I’ve known a congregation that appeared to me to worship the worship service. They spent huge amounts of time and money to make the worship service as perfect as they could. I thought that their priorities were misplaced. From what I know Jesus’ actions did not include emphasis on making the worship experience perfect.
Much of the Gospel record shows Jesus caring for the poor, those with illness, the lowly, those filled with demons, and feeding the crowds. I translate this to “social justice” actions by Jesus.
How much should the Church be involved in social justice issues compared to building the institution which is the Church, remodeling the worship space, and supporting the education and other programs that benefit the members?
In Sara Miles’ book, Take This Bread, she describes how her congregation changed from the typical church worship activities to developing a total commitment to offering free food to the hungry.
Certainly St. Gregory’s, San Francisco, where the transformation took place, has swung far to the side of social justice issues. How far do our individual congregations go in serving the needs of the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the outcast, prisoners, jobless, mentally ill who reside within our communities? As I see it, the commitment is something like our Lenten disciplines. We are doing something, but we could do more. It is so easy to gravitate towards taking care of the routine activities of the congregation and to put off pushing ourselves to help others in need.
John 21: 15-18
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”