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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Do Not Despair!

As much fun and energy I have experienced in Christian congregations over the past years, there is still a twinge of disappointment in them for most Christians. It has to do with heaven--maybe--in that we always think or expect that the local congregation should be the most heaven-like place in town. That somehow that "foretaste of the feast to come" should make the local congregation more honest, energetic, loving, hopeful, and helpful in the community and in the world. Of course, it turns out that Christian congregations are just one more "estate" in the community, and as such it is filled with the same failed hopes, unfulfilled dreams, back-biting, and sloth that characterizes so much more of our world. And when the congegation does that...well, some get disappointed...
I wonder if this hasn't always been true of the Christian faith? That somehow we are the religion of failed hopes and expectations ever since Jesus of Nazareth wound up on a cross rather than the White House lawn. I guess we have always wanted more from God than God promises to deliver, but still, that leads to disappointment...Are we better off for it? Perhaps. Maybe we can truly live out suffering because we come from suffering? Maybe failure is the key to our future?
When a parishioner runs up to me--all excited for a new venture or program or a ministry that could be offered--I too am hopeful at the prospect...but in a while...the world goes back to black, as the song goes.
I don't think the despair is intentional on anyone's part,but it just comes about as we get captured by a glimpse of the beauty, love, and hope that God gives us, and often we want to share...or need to be shared with (at least for a while). God is tricky this way. We don't get the whole picture, just a lifting up of the corner of the veil...and if we try for more....WHAM! The majesty of God cannot be broached. So, with just a hint, a glimpse, a whisper, a flash brilliance, we plan and dream, minister and work, love, laugh, and cry. Always expecting this time to be different. This time it will all come true...
Now, for many, this type of pollyannish thinking and living seems such a waste...and I suppose it is...but so what? We've seen a better world, a better way to relate, a better life to live, and just because we can't get it now doesn't mean we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater...I love how Garrison Keillor ends his weekly radio show, not because it's corny (it is), but because it's important to "keep in touch." How else, but with our family and friends, do we deal with the disappointment that today in a few short hours is just yesterday? So do not despair at failure, but rather use it to connect with the rest of us.

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