Friday, August 11, 2006

How would anyone be able to pick? . . .

Today, while searching in the phone book for a place and number, I decided to go to the Yellow pages under Churches. Well, what a staggering amount of "churches" or more accurately stated, ecclesial communties were to be found! There is only One Church, but who could deduce that by page after page of names of "churches?" The ads were loaded with tag lines to draw the seeker. 2 were very large with a photo of the senior Pastor included, which did seem a little self-promoting. Both ads were the largest of all and probably more expensive, but be that as it may, one thing I did notice amidst all the countless hundreds of "fellowships" was that the Catholic column had only the Church's name, address, and number. There were no zippy ads or catchy phrases or "tag lines". That got me to thinking that perhaps that's because there's no need to become "worldly" to draw the world.(?) You just have to be Truthful.

My head was spinning and my heart was heavy with hurt at finding column after column after column of so many denominations, so many non-denominational fellowships, so many interdenominational communities. I found the First church of this, the first reformed church of that, the 2nd reformed church of something else that obviously didn't like the doctrine of the first one but of what? Talk about confusing!! Who is the author of confusion? God? No.

If I was agnostic, atheist, a non-believer who was getting curious about faith, religion, church, Christ, etc. where on Earth would I begin to look when grabbing a phone book? How would I EVER find a church or a group that would promise to give me the entire Truth that I'd be searching for, in this endlessly long litany of groups, fellowships, "churches" sects, etc.? The only "tag line" (for lack of a better term) for one of the Catholic Churches (though still only One Church, teaching the same doctrine/faith/morals under One authority [which Jesus instituted] so one knows what one will find in most of the Catholic churches he might visit.) was this: "Celebration of the Eucharist" at St Mary Magdalene, downtown Omaha. That was it. They took up less room in the phone book, used less paper, at less cost (for conservation minded folk) and being One, there's no need to rattle off some slick slogan to lure potential congregants.

This to me, was very telling of how "American" Christianity has become, and how independent a spirit it is that is guiding so many to "plant churches." Plant churches. Think of that for a minute. Christ said "upon this Rock I will build my Church" Not plural! One Church was formed, established, instituted by Christ. ONE. ONLY ONE. But right from the "get go" there were heretics and "independent" souls who for one reason or another, didn't lilke the Church's authority, so they began to "plant" churches to appeal to their own agendas and likes and dislikes. That's human nature, the fallen human nature in us all folks. It's how we're "bent." We don't like something or someone, it's not long before we are "out of that place" or "that marriage" or whatever and we're off to another group, marriage, or whatever else it may be.

Independent and dissident aren't two very comforting words when it comes to spirituality. Remember who the very FIRST dissident was? Yes. Lucifer. Now please, don't misconstrue my words here. I'm not calling all these pastors and fellowships "bad or evil" people. Many are truly kind-hearted, well-meaning congregations and ministers who love the Lord with all their hearts, and long to do the right thing and teach people about the Love of Jesus and his mercy, etc. I was taught scripture by very well-spoken and intelligent pastors and bible study leaders who loved the Lord and helped many people find Christ. BUT.... how long do any of them last? Some a long time. Many a main-line protestant church has been here since the 1500's. But many only in the last 100 years. Many more just in the last 25 or 5 or less years. Does that strike anyone but me as "dubious?" Does TRUTH that's been taught in the Catholic Church for 2000 years, that's stood the test of time, and not changed to accomodate worldly whims matter to people?

Joe Blow can start, plant or open a church on any street corner or movie theater and voila ~ a new improved version of whatever denomination, non-denmomination, inter denominational fellowship he left has just been planted! He doesn't even have to have attened a seminary. Wow. So Joe Blow has come up with the truth now? But yet he doesn't agree with brother so and so at all about "the basics." That's another debate for another post. The "Basics." Just what are the essentials or the basics we're all okay with and practice? What does Jesus mean when he says "This is my body." "This is my flesh for the life of the world." What does he say to us about baptism? He's very clear. He's not full of doublespeak or inuendo or nuances when he spoke those statements. I'd say they're as basic as can be, but yet to some he meant "his words" or "his spiritual teaching" blah blah blah. Who says? How and by what authority do they interpret Jesus words to mean something COMPLETELY different than what he said? That is baffling to me now and if it is to any of you, why not pursue the Catholic Church. Visit some links here and find TRUE answers to your HONEST questions.

Tag Lines:

"Come as you are, share the spirit"
"The Church empowered by God's words"
"Where Jesus Is Lord"
"Live the journey"
"Growing in Christ"
"Experience real life change"
"Impacting community for eternity"
"This is real LIFE"
"Verse by verse bible teaching"
"Discover and live God's Love"
"A Christ centered family church"
"Where Christ is exalted and people are loved"
"Saturday service. . .with food!"

Food? cookies/coffee/juice is food? No, it's a more social time, a more "neophyte" "seeker-friendly" service - period. You wanna talk food do you? The Catholic Church offers True Food and True drink....Christ's BODY AND BLOOD...for the LIFE OF THE WORLD! How's that for FOOD??!!

The best one of all was from a long ago Vaudeville queen: "Never place a period where God has placed a comma." Gracie Allen.... "God is still speaking." hmm wonder if they serve Starbucks or some other coffee? Who is on the coffee committee of these churches? Do you think Jesus prefers Starbucks to Caribou? I'm jus' sayin......

On and on it goes. Some of these ecclesial communities may not be around by next year. Does that not bother anyone? Some split over music or other such externals. Some folks leave and hop around for years seeking the "one perfect church" and then when they"find it" and join, it's imperfect again because they're now going there. Yes, there's many a sinner in the Catholic Church, from high up to lowest member. Peter, the first Pope, denounced Christ and pretended to never have known him to "save his own hide." So we got off to a "human" start. So what? She is still the ONLY CHURCH to not back down on matters of faith and morals and the gates of Hell have NOT PREVAILED against her. I've said that so often in other posts, but it's true. She, our HOLY MOTHER CHURCH is TRUE. There's NOTHING wrong with the CHURCH Jesus established, but being sinners, there's much wrong with some people that make up Her body. She's a hospital. She will heal the sick, and the sinful that have faith to believe in Her love, Her guidance and in Jesus as the Head. He who gave One shepherd to guide us and keep us when he left this Earth, as any good Shepherd would do. Trust in Him, Jesus, to not lead you astray and to have left a Church with a magisterium who will always bear and uphold Truth. She's the safety net and loving Mother, calling all to come home, welcoming all to enter her divine protection. Thank God for Authority and a Safe Harbor in this big, dark, frightening world. Bless you and God be praised!

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