Friday, November 12, 2010

On the Edge

I've been struggling a lot lately with what I guess I'll call "the church on the edge." It's nothing new. But being relatively new to this line of work, it's not something I've had to deal with first hand.
The church is balancing on the edge of a cliff, I think. At the top of this cliff is a baren wasteland. A dry, tumbleweed-strewn, dust-blown landscape--dead or nearly. At the bottom, a verdant landscape, lush, maybe a lazy river snaking through, trees, animals, you get the picture.
But back at the top, this church--The Church?--has to decide if it has the guts to step off that cliff. 'Cuz baby, it's a long damn way to the bottom. The ride will be bumpy and we might get a little bruised and even a bit broken on the way.
My congregation has a lot of elderly folks, but we also have a few younger families with young kids. It's a really, REALLY hard balancing act to find ways of worship that are relevant and inspiring across the board. My own six year old has no qualms about telling me how boring she finds 'church' (read 'worship') to be. Hell, I'm starting to find it boring and I'm the one who puts it together! I actually threw the hymnal across the room because I was tired of looking at hymns with archaic words (thee, thou, ye, etc.) and stodgy tunes--and it was the one published in 1990!
And here's where I have to steel my own nerves. Do I have the guts to push my own church over the edge down that cliff? So far, not yet, but I think I'm getting closer. The church, as a whole, is balanced on the edge of that cliff. For the most part, churches are in a nimble dance to keep it balanced there. Maybe they just need someone strong enough to give a good push to send them over the edge.
Yes, as I said, they may get a little bruised and battered on the way down, but damn if it won't be worth the trip!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

I hate to admit it, but I play favorites. I should love all seasons of the church year equally and treat them the same, I know. But I just can't help it--I love Advent best. Honestly, it doesn't have that much to do with Christmas itself. I just love the expectant waiting. I happen to be one of those sorts who actually enjoys anticipation. I love writing the Advent candle lighting liturgy. I love the advent carols, some even more than the Christmas ones. I love getting the Advent calendars for the girls in the mail and...
well, ok, I love some of the secular stuff too. I admit that getting to bake the Christmas cookies and a joy for me. I do like to decorate for the holidays with evergreens from the backyard and the glow of candles on every (high, out of reach of small children) surface. We're not traveling this year so it'll be a much quieter, calmer experience since we won't be getting ready for both Christmas and traveling.
So, yeah, I play favorites. It's just how I roll.