Recently, Pastor Jeff preached a sermon titled, This Progressive and Radically-Inclusive Church Rocks! – and it really struck me; he talked about how important it is for The Church of the Village to succeed – and – strangely, I had forgotten this, sort of. More on that in a minute.
Background on me as part of this church – I was a member of one of three congregations that merged to create the Church of the Village in 2005. For The Church of the Village to be born, it was necessary – in a way – for the 3 former communities to die. We left buildings behind, came to a different subway stop, we had different pews to sit in with different people in them. A death. Now, all three communities were going to die for sure if we did nothing different. So – we were brave enough to do something different. And, something new was born. And I got stronger from all that, but I also got a thicker skin, making it harder to feel things.
More background on me – Newsflash: I’ve had other hard times – though not as hard as many. My first marriage fell apart and I got divorced. And I got stronger from each one of those, but I also got a thicker skin, making it harder to feel things.
Now back to Pastor Jeff’s sermon, and how it really struck me. Pastor Jeff said that it is important for The Church of the Village to succeed, and he’s right. He’s right not just because I like it here and because you like it here – or I hope you do since you’re here this morning! He’s right because the kind of “church” that we practice – and I say ‘practice’ because no one is pretending we’ve ‘got it right’ – this kind of “church” is really rare, and it shouldn’t be. And I had forgotten that – sort of. My skin became “thick” enough that I forgot it is really rare to sit in pews with people who have different color skin than me. It is really rare to sit in pews with people who have different bank accounts than me. It is really rare to sit in pews with people who have different faith backgrounds and voting histories and family structures than me. I think God wants us to sit in pews and around tables and in our homes with people who are different, and it doesn’t happen enough. Here WE are trying to become a “Beacon of Light” for progressive, inclusive ministry that Bishop J, our first pastor, envisioned, and that Pastor Vicki and Pastor Jeff are working with us to create. THAT’S GOOD news.
And that’s why I give. My husband, Paul and I make choices about where we give. In the past year we both had medical bills and I earned less when I was recovering from surgery. We made choices and stopped donating to things I think are important. But we did not stop donating here. We are in a committed relationship with this church. Our dating days are over.
Now, the challenging part: If we want this magical experiment in ‘being church’ to continue, we have to be brave enough to do something different AND we have to do it NOW. And – back to Good News – there ARE a whole bunch of ways we as a community are talking about doing something different. (COMMERCIAL – COME TO THE NEXT TALK to hear more or give your ideas!)
And, BESIDES that stuff – one thing we have to do differently here at The Church of the Village in order to vision, create and become that “Beacon of Light” is reach deeper into our own pockets to support this community financially. As Stewardship Co-Chairs, Paul, Nathan Bunce and I are here to inspire us all to find ways to give more financially, even if it’s a tiny amount. And not because it’s a tax-write off, even though it is. And not because it will make you feel good, even though it will. And not because it’s the right thing to do and not EVEN because our community needs more resources, even though it does.
If we want this community to be here for us and for those we love and for the generations that come after us – whom we hope will get even closer than we to reflecting the Glory of God – we need to commit to supporting this community. Because if we are committed, we can build it. Because if we are invested, we can create it. Because if we put our ‘money where our mouth is’ our souls will follow what we pull from our pockets. We need us. We need us to be in a committed relationship with our faith community – even if you’re still “dating” – date with commitment!
And know this. We have gotten stronger from all that we’ve been through, BUT – we also got thicker skins, making it harder to feel things. We need to feel things. We need to feel enough to commit to our community. If you want The Church of the Village to succeed, start with your own wallet. It will be worth every penny. God promises.