THEY DON’T KNOW US

Posted by secondchurch on December - 27 - 2017

Reflections from Pastor Mark

      The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.       ~ Sydney J. Harris

Second Church is filled with a bunch of “stuffed shirts.” That’s what our façade says about us. Our building looks like Salisbury Cathedral so people think we are a church of stuck up Anglophiles. You know differently and so do I, but not many other people do.

We recently hosted a funeral for a 52-year-young mother who was a Buddhist from Japan. Her husband was Jewish and from Russia. Their children have been to Second Church for Youth Group and to participate in past years’ Christmas Pageant. At the funeral, I welcomed the large congregation of mostly “un-churched” folks as I often do with the UCC mantra, “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”  I explained that we are a Christian congregation who is committed to interfaith ministry and that I had prepared a funeral service for the deceased and her family who are not Christians.

Leah and I offered “spiritual” prayers that were adapted from Christian and other faith traditions … or that had no reference to God. Andrus offered music that was spiritual. My remarks during the eulogy were sentiments that I had gathered from the deceased woman’s friends, a pastoral message about forgiveness which I include in many funerals because so many of us leave this world without having reconciled with loved ones, and a poem about the mystery of death. The funeral really wasn’t a whole lot different than most funerals I have officiated at Second Church except that there was no language about the Resurrection and not much about God. I did, however, refer to Jesus several times because he is my spiritual Master.

A number of Second Church saints helped with hospitality as greeters, ushers, and they put on a wonderful reception with the help of the deceased woman’s friends and a caterer that her husband hired. After I thanked several of our Second Church helpers, some said that they were happy to help and some said, “This is what we are supposed to do,” which was not coincidental.

What was most remarkable to me was that countless people approached me to thank me for all the church had done and for the beautiful service. One Jewish woman said, “I had no idea there was even a church like yours.” A Catholic man said, “I wish our priest knew how to make everyone included the way you all do here.” A person with no faith community said that she would be back to worship with us sometime because she felt like she learned how ignorant she was about Christianity – that she could not only embrace the God we worship but that she felt the need to be in a community like ours.

I guarantee that every member of Second Church knows a dozen people who “need” what we have … people who are hungry for it and whose lives would be more fulfilling if they had it. With very little effort, we could double the size of the congregation in a matter of months – if you would just tell neighbors about our amazing church and our progressive faith that is based in love.

I can’t make you do that, though. It’s your church. You can talk to others about it and help it expand or you can remain silent and help it contract. You have to want to share what we have with

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