I admit that this blog entry may get me in trouble. That’s okay. I was in a situation today that disturbed me. Whether it should have or not – I am not sure. One of my core beliefs is that God is speaking through our culture and it frustrates me when we seem to be unwilling to hear the message. Luke tells a story of Jesus entering Jerusalem at the beginning of the Passion Week. It is the day that we call Palm Sunday. On this day, the supporters of Jesus lined up as he came into the city. Basically they threw a party for Jesus, and as happens when you throw a party – it got noisy. And as often happens (I apologize for this – but it is true), the religious people got upset about the noise.
As the religious are complaining, Jesus stops and makes a statement. “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” The message seems to be that God’s message will be revealed under any circumstances. If we keep quiet, God will reveal the message in another way.
Here is where I think we have a problem. I believe (and you can argue with me) that the church in North America has been silent. It is not that we aren’t speaking – but we aren’t speaking the language. We aren’t making a connection with the culture, we have stopped speaking the language of the people around us. And for us it is frustrating because we think that we are speaking the message, but we aren’t speaking the language. So God has picked up the message himself and our culture (the same one that we are ignoring) is screaming out his message.
To make matters worse, we seem to be proud of the fact that we have no connection with culture – proud that we don’t understand the movie references, or the music – any part of the prevailing culture. But having said that, we also know that we stand for something - well, different. We are supposed to “remove the high places.” But the high places will never be removed until we can at least speak the language.
We can’t ignore our culture. We have to learn to speak the language and communicate with people outside of our holy groups. It is a sign that we love them and truly want the best for them. And then we will be able to be the witnesses we are called to be - again.