The word for church in Scotland is “Kirk.” I never knew this until I read C.S. Lewis’s The Pilgrim’s Regress. It is an allegory and in it Lewis has a character that is a representation of the church named “Mother Kirk.”
In naming the church Mother Kirk, Lewis was drawing on the nurturing aspects of a mother — much like Jesus was when he said:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37
For the past couple of years I’ve reflected on the church as Mother Kirk. I see an irony, however. The irony is that instead of seeing the church as a nurturing and caring mother, many people I know see it as a Jr. higher sees his mother — annoying and smothering. A Jr. higher doesn’t want his mom hanging around when he’s with his friends, and, likewise, many churchgoers don’t want their church to be seen or known by their friends and neighbors. We’re embarrassed by our mother.
When I reflect on Jesus’ movement and his followers I see many instances where people were excited to bring others along (see John 3, Matthew 15 and Acts 2). Somehow we’ve got things inverted. We don’t value the church as we ought to…
I guess that leaves me with the dream I have for Antioch. I dream that we will treat it like a jewel and not like a ring pop. I hope that we will be drawn to Mother Kirk and not embarrassed by her. And lastly, I pray that we will go out and make a compelling invitation for others to join us.
“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.” Luke 14:23