The Bride of Christ, the mystical community of saints called to follow their Lord, is beautiful. She is ravishing in spite of her blemishes; her humanity acknowledges her divine nature.
Like a desperate housewife, though, this bride struggles with situations and expectations she is barely aware of. She wraps herself in vintage dresses of liturgy and music not to honor the path they describe but to insist on their timeliness by the very wearing. She chafes against necklaces of inherited dogma and a belt of tradition that make her movements slow and less agile. Her gait is hobbled by the tight shoes of hierarchy and privileged leadership.
Instead of dancing freely in the world, she is often found kneeling with a bucket and brush, doing housework. She is stuck in the kitchen and the pulpit even as a hurting world beckons her to help. Sometimes she teaches her children to fight rather than to cooperate; she may impart separateness, pride and apathy -- the opposite of what she wishes to teach. Often the ruminations of her mind overwhelm the meditations of her heart. Caring for her clan and setting the table for their meals, she can be so busy with many things that she forgets the one thing that is needful -- listening at the feet of her Bridegroom.
But it does not have to be this way.
I hear this mystical bride (not just denominations or congregations but what Luther called the "hidden" Church) mumbling and yearning for a better life. She longs to be light on her feet and follow her husband's lead. She longs to untether herself from the house and immerse herself in the pain and joy and boredom of ordinary life outside on the streets, as the Bridegroom did. She desperately wants to raise children who want as much to live out a new kingdom now as think about heaven someday.
It's up to us.
How we lead, how we participate in or consume her, these define the extent to which she is bound to our notions or free to follow her Spirit. How we treat her matters to her husband.
What will he say about what we have done -- or not done?