Saturday, October 18, 2008

Marginalization

Throughout the Biblical story one thing is clear: God is on the side of the oppressed and marginalized. He stands for the poor and hungry. His holy nation was a small nomadic tribe, oppressed over and over. Jesus visited with the unclean, the lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors and Samaritans.

We're also called to stand up for the oppressed, the poor, the widow and orphan. This is the calling of the Church.

This American economy and culture pushes the poor to the margins. We celebrate the wealthy and the decadent. What's even worse is our church congregations push them to the margins of the worship services.

Someone said Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week. Rich congregations gather, poor congregations gather. Hispanic congregations, black congregation, families, social-minded, etcetera.

When someone ventures out of their place and into a different congregation, they're stuck in the back, or off to the side. I remember when a couple homeless-looking guys came to this large, wealthy congregation here and were personally ushered to the back of the room. Surely we can't have these people mixing in with those people we really want here (because they tithe a lot!).

I have struggled with this in my own pursuit for a fellowship. I don't feel at home with the jock crowd, and they aren't comfortable with me. Clearly I have the advantage of being male and white in America, but if I'm not fashionable enough, or I don't fit in some way, I'm not welcomed nearly as much as when I visit a small, poor community.

So should everyone just find a small, poor community? No. What we need to do is welcome everyone. The Church is not a social club, it is not meant as a place where like-minded people come together. No, it is a place where like-Spirit people fellowship. The focus should always be on the Spirit, and worship of the Father.

A lot of congregations try to entice people to come by relating to them on the carnal level; sports, art and good music are a few examples. Why can't we just relate to their heart?

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