The Pastor's Buzz

Pastor Buzz Trexler's blog for God's people in The Meadow.

My Photo
Name: Buzz Trexler
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Journalist for 29 years; married to Donna for 28 years; parent of David, 27, and Elizabeth, 24; pastor of Green Meadow United Methodist Church in Alcoa since 2002.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Is there no balm in post-Christian America?

This past Sunday was "Heritage Sunday" in the United Methodist Church and as I was exploring John Wesley's social holiness approach I stumbled upon a sermon by the Rev. Dean Snyder at Foundry UMC in Washington, D.C.

I was actually preaching on the heritage of Stephen's boldness and servanthood in Acts 7, while Snyder was using the text from Jeremiah 8:22, tying it to an untitled sermon that Wesley preached on that text in Dublin, Ireland, at the age of 86. But even though they are widely different texts, Wesley and Snyder started a thought process that led me to wonder, "What will the heritage of Green Meadow be 40 years from now?"

And that has led me to consider the heritage of the Church at large in our community.

Basically, Snyder said, Wesley was asking, "if the Methodist movement he had begun was so successful, as it was, why wasn’t the world a better place? ... 'Why has Christianity done so little good, even among us? Even among the Methodists?'"

As I see church after church grow in our community of Blount County, and new church startup after new church startup spring forth (there seems to be one a week!), I find myself asking the same question: If the Church is so victorious in our community, if we are drawing so many to Christ, so Holy Spirit-minded and full of light, why does it seem that so little good is being done?

Why are the pages of my newspaper filled with violence, drug abuse, alcoholism and hate?

Why are the hungry and destitute turned away from the doors of churches, large and small, or made to feel unwelcome in The Body?

Why are inward focused buildings and programs more evident than soup kitchens, free clinics or food pantries?

Forgive me, because even I sometimes fall into the trap of "facility envy," but how do basketball courts and indoor walking tracks "care for the widow and orphan," or spur us to "do justly, love mercy and walk humbly" with our God?

Oh, I get it: We walk humbly with our God on the walking tracks.

I know, I know ... I'm sniping here, and I again apologize for any offense. I know that widows might, indeed, find great fellowship and health through the use of such tracks. And I also know that basketball programs such as "Upward Bound" can introduce unchurched youth (perhaps some of whom are orphans) to Christ. But in this postmodern, post-Christian world we live in, it's hard to defend what some might call "Jesus Cathedrals" when there are so many hungry, hurting people in our community.

With all of the "Purpose-Driven" explorations of our Spiritual gifts going on (if Protestants have a pope, Rick Warren has most certainly overtaken Billy Graham), wouldn't you think new ministries to serve the basic spiritual and physical needs of the "ones we despise" would be likewise springing forth?

Sad to say, but we see far more press releases and advertisements about "NEW!" worship services than "NEW!" local missions. True worship is not about "me and my Jesus," but about sharing the love of Christ with others in real and tangible ways. True worship is more than raising our hands toward the heavens; true worship is extending our arms outward to a person in need.

For some of us, both postures are uncomfortable ... and that's a crying shame.

In his sermon, Wesley joined Jeremiah as the weeping prophet: "Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?"

I'd venture Jesus is right there with them, weeping.

Grace and peace ...