Day two of my sabbatical travels has me driving from Cleveland to Minneapolis, my longest one-day drive of the journey at about 11.5 hours not counting time for stops and road construction, which in Indiana seems to be about every 20 miles. Along the way I listened to another book about how adversity can make us a better person. One image really stuck with me as I begin to imagine the conversations I will and already have had on this trip regarding the decline in worship and Sunday school over the last decade and how will Our Savior address it. The image was simple. Imagine driving in a car with a big black fly banging into the front window trying to escape. You power down the windows so it can escape and stop annoying you. Except, the fly keeps trying to escape through the windshield. Going forward is the only option it sees. If it would simply change its direction and fly a different way it could escape!
I wonder if that’s the problem the church is having with worship and the faith formation of our children. Are we so focused on continuing the models of the past that worked well (quantitatively) back in the 50’s and 60’s that we fail to see those models are no longer effective and will never be again? We keep “flying” forward with new curricula or new “contemporary” songs for worship only to bang into the glass window that is in front of us. Maybe it’s time to seriously look at the culture and society we are living in and give up the myth that we can somehow wish life was like it was 50 years ago so we can create some serious and realistic program models for the future that address the culture we live in with the truth of the Gospel and ways to faithfully live it out in daily life.
I’m tired of banging my head against the window trying to move forward with mission and ministry. No, I’m exhausted. There has to be another way because the Holy Spirit always finds another way to insure the good news of God’s love and grace and life and forgiveness are able to be proclaimed by the people of God. The challenge will be in not only introducing and cultivating these new models during this time of transition, but continuing to provide the old ones for those to whom they still work in their lives. Maybe by turning around and going what appears to be in the opposite direction is exactly what we need to do in order to move forward in mission and ministry within our little congregation in Haddonfield and maybe in the Church itself. What’s that old saying, “When the world closes one door, God opens a window.” And sometimes we just need to turn around in order to fly through it.
Blessings on Father’s Day