In early August, I was cleaning out a desk in what used to be the Pastor’s Office, to make way for our new Director of Youth and Family Ministries, Traci. As I was going through the top drawer of the desk, I found something I had never previously noticed. It was an old bank book for an account that was closed in the mid-1990’s. It very clearly had not been touched since then. It contained a little over $100, matching the amount in the account when it was closed. According to the writing in the ledger, this was money that belonged to a Men’s Group, comprised of men from our congregation.
Ever since I arrived to this church as your Pastor, I have heard that there has been interest over the years to have a Men’s Ministry the way we have a Women’s Fellowship…but this was the first time I had found any evidence that such a group had existed here at one time.
Around that same time, the youth of our community—and fans of quality musical theater—were dealt a blow with the closing of Patrick Dorrow Productions. The nonprofit theater company went bankrupt and abruptly closed in August. Several youth from our community had been deeply involved and invested in that theater production company, as children of all walks of life, all economic backgrounds, and all skill levels to explore their passion for theater. In talks with Graham Alvord over the last few months, I have heard a lot about our own church’s long history of providing a performance space in our Parish House for various kinds of performances, from Christmas Pageants to secular plays, from choral performances to blue grass bands.
Yesterday in worship, we celebrated the story of Naomi and Ruth, a story about two women who are facing certain death, clinging to one another for dear life…and finding a way of not just surviving…but thriving in a world stacked against them. We also told a story about the men of Israel who Joshua led to victory over their enemies who made the decision to cling to their God, come what may. We closed worship by issuing a challenge, a call, an invitation to all who were gathered in our sanctuary: Find your people…find those who are suffering as you are suffering…find those who are afraid as you are afraid…find people who have reason to be anxious and afraid in this world…and cling to them. Let your people become OUR people…help our church serve those who need us most.
This will be an ongoing theme and exploration for us in the weeks to come. We will continue to issue the call: Find your people…figure out how to cling to them…let us become a people of joy and celebration and hope and love in a world filled with fear and dread.
For my part…I’ve decided to find a way of clinging to my people…the people who represent the two primary aspects of my personality: Men and Theater Kids. In the days and weeks ahead, I will be searching for partners to come with me on a journey to cling to A) Men who are looking for a space in which we can explore healthy masculinity, the unique challenges and power that come from being born male in our society, and B) Kids who feel drawn to performance, who require a safe space for them to learn how to utilize their natural gifts to “Re-perform” timeless stories, and begin to find their own stories.
In addition to our thriving community of more than 300 people, I am choosing to find some extra time and energy to cling to these groups…to provide a shared space that serves them in their need. I have already heard from others inspired by yesterday’s service who desire to cling to Future Generations who are facing an uncertain future in the wake of Climate Change; addicts and families of addicts in need of people who can share their pain and their struggle; parents who need a space to be served and replenished after giving so much of themselves to their children; a space for families to eat healthy meals together on a regular basis; conversations around preparing for death and dying in responsible ways that serve our families and community long after we are gone.
None of us can do this alone…we all need one another. If you feel moved to learn more about these opportunities, or if you feel a call to cling to others we haven’t even dreamt of yet…please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will find ways of supporting one another in the work of Loving this World to back to life.
Strength and Courage be with you all, Courage and Love,