Jumping The Broom
Love finds a way.
Until the end of the American Civil War, American slaves were not permitted to legally marry. They did anyway. In the shadows and under the stars, in the community of other slaves but away from their masters’ knowledge, they signified their commitment to each other by jumping over a handcrafted broom.
I am regularly exposed to individuals/communities who have been shunned and ignored by the church, or who now feel a distance from our current traditional church communities & practices. In order to enter into a relationship with Jesus (or deepen it) they will have to “jump the broom”. In some cases, this is because of their former religious community’s’ reactions. They have to jump the broom and express their love for Jesus in the shadows. In other cases the mainstream church has placed restrictions on acceptance in its' community, or its current practices and approaches have become so distant from real life that believers no longer find it a context where they are drawn deeper into Jesus. Thus for many, the only way to be in love with Jesus is to ‘jump the broom’.
I have heard defensive rhetoric from the organizational church that frankly makes me both angry and sad. Some examples:
1. “You can’t love Jesus and hate the church” - is often said to followers of Jesus who find the church either irrelevant or un-challenging. Frankly, this is often the church’s way of trivializing legitimate voices or defending its corporate existence without facing the need for change. Many who deeply love Jesus and who are the thinkers, activists, apostles, entrepreneurs and the ‘at the edge’ peoples, are lost to the church because of this unfortunate perspective that protects the church from transforming itself.
2. “Everyone is welcome here” – is a well-worn phrase that is often self-incriminating. I recall a discussion with a partner who recently had someone come to Jesus from a very ‘fringe’ lifestyle who said: “I could never take this person to my church because their story would never be honored”. The social constructs of most churches have a distinct social membership where some cultural knowledge and affinity is needed in order to be accepted. It’s a bit of a ‘birds of a feather’ thing. Yet this very human sociological reality is something the Body of Christ is called to face and transform.
I am NOT here to say the current church and its forms are wholly irrelevant. I am saying that what is, is not enough. For the sake of the gospel of Jesus getting to and transforming those at the fringes of our attention and personal or corporate comfort, it’s not enough. We should not be satisfied.
Jesus’ love can find a way to the lives of anyone. No one gets left out. Imagine if those who want to love Him didn’t have to jump the broom? How would this:
- Change your personal relationships?
- Re-structure the way your church conducts its life?
- Potentially ‘un-structure’ your church?
- Lead you to re-think the true nature of Christian community outside the current organizational model?
- Challenge your perception of what it means to for people to "Jump the Broom” into a relationship with Jesus?
Love finds a way.
Go find it.