The Power of This, That and Those

The demonstrative pronouns "this, that and those" used within the context of the Church can be hurtful, alienating, and potentially stymie individual and communal opportunities to participate in the advancement of the Kingdom of God. This could be especially true when we are referring to different cultural, ethnic, economic, and social contexts.  So often I have heard Christians say, "We don't sing that type of music here!"  I have heard "we don't what those people in our church!"  I have heard declared with passion and fervor over, over, and over again, "This is the way we do that here!" 

When I hear these responses, I say to myself, "Wow, this is the Church? I understand why people stay home on Sunday mornings and why possibly the Church is in decline." When I think about my cultural context, I often think "this, that and those" is talking about me as an African American woman and all that I bring. I guess I would stay home too. Who wants to feel not welcomed for all their richness, be rendered invisible, and denied the opportunities to bring their gifts and talents to the table?

What is the real story behind "this, that and those"?  Are we ashamed of saying what we are really thinking and feeling? Are we truly saying we don't want homeless people in our churches during worship?  Are we really saying we don't want ethnic music in our worship service?  Are we saying we don't want poor people or marginalized people in our worship service?  Are there hidden issues of racism, prejudice, and power underneath our comments and stances?  Is it possible "this, that and those" are pointing to the people that we really don't want in our churches? Are we alienating ourselves from a broken and hurting world and the very people who need unconditional love and to be embraced by a Christian community? Tough questions, huh?  Honestly, are we really picking and choosing who is in, and who is out? If that is true, may the coming Christ bring light to such darkness in our hearts, and avail opportunities for truth telling and confrontation.  There is hope.

RDB