Yesterday, as we were trying to get to church, we discovered that there was a marathon being run that used the intersection at which the church sits not once, but twice. We had to turn around several times and, ultimately, cross the route illegally in a couple of places simply to get to the building.
To make matters worse, yesterday was the Sunday our music department presented their Christmas program, and the choir and instrumentalists all had been asked to arrive early. (Good luck with that!) Much of our already scant parking was either inaccessible or already taken by others, including police cars. I, of course, was furious that, on what should have been one of our most significant Sundays, the city had conspired to kill attendance and thwart our work.
When we tried to talk to people about the race interfering with church, they suggested we move our service time, clearly convinced that their once-a-year event is more important than who we are and what we do. This is a not-so-startling symbol of how attitudes toward church have changed in our society. As infuriating as it is, we who are people of faith must admit that we are the ones to blame.
The problem is the Religious Right has been the only church voice for so long that mainstream society has rightly assumed that if that is all the church has to say they should ignore us and go for a run instead. Frankly, I agree with them. If Christianity is an anti-tax, pro-gun, anti-women faith that acts as if Jesus was a conservative, white, Southern American, then I need to run, too.
The only way to put an end to marathons disrespecting churches is to make them see that our church is the only hope for stopping global warming, reconciling race relations, ending religious jihads, and actually bringing peace on earth, good will to all. If they believed that we are the ones who can do that they never would interfere with the work we do. They would consider us as sacred as the temples of commerce they never would close the streets in front of on Saturdays. Instead, churches can just change their worship times because Christians obviously aren’t doing anything important in the world.
Rev. Michael Piazza