When I was a girl, summer days seemed to lastforever. I spent hours riding my banana-seat bike around the neighborhood, swimming in the local lake with my friends, catching fireflies in the evening, and later, falling asleep to the loud ceiling fan in our house without air conditioning. It seemed to be a simpler time, if only because
- The hours on the grandfather clock in the hallway ticked by without interruption from something called a “text”;
- A pen pal’s letter took weeks to reach its destination because instantaneous “e-mail” hadn’t been invented yet;
- Telephone conversations were treasured and extended events, as we pulled the long cord away from the kitchen, and mother’s listening ears;
- The entire family watched the evening news on one television in the living room at the same time each night; and
- Sunday morning worship was predictable, reassuring, even boring. Not much changed from year to year, and the only televangelist the pastor ever got compared to was Billy Graham.
Today, our children carry their clock, their mail, their phone, and the evening news on one electronic device – a device they carry in their pockets at all times. In an instant, they see images of all that is happening in the world, for good or for ill, and with the swipe of a finger, they can tell all of their friends.
Our children no longer engage in lingering telephone conversations, instead opting for abbreviated code in a group text or creating their own visual narrative on Snapchat. Kids today “hang out” on their phones and computers, rather than riding their bikes around the neighborhood to see who can come out to play. And Sundaymorning is anything but boring, as families jostle their children from one youth sporting event to another, in addition to trying to get everyone to church on time.
It’s as if the pace of life has accelerated. Or maybe the world has always been this complicated, and now we can just see everything that is happening – all at once, and together.
This summer, our community faced multiple, complex ethical dilemmas when we were urged to sort out “whose” lives matters, leaving us all “black and blue”! These events played out in rapid-fire real time on our smartphones, computers, and televisions, leaving our children asking: Who is right? Was that wrong? Am I safe? How can we make a difference? Is it possible to create a better world?
Which is why there has been no more important time in the life of our church than NOW. Churches have historically occupied an important place in the public square in our communities -- communities still plagued by systemic racism, prejudice and violence, not to mention hunger, poverty, and homelessness. So our witness to the world is more important now than ever.
Following the example of Jesus Christ, St. John’s continues – in its 145th year of ministry -- to offer a different ethical model for confronting the difficult realities of life than that offered by the world. Instead of retribution, hate, and violence -- our Christian ethical model begins with (1) loving God -- with all of our heart, soul, strength, mind. And then we are commanded (2) to love our neighbors, as ourselves.
Sounds so simple, yet we know that in practice, our Christian ethical model can be quite complex. Which is why we don’t journey alone. Instead, we gather together regularly in our faith community to wrestle with the tough questions, to support each other through thick and thin times, to worship God, and to practice our faith. Because it is in community that we truly learn how to love one another, as God has loved us.
Please join us this summer for worship at 10:30amon Sundays, and at 12 noon on Wednesdays, followed by The Largest Table community meal with our homeless and marginally housed neighbors. Invite your family and friends! Come and experience our re-newed and re-energized faith community, and become part of our vibrant future. We look forward to seeing you this summer!
In faith, hope, and love,