I’m sitting in my office, listening to the men gather for worship in the Chapel. Their voices are full of energy and their anointed singing should be enough to lift anyone who’s feeling down. But it’s not working for me. Their energy seems to be magnifying my weariness. Their faith seems to make me all the more tired. Their joy makes me want to run away.
I’m busy. In point of fact, I’m overly busy – between prison, Church, and home. I never stop. There’s always something more to be done. I have less than a one day weekend. I’m averaging 4 to 6 hours of sleep per night. My attention is drawn to several things at once each day. I have no time to reflect. My nights are short and full of strange dreams – as my brain tries to make sense of all that it’s processing. I feel like I can’t exhale. I feel like I’m running to keep up. I feel like I did when I was working two jobs just to keep the bills paid, the lights on, and a roof over my head. I feel like the working poor.
I’ve often wondered why the poor don’t seem to darken the doors of the Church. I’ve often wondered why the Churches are populated only by the middle class (what’s left of it, anyway), the retired, and the very religiously committed. After tonight’s insight, I think I know why. The vast majority of young families are scrambling to juggle the necessities of daily living. The vast majority of single moms are juggling even harder. And now, with COVID-19, families and single moms have added the title of “teacher” to their already over-stretched list.
The Church is offering the working poor, struggling families, single moms and many other stressed people smiles, coffee, doughnuts, and promises of Jesus’ love. But when you’re over-stressed, it only magnifies your weariness, makes you feel even more tired, and makes you want to run away. In a very real way, our society is too tired for Jesus.
We’ve got all we can handle with news of riots, fear for our children’s future, jobs being lost, politicians acting like morons, sources of childcare vanishing, wondering how we’re going to make sure that the bills are paid, wondering how we’re going to hold our relationships together, and wondering how we’re going to make sure our kids are adequately learning and growing. I can completely understand why the working poor and young families are too tired for Jesus. When you’re in crisis you focus only on the basics, and the Church has failed to offer help with the basics. The Church is too busy being a club that meets its own needs.
Church, it’s time to think like the working poor and struggling young families.