Challenging, provocative thoughts written with much love about the state of many Lutheran churches in the Philippines (and Australia?) by Analiza Garcia, youth leader, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines
Regarding the church, I mean especially the Lutheran Church of the Philippines (LCP), I want to say this: to be Lutheran is beautiful! This is why I don’t understand the LCP's policies and ways of doing things. I can see that the church here has become stagnant in its worship and all its rules. In stagnant waters, there is a great accumulation of bacteria and the water becomes dark and dirty.
I remember the tale of a lovely, peaceful village with a good people residing there. In the end God made the whole village vanish from the face of the earth. A student asked the prophet why God did this. The prophet didn’t know and wondered as well, so he asked God. God said that, yes, they are good people but they don't live lives that show it and don’t let their light shine. They don't commit murder but their sin is that "they don't dream" – that is, have visions of a better future.
I am puzzled. I almost cry, for the Israelites coming out of Egypt did the same thing. God punished them to stay in the desert for 40 years. When God asked them to walk and achieve a better life in Canaan, what do they do? They complain saying that they want to go back into the slavery of Egypt.
Our church here is so much about logic and reason, but no matter how perfect and good the intention are, what’s it all about? And for whom? For the church?
You know, God is not about religion, or about the church as such. Rather the church is a hospital for wounded souls, a humble place for academics and simple people, for people willing to bend walls to reach out to the strangers and outcasts. In reality our churches are often not like that at all.
If Jesus were with us today and lived among us as a real person, what would he say? ‘Let my grace be sufficient to you! You worry about so much, so much that does not matter at the end of the day. Tell me, what is it that really matters?’
I think God loves the church whether charismatic or solemn, the issue is the church itself: Can I say with confidence that our church is a fountain of God's grace and love, acceptance and forgiveness? If our church is not that, then it’s the opposite: a 'frozen church', a cold hearted church.
If the church doesn’t want to accept change and deal with the real issues of today, it will die. Our young people are dealing with changes every day. Modern technology brings many temptations.
Young people are the future of the church. If they are not guided and inspired, if their desire to dream of a better expression of God's grace in their midst is not met, if they are not motivated or awakened, they too will become cold hearted Christians.
I don't want to be a stagnant water hole and do nothing. I focus on the bigger picture and try to accumulate wisdom and courage to do something worthwhile for this dying church.
We will become elders some day but for now we continue to be leaders of the young. We try to figure out what we can do, day after day, with undying love to live the dream that God has put into our hearts.
I have many a resentment over against my church but it is still my church and I don’t want to give up on it. Fortunately we don’t simply work for the church but for a much more inspirational cause: God himself.