What We Miss When We Keep People Out

7 comments Written on July 26th, 2016     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
imageRev. Cathy Kaminski is the lead pastor at Trinity Community Church in Cincinnati, OH. She is blessed to be counted among pastors in the Evangelical Covenant Church and strives to be a voice that celebrates the stories of faithful women who have gone before her.

This past month a young couple in our church had their first child. Only ten days after their son was born they made it to our Sunday service. These rock star parents triumphed over the hardship of the early days of new life to allow the community of faith to celebrate with them. We were overwhelmingly blessed to worship with them that day. Nothing about getting to church is easy with a new born. Nothing about leaving the house is easy 10 days after a C-section! But this family made gathering together a priority and sacrificed to make it happen. We were better because we had them in our midst.

As a joke, I sent the new parents an “inspirational” passage in scripture. Leviticus
12:1-4 reads, “The Lord said to Moses, 2 ‘Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. 3 On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. 4 Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over.’”

Oops…looks like the new mom was supposed to wait twenty-three more days before coming into the sanctuary! I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. This passage seems absolutely absurd. Though, as crazy as this sounds in our 21st century context, the Law of Moses did at one point have a place. A new mom is susceptible to many harmful things in the first month after giving birth. Some new moms TODAY choose to stay home for the first weeks after delivery because it is better for the health of mother and child…but it was not the Law itself that was absurd to me. It was how it can be misconstrued and abused. The heart behind the law is good, wellbeing of the mother & child, however, the logistics of this law could also have devastating effects on the entire church. Because staying to the letter of the law means we exclude people from worship. And when someone is excluded, the entire community of faith experiences a loss.

I thought about the story of the hemorrhaging woman, (Matthew 9:20-22, Luke 8:43-48 & Mark 5:25-34). Here is a woman who had experienced continual bleeding for 12 years. In accordance with the Law of Moses, during this time she was not permitted to enter a sanctuary and worship with her people. She would have existed on the margins of her community. She had suffered much under this affliction. She spent all her money to see doctor after doctor with no impact except a worsening condition. Yet, even after all that, even after years and years of heart ache, isolation, and being an outcast in her community of faith, this woman still had hope God could heal her. When she heard Jesus was coming through her town, she pushed through the crowd to touch his cloak because she had hope and faith that God would bring an end to her suffering. TALK ABOUT FAITH!

The instant she reached out for Christ she was healed. Jesus stopped to recognize the faith of this tremendous woman. He called attention to her, listened to her story, and declared her healing and forgiveness to the crowd of people.

If I were this woman, I’m not so sure I would have such enduring faith. I would like to think so, but if I’m honest I really don’t know. This is what I am certain of: I want to know this woman. I want to worship with her. I want to see how God moves in her life. I want her in my community of faith. I want warriors like her in my church. Because a woman like this, who endures, suffers, is cast aside, yet still seeks the face of the Living God can impact the church for the Kingdom in powerful ways.

I think about what her community missed out on for those 12 years she existed on the margins. How many blessings did they miss because they followed the letter of the law instead of the heart behind it? What did the community loss because according to the Law they must keep her out instead of inviting her in? Do we fall into this same trap today? Do we keep people out of our communities of faith that could point us towards Christ in unbelievably impactful ways?

In my own life, I was told I could not be a pastor because of what scripture says. The letter of the Law told the church to keep me out. And sadly, I listened for a long time. How many years of ministry did I miss out on because I failed to see the heart of the law. A law that actually points me to being faithful and sharing the gifts that God alone gave me. What did the church miss out on? I’m not saying I’m some amazing pastor and the church is so much better because of me. But God called me to this life. He is that one who equipped me for ministry and set me on this path. He is the one who created me to impact the church for his Kingdom.

So let’s be honest. Let’s name the places where we keep people out. Let’s recognize the impact of the loss. Let’s start there. For all the new mom that are told to stay out of the sanctuary, to the bleeding women and the female pastors. Let’s not put God’s Law above God’s charge to love. Let’s not let the Law dictate how we see people and worship God.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

7 comments “What We Miss When We Keep People Out”

Cathy! I love how you related how the bleeding woman is kept out of the community of faith due to the letter of the law and not the heart behind it, to how so many people to today are kept out of the community of faith due to any number of reasons. I had not thought of this story this way before. Thanks for the insight! We need each other! 
Grateful for you my sister and friend! 

Report This Comment

Thank you Ellie! And thanks for pointing me towards this scripture last week:) 

Report This Comment

Cathy, thank you for lifting up this story in a wonderful practical way. You have challenged me to take a step back and look for those I may be alienating.

Report This Comment

Thanks Dru! We all need to be reminded to step back. Scripture is constantly asking us to do a heart check.

Report This Comment

Wow! And just think, had we continued to follow the letter of the law we would have missed this, too.

Report This Comment

I’m thankful God challenged me! I was the last one to listen to His calling when everyone around me saw it. I would have missed this life!

Report This Comment

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog