Lorigo = Children of Immigrants Against Immigration



"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

Upton Sinclair


Upton Sinclair wrote one of the most influential works of literature in the history of the United States of America.  His novel The Jungle was catalytic in the passage of the Food and Drug Act.  Indeed, the act passed into law only four months after the book was published.  Sinclair was pushed into the spotlight as a national figure for his work.

The book detailed the lives of immigrants in America, many of whom worked in the meat processing industry; at the time, a horrifyingly disgusting and dangerous workplace environment.  Sinclair wrote the book as an intended expose on the plight of the poor and immigrant in our country, and the exploitive way the rich were treating them.  The American public responded to Sinclair's book with great uproar, but not in the way Sinclair had hoped…

He is quoted as saying, "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach."

One of the most gruesome episodes in the novel, (a worker falling into a lard-rendering vat, instantly dead, and unable to be removed), served not, as one might think, to provoke changes in worker safety, but to protect the purity of American lard by the immediate passage of federal legislation.


Safety and Danger in the Church

We baptized several people on Sunday.

One of them was my son.

It was glorious!

People shared briefly of their decision to follow Christ, to be washed clean in His death, and remade in His resurrection.  And then Pastor Cap and I plunged them into a feeding trough full of water!

At the baptism of the first adult, I saw gallons of water slosh over the side and onto the floor, water went everywhere.  I thought, "well, its too late to stop it now, people are here to get baptized, and we will just clean up the mess later."  …and then we kept right at it!


Afterwards I got to thinking about the mess of the baptism, and what that says about the church as a whole.

So often we expect the church to be safe in all of the wrong kinds of ways.  We don't want anyone to come in and bring any of the world in with them.  We don't want anyone to come in who doesn't fit, who isn't tidy, who doesn't play by our rules.  In short, we want our faith community to be comfortable for us.  May our church never be this safe.

But what that ends up producing is a church culture that promotes hypocrisy, secrecy, and emotional isolation.  If no messy people are allowed into the circle of christians, then we can't let anyone know about our own messiness.  We have created a club for perfect people, and that is a very dangerous thing for a church to become.  Dangerous in all of the wrong sorts of ways.  May our church never be this dangerous.

Instead the church is supposed to be a safe place for messy people to let their messiness get dealt with.  People are supposed to bring the world with them right into our community.  The church is supposed to be a safe place for dark secrets to be exposed, it supposed to be a safe place for bad habits to be dealt with, its supposed to be a safe place for vulnerable wounds to be exposed and healed.  May our church always be this safe.

The church is supposed to be dangerous too.  Dangerous in the same way a show at Marine World is dangerous; you might get wet!  Dangerous to our comfort, dangerous to our ego, dangerous to our need for control and our desire for gratification.  Celebration is always a danger to decorum; just as worship is a danger to pride, fellowship is a danger to wealth, and glory is a danger to apathy.  May our church always be this dangerous.


It wasn't just the water that was a little 'messy.'

We joined together with another congregation during the service.  Both congregations had members to baptize, so we celebrated the unity of faith in 'one baptism' as proclaimed by St Paul.  This meant we got to hear preaching that was different than normal, got to see baptisms performed in ways that were uncomfortable for some of us, and heard things said that we didn't all agree with.

I have to say, I was blessed to see the way people entered into the mess, cleaning up the water, engaging in relationships across dividing lines, and celebrating the beauty and potency of the Spirit's work in the lives of the saints.  This is a picture of how the church is supposed to be safe in the right ways, and dangerous in the right ways...


What is Needed for Unity to Flourish?

Be completely humble and gentle;
be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit
through the bonds of peace.

Ephesians 4:2-3

What, precisely, is meant by 'every effort?'

What hasn't been tried yet?

Remembering that Scripture commands 'every effort'
in the preservation of unity,
reflect on the places where disunity is present in your life.


Humility is required.  Humility is the recognition of one's proper place in the order of things.  Knowing where you belong, and whom you belong to.  Understanding what authority you have, and who's authority you are under.  Knowing what wisdom you possess, and knowing what wisdom you lack.  Recognizing that you cannot stand alone, and have been joined (by God!) to those who challenge the bonds peace. Humility is required for unity to flourish.

Gentleness is required.  Harsh words and hard responses invite people to see us as their opponents.  Condescending tones provoke inferiority and/or indignation.  Strong actions, when taken without mutually agreed upon wisdom, lead to wounds; wounds lead to pain, mistrust, anger, and fear.  Gentleness sets aside all of this, and invites trust.  A gentle man can be trusted not to wound; even when he misunderstands, he does not misstep, because his steps are slow and deliberate.  Gentleness is required for unity to flourish.

Patience is required.  Perhaps the older word is better; long-suffering is required.  It has been said, about the work of reconciliation, "if you are bleeding, you are doing it right."  It has also been said, about the fellowship of Christians across cultural lines, "expect to offend, and to be offended."  Patience is the willingness to tolerate discomfort, disagreement, confusion, pain, deprivation, misunderstanding, even egregious offense, with the expectation that the future will be better than the present.  Without patience there can be no maturity, and maturity is a pre-requisite for unity.  A mature believe understands that all holiness, all glory, all wisdom, and all godly power, comes into the community of humans through a process that takes time, energy, and obedience.  Unity will not be sustained without the 'long obedience in the same direction.'  Patience is required for unity to flourish.