How to Wear History

choices for churches

Some churches wear their history like a shroud — with the past draped heavily over the face of the present. The past is silencing, secretive, and corpse-like.

The cape-wearing churches tell stories with many actors, who have many foibles.

The shroud-wearing churches tell stories where one person is to blame.

The cape-wearing churches tell stories that happen all over the place — the sanctuary, but also the retreat setting, the party at so and so’s house, the time we went to Capitol Hill, the homeless shelter, stories told with gusto.

The shroud-wearing churches tell stories that happen in the room where Session meets, or in the parking lot afterward, stories told in whispers.

The cape-wearing churches sometimes organize events by email, or Facebook, and plans can change at the last moment.

The shroud-wearing churches stick to their administrative manual, which is thick. 

The cape-wearing churches are a pain to keep clean, what with the play-doh and streamers.

The shroud-wearing churches are clean, if you don’t mind the slight smell of stagnation.

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I'm a Presbyterian pastor and the author of two spiritual memoirs. RUINED was recently named a "2017 Book of the Year" by Christianity Today.