‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
As those who serve the church return from General Assembly to all those places they live and serve, it is time to wonder how we proceed with all the tasks of ministry to which we are called in all its different forms. Out of the celebration and commiseration. Out of the hope and the despair. Out of the affirmation and disappointment. Out of the clarity and obscurity. Out of all the emotions we experienced, we are all tasked with being God's gathered and sent people in those communities where everyday life finds us. God's called and sent people, vastly different yet united by a common task - to discern the mission of God and our invitation to be part of that mission where we are today.
I sometimes feel like a broken record continually restating that we need to change the narrative. We need to stop reacting as a church in decline and start acting as a people to whom Christ has given everything that is needed to make a difference in the world today. We need to stop feeling constricted by structures and strategies and start living in the power of the Spirit that knows no bounds or constraints. Stop blaming the institution for our current predicament and rise up as a movement that continually challenges and changes those who serve the institution. We were not created for survival but for flourishing. None of us has all the answers but all of us have some and, together, for the love of God, we can make a difference in the kingdom of God here and now. We don't need to change the rules. We don't need a well written strategy. We do need to join in God's mission and, as we see the evidence of God at work and of the Spirit's power blowing through our church and community, that will be time enough to work out what structures we need to put in place to support the seedlings that push through the soil. This is a time, not to strategise but to encourage experimentation, to try new things, to test the will and purpose of God, to hold lightly to what we are about and to let God be God, the one who brings growth, the One who brings resurrection out of darkness and death, with us or in spite of us! Thanks be to God.