The, A, My.

I am a words person. To a fault.

Sometimes specificity doesn’t matter. Sometimes it does.

I often hear people talking about “the church.” What the church does right. What the church does wrong. What the church thinks about this thing or that thing. Or, as Nancy asked me the other day, “What’s the church think about responses to Ukraine?”

In this case, specificity is helpful.

Which church? Which gatherings of people seeking to worship God and love others? Which people who, because of a sense of connection to the Body of Christ across time and cultures and political boundaries, are worshipping God and loving others?

There are churches in Ukraine, or better, people in Ukraine who as part of worshipping and loving are actively involved in loving and serving and caring and defending and weeping. There are churches in Poland, or better, people in Poland who as part of worshipping and loving are actively involved in welcoming and serving and loving and weeping. There are people from the US who are crossing borders to provide medical care and material supplies. There are people in the US who are sending money to trusted partners to help the people they know.

And there are people who are asking God for peace over there, and then are, appropriately, turning their attention to the family member in their house who doesn’t remember to turn off the stove as a result of dementia. There are people who are offering encouragement to the broken-hearted and safety to the abused and hope to the distraught and understanding to the misunderstood.

And there are people with “church person” in their bio who are offering judgments about the worth of people as they read stories on twitter or facebook or Instagram.

Words matter.

Is that “the” church or “a” church or “my” church or “a self-described but showing no evidence of the compassion and maturing of Jesus working” church?

Of course, the terrifying thing is that humans are often self-convinced that “my” church is “the” church. That “my” understanding is “the” understanding. When that happens, humans often become defensive more than humble, demanding more than kind, denouncing more than inviting.

I know. I could have a remarkably profound last word.

I considered Jesus or peace or listen or be still.

I’ll leave it to you.

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