June Message from the Pastor
The love of Jesus Christ is not that soft, romantic, sentimental Hallmark card love, but it
can include these feelings. The love of Jesus is bigger than that. It is a love that is tested by
the ways in which we are community together. This isn’t just a me-and-God-in-my-own prayer-
closet love. This is a love that breaks through our own private reverie, walks
through doors closed by fear. This a love that breaks down the door in emergencies, that
calls us back to right-relationship when we have strayed too far from ourselves, our
neighbors and God. This is a responsible, accountable, abiding-in-God love that is not limited to our family or friends or people who are like or do like us. It is bigger than that, astonishingly, amazingly, impossibly bigger than that. It is common to hear in Christian communities that God is love. Well, you can’t put love in a box. Love cannot be institutionalized. God knows, the Church has tried, but this faith of Jesus Christ cannot be canned and served up cold. It is a living, breathing, embodied presence of God-with-us. Its rule is horizontal, not vertical. No wall or law or doctrine or hateful rhetoric can keep it from spreading.
I have been thinking a lot lately about that word that is so eschewed by many churches today – evangelism.
According to Wikipedia, evangelism derives from the Koine Greek word that was used in the titles of the
four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (also known as the Four Evangelists). The Greek
word εὐαγγέλιον originally meant, “I bring good news.” The same Greek word is used as the root for angel. But
Mainline Protestants more often hear evangelism and evangelist as synonymous with proselytism. Apparently,
what was once good news has become old news, or at least, unwanted news.
Why? Probably because the Word has been used as a weapon against some people and therefore is
absolutely not good news to them (or us!). Possibly, we have been approached one too many times by a
person with a Bible in one hand and the look of one who is dead-set on catching and convincing, regardless of
whether we have already been snagged by a less zealous “Word.” Good News isn’t good when we are bowled
over and flattened by it. Or maybe we are just uncomfortable with so much passion and determination to win
But what about Good News that really is good news for all of God’s people, good news that liberates mind,
body and spirit? What about a Word that is served up at a table to which everyone is welcome, everyone gets
to have his or her fill, and everyone comes away full-filled; a Word that is brought to life in and through the life
of the church through worship, board meetings, educational programs, fellowship opportunities, service
and outreach to the larger community, and spiritual enrichment? Such a Word really is good news! The Good
News of Jesus Christ is not about busy-ness as usual. It is about be-ing all that we can be, as individuals and
So many people have only known “sad” theologies that the Church is losing people more quickly than we gain
them. I would like to take back the original intention behind the word evangelism, that of sharing and of being
the good news. I want to reclaim evangelism as an activity central to the life of the church. Who would be
annoyed to be invited to share in something so life-giving? OK. Some would. But most would be pleased, I
think, to be let in on the secret that Spirit is alive at Rincon UCC, meeting and transforming us, healing and holding and sending us out as the Good News. Many long for a church that is not about domination or condemnation or discrimination but is about mutual respect, solidarity, and wholeness.
Rincon Congregational United Church of Christ is such a Church. Churches like ours are few and far between! We can actually preach the gospel while holding the truth of our lives and world together, and come away with renewed hope for healing and transforming our lives and our world. Come to church if you can. Dare to bring a friend. No purity laws, exclusive doctrine, or hateful rhetoric can keep God’s Good News from spreading. Pass it on!
Read the Thursday E-letter for June 15, 2017 here.