What Kind Of Town (Church)?
On Sunday, October 21, 2018, we will gather to celebrate our life together as a community of faith that reflects God’s rainbow - rich in diversity, enterprising in mission, compassionate in our care of the vulnerable and welcoming of all who seek a place to worship the Creator God of our being. It is an important day in the life of our faith community as we gather to celebrate our life together, render an account of our stewardship, to elect lay leaders to serve on the Vestry and to offer a compelling vision for the coming year.
I walked to New Brick on Tuesday afternoon to check on the technicians who were working on the installation of the new Rodgers 599 Organ. It was a joyous moment for me. And I am sure when you hear the organ sound on Sunday, you will be filled with as much joy. It has been long in coming, but the depth of commitment and the drive by parishioners to ensure that we have a new organ was immense, captivating and actually tells a much deeper story about the character of the people of our church. It is that character that I hope we can tap into as we work to live out God’s mission for us and for our beloved community in the coming year and beyond.
That brings me to a story of an old wise old man who lived in a small town. Every day he and his granddaughter would sit outside his gas station in rocking chairs, waiting to greet tourists as they passed through their town. One day a tall man with the appearance of a tourist started looking around like he was checking out the area for a place to live. 'So what kind of town is this anyway?' he asked. The old man replied, 'Well, what kind of town are you from?' The man replied, 'One where the people are critical of each other. It is a real negative place to live.' The old man said, 'You know, that is just how this town is too.'
Later, a family passing through also stopped for petrol. The father stepped out and asked the old man, 'Is this town a good place to live?' 'Well, what about the town you are from?' he replied. The man said, 'Where I'm from everyone's close, and always willing to lend a helping hand. I really hate to leave it.' The old man smiled and said, 'You know what, that's a lot like this town.'
After the family drove off, the old man's granddaughter looked up and asked, 'Grandpa, how come you told the first man this was a terrible place to live, and when the second family asked, you told them it was a wonderful place to live?' The old man looked into her big blue eyes and said, 'Sweetheart, no matter where you go, you take your attitude with you - and that's what makes it terrible or wonderful.' After a moment of silence, he added “Life is what you make it.”
What kind of town or in our case, what kind of church? With God’s grace, it should be our hope to build a church that imagines the future, and creates a path to that future. The path should be about speaking the truth in love, listening intently to all, daring to forgive all and be committed to change, not for its own sake, but with a purposeful drive towards transforming lives-our own and that of others.
What kind of church? In part, our attitude will determine that kind of church-a church that reflects the perception of the tall man or that of the family. My prayer, as we mark this milestone in the life of our church is that we may seek to be a church where each heart bleeds with the joy that is of God, each eye looks each other in the face with a love that is of God, each hand welcomes each other with a handshake that tells of God’s assuring presence and each person hugs the other with an embrace that tells of God’s glory.
Join us on Sunday and help us become the church you want to see and be a part of!