This past month, I received the most devastating news about my home church in Chicago. The senior pastor - the founding leader had been publicly accused of sexual misconduct. I read the online news report the night before it went to print. I immediately thought, “No way”, and dismissed it as a confusing vendetta against him and the church. Over the next several weeks, so much began to be written about him and my beloved church - a place where I’m eternally grateful to for discovering amazing grace, my love for ministry, and the deepest relationships of my life. There were meetings held and posts written - both in defense and in truths against him. I couldn’t open any social media or news outlet without reading the newest revelations or the opinions of so many. Much is still being investigated but the overwhelming attention and effort by the leaders and elders of the church needed to address this situation led to him beginning his retirement early and into a time of honest reflection.
It may be without go without saying, but I have ridden the roller coaster of emotions and responses with this news. have felt sadness, anger, depression, and more and it’s yet to be over. There’s still so much to figure out about what has happened and what is the truth in the situation. My heart has broken for everyone involved.
In the midst of the conflicting thoughts and the whirlwind of this situation, one thing has been made incredibly clear to me. I love Jesus and I love His Church. I mean capital “C” church. Not just one place, but the Church worldwide throughout all generations. I love the beautiful, messy, broken, redemptive Body of Christ. The pain of this entire event has reminded me that the Church is not just a place we attend a service or a ritual we go through each week. It’s not a requirement of rules or a club to join. The beautiful, messy, broken, redemptive Body of Christ is the embodiment of Jesus here on earth. Jesus placed the work of building this new community of faith into the hands of people who would be empowered by His Spirit yet still working out their faith. All of which just means that it is filled with people who are fallen yet forgiven. Redeemed yet real. Marvelous yet messy. The soberness with which we must walk together is immense. We are accountable to and for one another. Jesus has called us HIS Body. Remember what He said about His body on the night of His betrayal?
He took bread and broke it. He said,
“This is My body which is given for you…”
Luke 22:19 NASB
His body was the very evidence of His love. His body would become broken and crushed and poured out for the redemption of the world. It cost everything to love us. The realization of that cost with the truth that the Body is also broken should sober us in how we care for one another and how we witness to the world. The Body of Christ is called to be the very evidence of His love on this earth. This crazy entrustment carries great responsibility. Us. You. Me. The light of the world. Oh my gosh.
So in the Even If of this recent situation with my home church, I sit and am humbled that God would entrust His very reflection of Himself into our very messy and stumbling hands. And He would only do that because He is still the Head. He is still the One who holds it together. He chooses to use this desperately-needing-grace-place to shine a light of His love to whomever will see it. The goodness of the Lord is still being poured out in all our lives when He brings the Church together. I am confident that He will break, redeem, heal, love, and renew this situation and more.
The Lord remains very good.
“...upon this rock I will build my church; and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18b TLB
Mary Quillin is a city-girl-turned-country-girl in her new life in North Dakota. She has been married to her hubby for 16 years and has 3 wonderfully, different kids who have begun their teen years (and she would appreciate all the prayers as possible on that note). After many years in full time ministry, Mary is learning how to show up and daily discover the journey of being available for whatever Jesus leads her to. She spends her days trying to build a welcoming shabby chic home in the heartland of North Dakota while learning to write and run.