Thursday, January 24, 2019
“What is God Calling me to do?”
Let me give you an example of something which, while majestic to witness, is a sign of things-not-good. You who are caretakers of dogs know that no matter the weather, you must take care of your charge and provide opportunity for him or her to respond to the “call of nature.” So Abby and I had our share of slip sliding and trekking over the frozen snow and ice these past few bitterly cold mornings/evening. And then we saw it:
At the back of the yard usually runs a waterfall type stream (referred to as “babbling brook” in the real estate literature). However in response to subzero wind chills, that entire water display (from over the hill way beyond our back yard down to road beyond the front of the house) had frozen solid. It is a river of ice – suspended in time and space. Any creature unlucky enough to have been in it is now solidly embedded within its mass (kind of like Harrison Ford’s character “Hans Solo” in the concluding scene of Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back).
There is a seductive attraction to the frozen river. It is beautiful to behold! It is awesome and cool to witness a wall of water now frozen where it used to flow rapidly. But it’s wrong! This is so wrong! That water was intended to move, to vivify the life forms within it, and to gracefully inspire us to passage with it into future movement. But it’s motionless and solid, going nowhere, and taking up space without purpose.
One of my concerns for our parish (as a symbol for my church in general or even our nation) is the fear that we become so fixated on ourselves, that we never consider change or growth or the input of anything or anyone new, and we remain “frozen.” When I was investigating this deep and rich Anglican tradition of Christianity, one of the factors I had to overcome was how some few people (with smirk but also with a kind of off putting pride) advised me that “we are God’s frozen chosen.” Now I don’t hear that phrase uttered aloud much anymore, but I certainly still experience the effects of those who choose to believe this.
While I do not believe in shedding all traditions or always taking a contrarian approach simply because I can (that’s such 9th grade thinking, is it not?), I am very concerned by those who desperately want to hold on to structures, people, ideas or material things which no longer serve their original purpose. In any organization, a parish included, if the buildings, just as an example, become a drain or an eyesore because one cannot properly and responsibly care for them, then holding on to them makes little sense. If people choose to move on and find their own way to God by another path, rather than condemn them or desperately try to hold on to them with self-denigrating apologies, let them go. Honor their choice. Be faithful to what you believe is the right choice for you. If new people do enter our community, they need to be loved and embraced and listened to – and not merely talked at and made to feel that they should be grateful we let them in the door. Just because things were done in a certain way for years, decades or even centuries does not, of itself, tell us that this is the way things should be done now. We need to discern, judge, examine, pray for wisdom, and then act to bring about, with God’s grace, life we share and will share, and not just muse that our better days are behind us.
I believe in movement. I believe in growth. I believe that “God calling us” means we must move towards God – and “move” is the operative word. I don’t want history to judge us as the group that chose to remain frozen. Looking at the frozen waterfall, I am afraid it has lost its beauty as far as I am concerned. Just saying!