Welsh sermon from last Sunday

I was asked after Sunday’s Welsh service if I would translate the sermon into English. Well here it is, as requested.

To background the sermon – one of the members of the Welsh congregation said to me a few weeks ago, “Why are the churches dying? Who is the church really for?” This is my response to those questions.

One of the questions I’m asked most often is, “Who is the church for?” It’s a question I’m asked almost every week and its one I struggle to answer.

It seems to a lot of people (me included) that many churches have forgotten who the church is, who the church is for, who the church works for and in whose name we work.

So who is the church for?

Well, if you listen to many ministers/pastors/priests the church is for them! You know the ones, the “holier than thou” bunch who live to wield the church’s power and authority as their own, by divine right as God’s great under shepherds.

The church is the minister’s kingdom. He shouts and people listen, he speaks and people do, he is the only one who works, for no one else is capable or under the authority of God. He is THE most important person in the church.

The church exists for him!

No, say the elders, that’s not true. The church is for us. After all we do most of the work, we sit on the committees and the boards, we make sure things go forward (or don’t go forward at our discretion), we pay the bills. We’re the important ones.

The church exists for us!

What nonsense says the congregation. The church exists for us, after all we are the ones who are here every Sunday, the doors are opened for us, we’re the ones that sing the hymns and listen the boring sermons. We are the important ones.

The church exists for us!

Meanwhile, if you listen very carefully you can hear other voices, voices from outside, voices that cry in the wilderness –

The church is not for us, say the poor.

The church is not for us, say the homeless.

The church is not for us, say the outsiders.

Nor for us, say the homosexuals.

The church is not for us, say the young.

The church is not for us, say women all over the world.

And if you listen as hard as you are able – you can just hear Jesus weeping and as the tears fall he whispers,

“The church is not for me either…”

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Welsh sermon from last Sunday

  1. Maggie

    From my observation, most priests/vicars/elders/congregations are humble and welcoming, their arms open to the homeless, disenfranchised, lonely, gay, angry, young, or just plain vaguely curious: ‘Come on in. This church is for you. No – you ARE the church.’ However, pervasive secularism and a cynical media are powerfully antithetical to most churches’ genuinely open hearts. That shouldn’t stop us from reaching out, welcoming in, lifting up, or sitting down with those whom we should (and do?) call sister and brother. I am a little more hopeful that Jesus optimistically encourages us to walk in His footsteps and befriend those whom He too befriended. And that many Christians heed His encouragement. Who is the church for? All mankind, precious person by precious person. (Would that I could say all this in Welsh!)

    • Wow, I wish you could say that in Welsh too. I would love for the congregation to hear it.

      I’m so pleased that you have had positive experiences, and I agree that many priests/vicars/ministers/churches are very welcoming and truly warm places. And I can’t help but agree that each person is precious and we must reach out and be welcoming!

      Unfortunately there are many churches that don’t share our views – many priests/vicars/ministers/churches who aren’t walking in the footsteps of Jesus and befriending those whom he loves.

      So yes the church SHOULD be for the aforementioned groups but quite often it isn’t.

      It’s for the likes of you and I and others to dry the tears of Christ and be the welcoming church.

      Let’s pray that we’re in time…

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