The church of the misfits by aqi13375


									The church of the misfits

By the Rev. Eric Elnes, Ph.D.
Senior Pastor, Scottsdale, Ariz., Congregational UCC
Scottsdale Tribune "Clergy Corner," Sept. 13, 2003

Bright lights pulsed frantically. Techno-industrial music pounded
my body as if the band was reaching out with invisible boxing
gloves. The audience sported black leather, gravity-defying
hairstyles, and enough body-piercing to set off metal detectors
miles away. I had stumbled into this New York City club quite by
accident, never having heard of the band on the marquee: VNV
Nation. I found the crowd cued up on 42nd Street so fascinating I
overcame my apprehension and paid the $37.50 cover,
descending below the street. What awaited me was an
unexpected lesson in theology.
Song after song, the swaying audience chanted virtually every
word, but I could only make out occasional lines. What came
through surprised me. I expected to hear calls for aggression and
hatred, based on people's appearance. (I'd never want to meet
any of them in a dark alley.) Instead, I found mourning and
lament over dashed hopes: Our domain, this kingdom
come now godless lands whose ways are lost. Without the
strength to carry on. All values lost all virtue none. I heard
confusion and confession: I will not deny that nothing can
defend from the helplessness that's cutting deep inside, and I
cannot prevent the thought that nothing's real. Seems I've
waited years for this day to end. And they asked tormenting
questions: So why do I love when I still feel pain? When does it
end, when is my work done? Continuing to watch and listen, it
suddenly occurred to me that even though most of the audience
wouldn't be caught dead in a Christian church, they were actively
connecting with deep elements of Christian faith. They were
relating with, articulating—even embodying—the shadow side of
the Cross: that no-man's-land between death and resurrection
most Christians scurry past on their way to Easter.
I wished the crowd could experience the triumphal side of the
Cross. But I also wished churches would more willingly embrace
wisdom gleaned from its tragic side. Remembering September 11
this weekend, it seems especially appropriate.
I have a fantasy that you will one day know my church as the
"Church of the Misfits." Misfits because we are totally
unconcerned with external appearances, and focused instead on
finding Jesus wherever he may be found—including a VNV Nation
concert in New York City.

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