Where the World and the Church Intersect
It's easy for the Church to bow to the alluring callings of the world. It feels cool to have a Church that is staying up with the times.
I'll be the first to admit that I'd like to go to a Church with a coffee shop in the lobby and an ATM machine just outside the door. I wouldn't mind a Church that helped me with car repair or a Church that actually took the poor seriously. It would be nice to see a Church that valued preaching every week and not just at Christmas. Imagine a Church that had great music all the time and not just when the choir really prepares extra hard.
This wish-list sounds lavish, I know.
God created the world and it's our job to help Him redeem and co-create it. Whenever I hear someone rail against secularism, I try to listen carefully to see if they see the world as a totally barren place or one with the capacity for renewal. (I know, this is not a habit of normal people.) This world-or-church paradigm is, I think, somewhat of a false dichotomy.
There is a soft spot for where the world intersects with the Church. This just might be the place where the Gospel is needed the most. Isn't that what it means to be "in but not of the world" as St. Paul preached?
Worldliness has been part of my own Advent journey this year. Instead of letting the stuff of the world stress me out (be honest, when you see your neighbor putting up his Christmas lights, don't you feel a nudge to do the same?), I've gone with the flow and tried to take things more slowly. It's not that I'm shunning the world but rather trying to respond appropriately.
My lights won't go up until this weekend. I don't plan on sending out Christmas cards. My co-worker gifts are all getting the same gift (I ordered 10 copies of Jim Collins' book, Great by Choice). I'm going to a Mass on Christmas eve at a place that I know will have inspiring music.
And guess what? I feel great about all of this. I think Christmas will be meaningful this year because our family has been intentional about Advent and how we see the intersection of the world and the Church.
It doesn't have to be an either/or proposition.