Rev. Estelle Margarones
“I’m not that kind of Christian.” Have you ever said this in response to someone’s perception about Christians?
I’ve said this many times…including a few this week. I dread having to say, “I’m not that kind of Christian” because it reminds me that some see Christianity as synonymous with intolerance.
Particularly during this pandemic, there is a great need for those who provide nonjudgmental presence and inspire hope. You and I know that this is what our church does! Yet, we forget that here in New England, there are more people who don’t know what church is than there are people who do. (Which, incidentally, is why I have repeated, “church isn’t a building, church is a gathered body of people who care” in our online worship.)
In New England, fewer than 20% of people attend church. When people who have either never been to church...or had one or more bad experiences in church...or observe a church member or leader being judgmental or unapologetically doing things that endanger others; it reflects poorly on churches--and Christians.
I received a four-page form letter this week. The sender feels strongly that the church universal is disobeying God and breaking God’s laws. The letter speaks of repentance so that people can escape the wrath of God. I admire the sender’s conviction, but at the same time, I grieve the tone of the letter.
I personally appreciate churches that use love, not fear, to motivate people. I would rather reflect Christ’s love and concern for people, than strike fear in their hearts.
If you believe that we do shine Christ’s love and light at First Parish, then please tell someone about church. There is nothing better than hearing good things about a product or service firsthand from someone you trust.
If a conversation you had with a pastor (or someone at coffee hour) has ever been helpful, please tell someone how church made a difference. If anything you’ve heard in worship has impacted your week in a positive way, please tell someone how church made a difference. If you’ve had the chance to be helpful to others or receive help from others through any of our volunteer opportunities, please tell someone how church made a difference.
I wish the standard were understood to be that Christians embodied the characteristics of Christ: kindness, compassion, helpfulness, forgiveness, inclusiveness, patience, faithfulness, and so on. Then, I could say, “Yes, I am THAT kind of Christian!”
Galatians 6:10 “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Colossians 3:12-13 “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Together, we can bring Christ's word and work to the world.