It is very easy to get discouraged. Life doesn’t go as you planned. Big events change us for good and not so good. We get tired. We get cranky. We get anxious. We become afraid. That is the way of life. It is like that for us as individuals and can even be translated into groups like the Church. It doesn’t feel good to be anxious. But being anxious can have positive effects. Being anxious is not always bad.
Our church is an amazing group of people who gather together to give thanks and praise to God and to renew ourselves to go forth to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. If you look around our church on Sunday mornings, you might notice a few of our more familiar faces are not present. We have had a few deaths, people moving away to be closer to family and medical services, and a few that are taking a break from church for a while. We have some who are facing medical challenges which prevent them from being here, and a few whose only day to unplug is Sunday.
This, understandably, leads to anxiety and fear for some. There are also feelings of sadness and grief for those who are no longer with us. There are spaces that visually remind us of the vacancies in the life of our church. And vacancies hurt, don’t they?
On the other hand, we are called to move forward. Always forward. We are recipients of a great heritage of moving forward. The early church existed because of a message of hope, peace, joy, and love brought people together. They invited others to hear the Good News…and those people invited people….etc. You get the idea.
The church today still relies on people to invite other people to share in the Good News. In spite of all the significant promotion and other things done to get people into church, research shows most people attend because someone “asked them to go”. Perhaps that simple act has brought you to church in your lifetime.
Our church depends on people to be in ministry together. Sharing in a common vision of worshipping God and being the light of Christ to others on Earth. Part of that vision is telling your faith story and allowing others to tell theirs. Another opportunity to invite someone to be part of the faith community you connect to.
Heading into the future can create anxiety and fear. It is also an opportunity to transform ourselves into the individuals and the faith community God intends us to be. And even though some familiar faces are no longer with us, we hold on to the promise;
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
– Matthew 18.20
I miss seeing some very familiar faces around the church these days, but I am also assured in the fact that LOCC is a very special faith community. I hope that anxiety and fear will turn to hope and invitation. An invitation to ourselves and others to experience the transformational love of Christ in our lives. That invitation extended by God’s people will fill any holes in our hearts and any vacancies in our pews. We only have to accept the invitation for ourselves, extend it to others, and show up!