I've said before that I really don't like church marquee signs. I think they're tacky. So there!
Or just weird. That would be the category in which I would put the sign outside of a church on Highway 319 in Thomasville. It had an incomprehensible message for travelers:
"History belongs to those who pray."
In the vernacular of the text-speak world: WTF??
I have no clue what this is supposed to mean, but it did stir some thinking in my own head about history, and that idea of "looking back".
This past Sunday, the gospel of Luke was the not-so-nice Jesus on a mission to get to Jerusalem and "Let's do this thang!" There are people who say they want to follow, but.... well, I have to bury my father, I have to say good-bye to my family. As part of this "teaching moment", Jesus talks about how the ones who put their hand to the ploughshare and look back will not inherit the kingdom of Heaven. In the sermon by our interim rector at St. John's, this little gospel nugget was used to remind us, the congregation of St. John's, that we can not continue to look back. Our eyes must be set forward, toward Jerusalem if you will, and not always trying to find our future by staring in the rear view mirror. If we are headed toward Jerusalem, does this mean that we're on a walk toward crucifixion? In a manner of speaking, I say "Yes". A crucifixion and a death of what has been. Old habits, and old scores we want to settle with those who left St. John's to become one with Uganda at St. Peter's. Those "things" of the "way we always have done blahblahblah" are the things we must let die. Dating the "life" of St. John's by its "death" of the schism... that, too, absolutely must die.
Our new priest-in-charge arrives at the end of August. The thought is that Father David Killeen will move from PIC to Rector, and our long-awaited permanent leader will be in place. A chorus of angels will sing, and everybody will be happy.
OK... I don't know about the chorus of angels bit, but happiness or, at the very least, contentment is possible. But it will take some serious doing on the part of the congregation to make that happen.
I reflect back on the sermon that Rev. Dr. Chris Bryan delivered at my mentor's institution service last December. In it, Bryan gently and yet quite clearly and forcefully laid out for all present that the "celebration of a new ministry" was not just Mtr. Lee Shafer's ministry alone; it was the combination of the congregation with the rector to merge and bring forth a "new ministry" for Christ into the world. This is a lesson not lost on me as we await the arrival of Fr. Killeen. If his is to be a ministry that works at St. John's, it will require those of us who are the baptized ministers in the pews to be willing to put out some effort to see him through.
I think I'd change that sign on the church marquee in Thomasville: "Those who pray in the present have a future not governed solely by their history. " I hope that will be true at St. John's.