Friday, November 2, 2012

farewell to an old friend

It hit me today, that this would most likely be our last time in public together.  Its not that I'm ashamed of you, it's just that... well, I have to face reality.  You are worn and tired.

You've been a great sweater - one of my favorites for a long, long, long time.  On days when I'm in need of 'comfort clothes' I've always reached for you first. But the reality is that the spots where I have had to darn you are becoming obvious.  And each fall when I pull you out I find even more holes.  The sleeves are getting thread bare and even though you are my favorite sweater, it's time to make friends with a sweater that will suit me in this season of life.

yes, it's time... sniff
Favorite sweaters (or... insert shoes, hairstyles, wallets, you get the idea) have something in common with churches.  We get comfortable with one another and before we know it, we make assumptions that this is the only way to be, does 'we've always done it this way...' sound familiar?  When we slip into this way of being we lose sight of other options and we miss out on opportunities to live into new realities.

This point was driven home Wednesday night when I was out at Harlington Cemetery with the Sr High youth for our All Hallow's Eve service.  Yes, I took high school kids to the cemetery for communion on Halloween - it was a cool service and we had some great time sharing about loved ones who have gone home to be with the Lord.

As part of our worship we read the 23rd Psalm together, and afterwards one of the boys grumbled about how hard the words were to pronounce and how awkward it is was to read the King James translation.  Ouch!  I had always thought that the 'old' words were comforting - but I sure don't want God's word to be a barrier.  As someone who thinks of herself as forward thinking I realized that it's time to revisit this one.

Change is hard.  We don't like to change until the only other option is loss - then, we have a tendency to become overwhelmed and anxious.  It's human nature.  We naturally yearn for what is manageable, but often times the energy necessary to keep things manageable wear us out, which leads to anxiety and an overwhelmed feeling.
There is hope, however.  The very natural movement from manageable to overwhelmed to vulnerable to energized was explained at a recent Iowa Annual Conference clergy gathering in a presentation by Field Outreach Minister Rev. Paul Smith.  Here's a link to the presentation it's only 4 minutes long and well worth your time.

I especially appreciate how Paul points out that our most creative moments can come from when we feel most vulnerable - which in turn leads to everyone becoming energized.  Hope is a powerful thing!

I can let go of the 23rd Psalm in King James language, its not like I will never read or pray the 23rd Psalm again...I can also let go of my favorite sweater.  I happen to have one or two more sweaters in my drawers.  I have seen a church become energized, and its true, we had to become vulnerable with one another before we could start making headway.  It is an exciting time to be a part of the church, even if parts of us feel old and worn in this season.  Our triune God is not done with us yet!

If we truly want to 'make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world' the good news is that we don't have to go it alone, as Paul Smith said, the way to make change is in community walking side by side one another.  I like this, very much.

in Christ, together,

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