A dog can teach by what she could not do! Our rescue border collie has a crushing fear of stairs. We’ve been told that perhaps someone did terrible things to her as a puppy up or down a flight of stairs. Try as we have to coax, cajole, treat, woo, give her affection, etc., this fear remains. Last week she and I walked a gauntlet in Ridgefield through a driveway instead of using the upstairs walkway to the parking lot all because she became paralyzed in her terror. Unmovable, she shook and cried (more than even during a thunderstorm) .. so unable to carry her (one of us needs to hit the salad bar more), I retreated and took my chances with her through this driveway and hoped that some unseeing or texting and racing motorist was not going to impel (impale) us both prematurely into our eternal place in the Kingdom of God.
You know those clever Geico commercials: “if you’re a ____ , that’s what you do!” So if you’re afraid, that’s what you do: you freeze, you whine, you cry (in terror), you lose hope, you cannot move. Sadly, this is what some church communities do.
If growth is the mark of a healthy church community, then remaining frozen in one’s ways, (a.k.a. – “we’ve always done it this way” or “She’s the one who always does this”) becomes a potential sign of a church in trouble. The Gospel must be preached and lived, but how that is done and by whom and using what tools, what programs, what music, which events, led by which group, using which talents – all these elements change over time and as people themselves change. And that’s a sign of a community that is healthy.
If we ever choose to remain frozen, like it or not, this is a sign that we are afraid. Fear will paralyze us, and ultimately we will not be the witnesses God has called us to be in this region of upper Westchester. We are the signs of Christ’s presence, and we’re not afraid to be such. That’s what we do!