"A Sanctuary in the City… Living Faith"


This picture is one of my favorites that I took on our recent Israel/Palestine pilgrimage. It was on the Mount of the Beatitudes, and I was deeply struck by the irony of this image. A fountain of water springing forth from a rock, the words of Christ from the Gospel of John inviting all who are thirsty to come and drink…and then a “Do not Enter” sign and a sign saying, “water not for drink.”
As I traveled through this land of walls and welcome, of beauty and heartache, it got me thinking about the barriers that we erect to prevent people from coming to the living water. What are the things that prevent people from coming to church, from being in relationship with God and God’s beloved community? Who makes those barriers? How can we remove them?
We are in a time in our culture when the relevance of the church is in question, perhaps more than ever. The fastest growing segment of the religious landscape is the “Spiritual, but not religious.” These are, by and large, people who have a strong belief in some sort of Divine presence, Divine Love, but are not sure that the institutional church is the best expression of that. Perhaps they were hurt by the church. Perhaps they were excluded. Perhaps they were told they were welcome, but only if they denied, suppressed, or changed some part of their identity. Perhaps they simply never felt that the church reflected God’s love in a way that was meaningful or authentic.
God calls us to live life abundantly. What roadblocks do we put up to prevent access to that abundant life – for ourselves, for our neighbors, for all of God’s beloved?