Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Bride of Christ

They called the pastor to set up a meeting with the intent of asking him to baptize their newborn son.  They were not members of the parish but his parents were members of a sister parish so he thought the pastor would be amiable to their request.  The pastor inquired of the two parents regarding their faith and they assured him that they were Christians and had every intention of attending the parish in the future.  The vows taken at the baptismal service were reviewed and a date for the baptism was set.  Extended family was invited and the baptism was fit within a Holy Communion service with all going smoothly until toward the end of the service, before the last hymn, a grandfather of the newly baptized child had a heart attack collapsing in his pew.  An ambulance was called while nurses in the congregation attended to the man.  He survived the heart attack but it created quite a stir in the congregation as it was the first time a service ended abruptly.  Oh, and they never saw the family again.

The Church both locally and universally is the bride of Christ.  She is to be preparing for her groom by walking in the good works God has prepared for her.  She is to be beautiful as she basks in the love of her groom.  But there are those within the Church who will use and even abuse the bride of Christ.  People use her to relieve guilt they have for their sins.  They do this by attending church services and following the liturgy of the Church while never engaging other members or submitting to its leadership.  They use the Church by asking it to sanction their big events in life such as marriages, baptisms, and funerals for loved ones without offering any service to the church or a regular tithe.  People use the Church when it fits into their schedules and when it offers what they like in music and programs, especially youth programs while never sacrificially giving of their time and attention to what the parish is preaching and teaching.

Professing Christians also abuse the Church.  They abuse her by not giving their tithes and offerings and thus not providing for the basic needs of the local parish.  They abuse her by speaking poorly about parish leadership and being critical about decisions made by its vestry.  They abuse the bride of Christ by neglecting her need to love and be loved.

If you have ever used or abused the Church, repent.  A parish is there for you to serve not to be served.  It is there is for you to give to not be given to.  It is there for you to submit to not to submit to you.  Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand for Jesus is coming for his bride.