In 1999, Thomas Troeger wrote a book called Preaching While the Church is Under Reconstruction (Nashville: Abingdon, 1999). In it he included a parable about a church whose stained-glass window caved in, and the church could not decide whether or not to replace it. Stuck in indecision, life in that church continued under “the God-shaped hole.”
Almost 20 years later, we continue to try to figure out to how be the Church today: what still works and what no longer fits; what values are timeless and what have evolved; what needs fixing and what needs to be thrown away. Here are a few ways we are actively living under and within our own “God-shaped holes:”
Our Kids in the Kitchen program is growing both in numbers of youth being served, and in the depth of conversation at the gatherings. One youth recently said she attended not so much for the cooking lessons, but for the life lessons she received. This is true ministry! Still, we wonder what happens next with these youth. Do they hunger for more “life lessons,” or more opportunities for service, and what is our role in that? This is in some ways new territory, although loving and guiding youth is also something the Church has always done.
Our Trustees are looking at the literal “holes” in our structure. The newer part of our building was built in 1965, and the older parts go back (depending on who you ask) as early as 1730. Building maintenance is going to be required! You’ll be hearing from the Trustees in coming months about such things as roof repair, painting, and a revamping of our electrical systems. All these help us to continue to be a safe place for people for decades to come.
We have a group meeting and studying our existing board and committee structures, and reading with me about church mission, alternative church structures, and what might work for us. This process will continue throughout this academic year as we seek to find the most efficient ways to follow God’s plan for us, here at 808 High Street and beyond.
In all these things and more, our church seeks to do what the Church has always sought to do: to be God’s messenger of good news, grace, peace, unconditional love, and justice. The means may change, but the message, and the God who empowers it, remains the same. I count myself blessed to hang out under the “God-shaped hole” with you!
In “Holy” (see what I did there?!) Love,