Sunday, December 07, 2008


Read Mark 1:1-8

While our golden retriever, Dusty, is known throughout blogdom as the Church Dog, at home he is affectionately called COTU -

And he certainly acts like it at times. The only reason we get out of bed this morning is so that he can get his food, and be let outside so he can sit on the front lawn and survey his domain. We come home, simply so that we can take him for a walk, throw a ball for him and, of course, feed him. And anyone who comes to the door, be it friend or neighbor, be it a young person selling candy for her school or the plumber, they have come to play with him, to admire him, to let him know how beautiful and wonderful he is.

Oh yes, in Dusty's world, it is all about him!

I am beginning to wonder if that attitude - if that sense of being COTU - hasn't crept into the church.

Someone says that our church is dwindling and if it closes, there will be no one else to do what we have been doing the last 50, 150, 1500 years. Really?

A study proclaims that by the year (take your pick), the mainline denominations will have disappeared, and we talk as if at that point Christianity will disappear from the face of the earth.

A moderator, a theologian, an author, an 'expert' speaks at a seminar, and offers the 9-step-program to become the most successful, the most popular (and populous), the most well-known congregation in the country, and we drop all the faithful missions and ministries we have been doing to serve God's people, in order to be first in line to buy the program.

Well, maybe it's not all about us. Maybe it's not all about a particular church staying open. Maybe it's not all about a denomination which has become outdated and outmoded.

Maybe, as Mark says, it's about the gospel. The Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's not about my sermons, or her music, or our successes.

Maybe, as Mark says, we are not called to be entrepreneurs, or emerging prophets, or listed in Time magazine as one of the top 10 preachers.

No, it's about being forerunners, messengers, friends of the bridegroom, pointing past ourselves and all our pretensions, all our insecurities, to Jesus.

Maybe, as Mark says, we are living in the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And we need to stop acting that if we don't do it, it will all come to an end.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

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