Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cissy Houston Brought the World to Church Today

I confess I didn't like Whitney Houston too much.  I preferred Dolly Parton's version of "I Will Always Love You"  When I heard she died my first thought was that I thought she had already died a few years ago.  As far as I knew she was a has-been druggie and I was annoyed by all the coverage.  

I'm one of those people who keeps the TV on for noise and it's usually CNN so I was pretty annoyed all week because it was all Whitney all the time.  I had no intention of watching the funeral.  Surely there would be some cute show about kittens on Animal Planet, I thought. 

I had a funeral myself this morning.  I came home, turned on the TV and Bishop T.D. Jakes was really preaching it. I wished I had preached like him.  I could not turn off the TV.

I did not know that Whitney Houston was a person of deep faith who never left her home church.  I did not know she was insecure and never felt she was good enough.  I did not know Whitney Houston.  I did not know her to admire her but I did not know her to dislike or judge her either.

That's the thing.  We don't know these people.  What we do is use these people.  Interestingly Andrew Root spoke about this at the Luther Mid Winter Convocation.  As our identity is wrapped up in consumerism, we consume celebrities and throw them in the trash when we are done with them.

The televised funeral of Whitney Houston showed a community that did not throw Whitney away.  And thank God it was televised because I heard the Gospel being preached over and over and over again, in word and song.  And I thought of all those people who were tuned in in order to consume more, but maybe got more than they bargained for.  This was not a tribute...this was church.  Three hours of it.

 This is why I don't believe the church is going away anytime soon.  It's just not going to be the way it used to be and we are going to find it in places we did not expect, like live-streaming on CNN.  And a lot of the community will be strangers tweeting it.  But it will be the church and it will be there to tell people - You are a beloved child of God and you are not something to be used and thrown away.  Praise the Lord. Let the church say AMEN!


  1. GREAT response. Our local Fox station aired it, which I thought was intriguing. My spouse was more fascinated than I thought he'd be. Later, when we had dinner with friends, people kept saying, "Why did this happen? Why didn't that happen?" I kept saying, "Well it was a funeral, after all, not a tribute show."

    You've just sparked this morning's blog post--I'm off to write. Thanks!

  2. Love what you wrote here, Joelle. Probably more people ("unchurched") will have a more positive exposure to church (as community of faith) because of this televised funeral. FWIW, the Jakes preaching gave me (good) chills and Costner's eulogy moved me to tears.

  3. I didn't see the funeral, but I love what you say here about church, about consuming celebrities, and about the gospel. Thank you.