In the film 28 days Later, a bike messenger named Jim awakens in a coma. When he comes out of the coma, the hospital is empty. No doctors. No nurses. No patients. Nothing.
Jim stumbles out of the hospital into a London that has been decimated. The buildings are all still standing but there are no signs of life. No signs of life. Using imagery from 9-11, there are flyers posted everywhere; family members searching for the lost.
He walks the eerily abandoned streets of London until he finds a church.
In postapocalyptic London, perhaps the church will provide some answers? He walks into the sanctuary only to find a dead and rotting congregation.
A few heads pop up and then messenger is approached by a pastor vicar. Something is not right though.
The vicar is a zombie! Jim punches him in the mouth (“sorry about that father”) and then runs for his life. The pastor and fifteen other zombies from the church chase after him.
We showed this clip at Lockerbie Central United Methodist last night. And had a conversation about congregations that act like zombies.
As our church has studied the book of Job this past month, we have looked at creativity and suffering. Job might not provide us with answers about why we suffer, but the work does tell us some about how people have responded to suffering. On this night, we looked at what happens when the church is not responding [creatively] to suffering but is actually causing more suffering.
The Zombie thread came from a blog post called “Zombie Congregations” that was posted in February. I wrote a post earlier this year called “Zombie United Methodist Church” about my experience at Lockerbie Central UMC as we struggled to transform the church. Anyways, the blogger, UMC pastor Dan Dick, writes
New people threaten the status quo. Zombies hang out together, and they look and act very much alike. They only attack those who are different (i.e., those filled with life, energy, and imagination). Many of our congregations say “we want new people” when they really mean is “we want more people exactly like us.”
It was an interesting conversation last night. How do we make sure that we are creatively responding to suffering and not creating suffering?