Reflections from the Rector - September 2018
I once sat in on a marriage counseling session, because I needed to learn how it was done! My rector at the time talked the couple through the idea that relationships have seasons (and they don’t always match up with what we feel outside): summer, autumn, winter, spring. While this is wise counsel for romantic relationships, it is also simply wise counsel, regardless of what relationships you’re in. As minutes turn to weeks and then to months and years, I find myself checking in, asking myself what season I am living into with my days.
Like people, churches are organisms, and they, too, have seasons. Over the past few months, at St. Luke’s we have enjoyed what I would call a true summer, as it was as laid back and fun as it was hot. Now, we impatiently wait for that first gust of cooler air, which reminds us that everything around us is changing, with the possibility that we will change, too. Change is notoriously difficult, but also vitally important. It is only through weathering our autumns and winters that we will feel the joyful growth and resurrection that signals the ambush of spring.
So many conversations I overhear about the Church are regarding whether or not the Church will ever grow. Let’s be honest: the conversations about church decline have been going on for quite some time. These conversations are important, as we must reckon with the truth that numbers, writ large, are on a downward track for church attendance.
That said, I find it much more important for me to lean into seasons overnumbers. It is inevitable that in the life of St. Luke’s, we will find seasons of church growth, as well as seasons of church change, decline, stability, and so forth and so on until the cycle repeats again. This is the natural movementof a church. I don’t find our numbers to be the most important measure of church growth; numbers will change over time, and by the week. What is most important to me is this: prayer, worship, service, community. We might grow or shrink over the years, but if we can look into ourselves and see hearts invested in prayer and worship, our church serving those around us, and St. Luke’s growing in our love for the community of Ada? That will be the church growth that I believe to be indicative of the work of the Holy Spirit.
So, for today, let us enjoy this day that the Lord has made! Let us enjoy the gift of summer that we have been given. And let us invite the peace of God which passes all understanding into our hearts, so that we may be prepared for any autumns or winters that lie ahead of us. I know that, with our hearts set to follow in the way of Jesus, we can weather every season.