I did not stand on a long line early today. I was in the comfort of my bed resting after a very long thanksgiving day. I am wondering though about this “tradition” of making a line early to beat the crowds for good deals on stuff.
The church struggles to find a voice in the world today. Often in the conversations there is talk about a lack of commitment on the part of young people, “they don’t commit to anything,” I’ve hear it said. Another common reason is how busy young people are today. People do not have the time for another program or responsibility. Yet another relates to the difficulty of religious life, maybe we are asking too much of people?
Then comes “Black Friday” and it blows all our assumptions about people. Today people made plans to be there at very specific times, made rooms in the schedule, and battled early morning, crowds, and financial resources for what they wanted to get. Many even invited people to come along and join them in this exciting time!
I wonder how we can offer Christ in a way that’s compelling to those around us. People are making commitments, making time, and sacrificing for those things that are important. My hunch is that making it less commitment centered, more flexible, and easier to follow is not the answer.
How about the church being where people are? Going (instead of hoping people will come to us) with the deep well of the Christian message and creating ways of being in relationships that call all of us to a deeper relationship with each other and the world. Creating a space that welcomes the questions and where we call each other to accountability for the ways our way of life bring life or take it a way.
Doing this does not guarantee crowds. After all the rich young ruler walked away because Jesus’ teaching was difficult, it demanded surrender. (Luke 18:18-25) What it does assure is our participation in the kingdom work of Jesus in the world. Our engagement in the apostolic work of proclaiming forgiveness and repentance, proclaiming that God loves us too much to allow the world to continue its unloving ways towards self, neighbor and God.
This Sunday begins our Advent journey. We slow down while the world around us speeds up, we hope in a world that at times is hopeless, we wait in a world that at times does not think that waiting matters. Now let us leave our beautiful sanctuaries and stand in the busy lines of life and proclaim that God so loved the world!