I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And "Thou shalt not" writ over the door;
So I turn'd to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore,
And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.
_William Blake (1794)
Sometimes I fear that the church has lost sight of what it is supposed to be all about. God created the world and saw that it was good and yet we have looked upon it and called it evil. So we build walls with roofs, doors, and windows and we call our creation Church. "Church is good!," we declare, while we judge those behind the gates we've locked to keep them out. We suppress that which we should celebrate and celebrate that from which we were made to be free. What if we were to rediscover the art of affirmation. What if our walls and gates did not define us, but rather, we were defined by how well, and joyously we played in the grass?
Sometimes people don't need Church to snap them back in sync. Sometimes people are well on their way, already enjoying the garden of God's love, long before the church comes to them. Does such a person need a Church of walls and gates? Does such a person need to hear "thou shalt not"? That will only ruin their garden. What such a person needs the church to do is affirm their desires, affirm their passions, and walk beside them not before them. Sometimes people outside the church doors are far better at being the Church, than those within the church doors.
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