are moving into a future. Then I think that slide can stay.

At each administrative council meeting we ask ourselves some questions: What do we exist for? What is God doing among us? Would the church be missed in this community if we closed its doors?

It is not enough, in my mind, to simply be a church. We are called to do the work of God in the world as the church of Jesus the Christ.
That is what I always think of when I think of the church as the body of Christ. A living breathing, growing being.
We are moving, active.

How awful if the church of Jesus Christ became a couch potato. Watching life from the comfort of a couch. Switching channels when something didn’t please. Immersed in mindless time wasting. Influenced by the market rather than the Spirit.
Eating junk food instead of the living bread.
Lulled into a sense of comfort and well being

Can you see it, the church as a blob in front of a cosmic TV?
Now push the metaphor even further. Can you imagine Jesus as a couch potato?
Can you imagine Jesus as a couch potato?

That is almost scandalous. I should duck for cover.

But we are the body of Christ in the world. Do we sometimes look more like a couch potato than the living body of Christ?

On our church brochure, which I have passed out to you, we ask the question “What if church were a verb”. Would you come?

As I watch the current trends toward non church participation in all age groups in America and the world, that is the question. Would you come and if not, why don’t you come?

And I truly believe the answer is: Because the body of Christ is no longer a verb. Because the church has become less and less like the active body of Christ and more and more like a couch potato.

You know the Methodist church used to be the church that people would expect to do the work of God in the world.

When a people were being sold as slaves it was our founded, John Wesley, who spoke out against the in-humanity of slavery and the worth of the African people. Wesley also spoke out against child labor, unfair labor practices for mineworkers and the Anglican Church’s silence in the face of rising poverty and hardship in England. Historians say that it was John Wesley who saved England from a slide into a new dark age.

When Methodism came to America it came as an active engaged body of Christ. Here in America: think of all the hospitals with the word “Methodist” in their name. There are at least three in MN alone. A google search will turn up Methodist hospitals all over North America. While they are no longer affiliated with the church, the roots of their compassion for the sick and suffering still are reflected in their mission and vision statements.
When drunkenness became an economic scourge for women and children, when child labor practices kept children from school, when women were denied the right to vote, when African Americans were being persecuted and kept in slavery it was Methodist Women who spoke out and helped to change the systems of abuse and oppression. [1]

Our own church and society building in Washington DC is older than the Supreme Court building less than a block away.
In the 60’s it housed the first DC office of Martin Luther King Jr. In the past we have influenced public policy on behalf of the voiceless at the Capitol of the US and world wide.

There are still more Methodist Churches in America than there are Post Offices. Because in the beginning the Methodist Church moved. Grew. Breathed God’s life into new communities.

But people are worried that the body of Christ is dying.
How could a body of Christ, a resurrected, life giving, new birth body die? I don’t think it can, not really.
I am not worried that the body of Christ might die.
But I do worry that the body of Christ will become a couch potato. Focused only on it’s own concerns, listening only to the news that pleases it, laughing at inane and even offensive remarks made at the expense of others. Eating snack food instead of the living bread of Christ, drinking mind numbing beverages instead of the life giving forgiveness of the cup of Grace.

We will keep asking the question: Would we be missed if we were gone? Are we moving and active as the body of Christ right here in Chatfield? And I hope you will ask the question: How can I be part of the movement? 


[1] http://www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/about/history/timeline

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