So, between the earlier post and this one, I spent some time reading a book, Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical, by Shane Claiborne. Here are a few of the adjectives that came to mind while reading the first few chapters. Intense. Challenging. Encouraging. Convicting. Heartfelt. Headstrong.
As I read, I was moved by the directness of Claiborne’s style — his good humor, his curiosity, hie openness and his commitment to what my New Testament professor in seminary called, “The Cause”. The Cause represents a way of living in the world with a commitment to justice, peace and the poor. I wondered what a commitment to The Cause might look like here in the burbs.
I’m about to head out to a Stewardship Committee meeting. Trinity Church, like most other mainline congregations faces some significant decisions regarding the way in which we will live our common life and the sorts of ministries we will undertake given the fiscal realities that seem to be so much a part of congregational life. It would be easy to get hijacked in our conversation about budgets, buildings and benefits. Money in. Money out. Balance sheets. The Church as a profit and loss center instead of a prophet and love center.
For years, I’ve sporadically kept this blog. For years I’ve tiptoed around those issue I identified as “hot button”. For years I’ve played it down the middle — a nondescript, white collar worker with a corner office on a quiet street in an upscale neighborhood. In ridiculous, Episcopal Church parlance from a bygone era, I’m what’s known as a “cardinal rector” — which is meant to call attention to the congregation’s numerical and budgetary size. An interesting descriptor given Jesus’ reminder in last Sunday’s Gospel reading that, “whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”
Claiborne’s book has powerfully reminded me that I don’t work with budgets, and buildings and benefits. I work with souls. And not just souls who are paying members. I’m praying God will show me what to do now that the ecclesiastically installed blinders have been removed. This could be an interesting ride.