February 9, 2015

Dear Family and Friends of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

If you are a Christian, why go to Church? The criticisms of the Church are wide ranging and often valid. I hear phrases such as, “The Church is full of hypocrites. The service is boring. The sermons are self righteous and full of prejudice.” The Church certainly has its faults, and what has been said and done in the name of Jesus Christ at times is scandalous. Still there is more to the Church, and it deserves every Christian’s consideration.

The Church is not exclusive. It tries to care about everyone who comes into its midst. This means it is a hospital for sinners. I have seen people come into the Church a mess. They don’t treat others well, much less themselves. As they spend time being shaped by the Christian community they grow and become better people. Every Church member knows there is room for self improvement, and many people take that knowledge and act upon it.

The Church is a community. Americans care deeply about individual rights. This is the foundation of a free society. Still, we need to be with other people. We may not like it, but they give us feedback to help us learn. We also have much to offer others, and we can’t help them if we aren’t present. As a community, the Church not only thinks and reflects upon Jesus’ teachings, but in many instances puts them into action.

Worship at times may be boring, but sometimes it can lift the soul and cause it to soar. This may come from a hymn, a sermon, a reading, or in communion. God is swirling around during worship, and he delights in impacting us in strange ways. When we come to Church for worship surprises can come our way and from directions we least expect.

Like it or not, Jesus determined that the Church would be the vessel from which the Good News would be shared with the world. Otherwise Christianity would be a philosophy rather than a way of life. The Church in its often quirky ways challenges us to act upon our faith. It holds us accountable for our conduct and guides us to help others beyond our comfort zones. There are a wide variety of Church communities in our nation. Find a congregation that connects you with God, stick with it, and let it shape you as you influence it. With my love and best wishes, I am,

Your brother in Christ,