This meandering little piece could alternately be titled “In the Bleak Midwinter” or simply “Midwinter Melancholy.”
Do you remember the ol’ children’s finger-play about the church/steeple/people? It might have done more harm than good, because it started out wrong with the words “Here is the church,” while indicating a representation of the building. Most folks still have trouble realizing that people are the church.
I think about church a lot, and not only on Sundays. What is church? What has it been—for me, for others? What could it or should it be? I daydream,¹ and I become disillusioned, and I gain some energy or hope once in a while. A week or so ago, on my go-to “simple church” blog, I read about God’s being on the move, and I was at once inspired and repelled. Inspired, because I like thinking of a God who is as active as in the old times. Repelled, because I don’t sense the motion right now. Regardless, I do like the ideals below, from this blog. Try them on, opposite your concept of “church”:
- It’s about a Jesus-lifestyle, not an organization to belong to
- It’s about being God’s people 24/7, not attending meetings or “services”
- It’s about incarnating God into the world, not attracting people to a clubhouse
- It’s about gathering in a participatory manner rather than being priest-led
- It’s about leadership that empowers and releases rather than controls
- It’s about discipling by relationship rather than by program
– Roger Thoman, Simple Church Journal (edited)
So what do you think of those affirmations? I would say very similar things, but I eventually become disappointed by ideals: they only go so far when there’s no motion—or any real hope of motion.
Remember the song “I’m Pressing On”? It begins like this:
I’m pressing on the upward way. New heights I’m gaining ev’ry day.
Johnson Oatman Jr. (1856-1926)
Hmm. I press on most of the time, but I feel like a flatlander, not a height-gaining mountain climber. Another stanza begins,
I have no desire to stay where doubts arise and fears dismay.
But still I’ll pray ’til heav’n I’ve found, ‘My prayer, my aim is higher ground.’
Like Oatman, I have no desire to stay where I am, and my aim is higher. Still, actually, I don’t feel like there’s foreseeable “advancement.” God might well be “on the move,” as suggested in the blog referred to above, but I don’t feel as if I’m part of that right now. I feel like my feet are frozen. Will the frostbite keep me from reaching “higher ground,” or will I deal with the numbness and tingling, brave the headwind, and plod on?
Oh, for like-minded souls—whether we deal more in the personal sphere or the “church” one. Or maybe just a couple good friends who will accompany me across the snowy tundra, sharing struggles and wonderings and possibilities. . . .
B. Casey, 1/11/20 – 1/29-20
¹ See this page as an evidence of some rather intense daydreaming.