I may just be an odd duck. I may be an odd duck with odd expectations of the messages and prayers during typical church services.
Over the previous week there have been several world-shaking events taking place and continuing.
Israel, the home of persecuted Jews, the cradle of Christianity and our best ally in the Middle East has been pummeled with hundreds of rockets from Muslim Gaza and is in a fight for its survival as a nation and as a people. There are demonstrations around the world by Muslims who wish the elimination of Israel and who profess their hatred of Jews.
Russia shot down a Malaysian aircraft over Eastern Ukraine as part of its war of division among the Ukrainians. Hundreds of lives were lost.
Central American cartels and governments are encouraging families to be split up by sending their children to the United States for an imagined “better life”. This “better life” creates danger, uncertainty and fear for the children, encourages violation of our laws, creates havoc at our borders, and drains our own limited resources.
Every day, churches are burned, Christian families are martyred and Muslim converts to Christianity are killed – by Muslims.
The church service I attended today did not have one prayer, not one mention in the church bulletin, not one word in the sermon about any of the people impacted or terrible situations going on in the world today. This odd duck found this to be strange.
So this odd duck felt a need to perform a reality check, thinking that today might possibly be “ignore the World Sunday” on the church calendar.
Odd duck called several friends who he knew attended several different churches in the area. Here are the results:
Friend one: His church did not say one peep about any of the above events, either. Wow, I thought to myself. Maybe there is such a thing as “ignore the World Sunday” on the church calendar.
Friend two: Her church included a brief mention of a couple of these events during their corporate prayer time.
Friend three: His church also mentioned these events in their prayer time. But he explained that they don’t want to scare people away by dwelling too long on what is going on in the world from a Christian perspective.
All three of the responses to my odd duck survey confirmed that I am indeed an odd duck in my expectations for church services. I confirmed that while today may not be a total and absolute “ignore the World Sunday” on the church calendar, it appears to be a quasi ignore-the-World-Sunday.
The troubling thing to this odd duck is that most Sundays in church seem to be pretty much the same way. Ignore what is going on in the world. Ignore the impact on and influence of Christianity in the world. Ignore the impact and potential impact of Christians in the world. Ignore the mention of the will of God in world affairs. Ignore trying to express the will of God for the world in our prayers and our messages. The huge majority of all messages appear to be focused inward, focused on ourselves as if we all require repetitious self-gratifying, narcissistic messages.
I do not know the extent to which the denominations of these various churches require strict adherence to their stock topics and scripts. But it seems odd that there is no provision for deviation from the stock topics when current events would warrant. And worse, if there is latitude given for deviation from the script or topic why pastors do not take advantage of those situations to create an impactful relevance to their Biblical message. Why create an imaginary made up “hook” or attention grabber at the beginning of the message when real life hooks are all around us that will and do impact us in real and significant ways.
Ahh, but odd duck, we don’t want to talk “politics” during the service. News flash! All of life is politics: The tension between personal autonomy and larger social forces. All of the Bible is about politics. The backdrop for the Gospel message was all about world events and politics of the day. If the Bible limited itself to the topics the church limits itself today, its shelf life would have been no longer than that of a dime store novel.
To this odd duck, the repetition of the message of the Gospel Sunday after Sunday loses its impact and becomes mundane when its context and relevance to current events and the world’s challenges to Christianity are ignored.