I have just returned from vacation and from visiting friends and family back east. I was able to meet my new grand-nephew and celebrate a wedding. I also enjoyed seeing people at the 18th Chromosome Registry Annual Conference. As I reenter life here on the west coast. I am reflecting back on the experiences of vacation, and one image I cannot get out of my head is the parking lot which is all that is left of the church I grew up in. It is a complicated story of how my home church went from being a thriving congregation where I experienced the presence of God, heard my call to ministry, and was nurtured in the faith by those wise Christians who taught me the stories and lessons of the Bible is now gone. In fact I was happy to see one of my Sunday School teachers, who now attends another church cross town where my parents and other family are also members. They all went to this new church when the church we all used to go to was condemned and then demolished.
I think of the parking lot as I go back to my work here in this church where I have been appointed for the last three years and I wonder, what will this church be like in 20 years? Will it be a parking lot? Will it be relevant? Will it thrive or die?
There are many distractions in life that can keep us from being attentive to the call of God to be witnesses of the faith, to work for peace with justice, to be a voice for the outcast, to transform the world. Sports, or robotics, or karate or band or tutoring or any number of activities can draw us away from being attentive to the Spirit, to the soul. I find myself wondering if I am failing in teaching , inspiring others to follow God when I see empty pews. I have no problems with the activities people choose, I worry however for their souls , for their foundation, is what they are choosing helping guide them in the tough times, helping them to see the pain they can help heal, to see the ethical way of living, of following the lead of the Spirit?
The path is not always visible, the way not always easy, the ground always level, yet I renew my vow to serve God, trusting wherever the journey takes me I will be faithful, loving, transforming pain into healing. Perhaps this makes me a fool for Christ, to trust even in the face of the realities of life. What do you think? I would be interested to hear what you see, hear, feel. Because we are in this together after all.