The Message (Aug 14) – The One Room Church House – Part Deux
Living in the Tension Between Our Vision and Our Vows
A few weeks ago, in a message entitled “The One Room Church House,” I started a discussion about the blessings of a growing congregation and the challenges of accommodating that growth in a physical space, which we have plans to expand but which at present is beginning to feel a little cramped. And I spoke about how, in that “coming but not yet” reality, God calls us to live faithfully in the tension between present reality and future possibility.
There is another tension within which God calls us to learn to live faithfully as we work to accommodate the blessings and challenges of growth: the holy tension created by our Name, our Vows, and our Vision.
On the one hand, we named our church after St. Nicholas because we intended to make “a special place for children in worship, fellowship, Christian education, and all that we do as a congregation,” a dream that we affirm at every child’s baptism when we vow “to support them in their new life in Christ.”
On the other hand, we created a vision statement that proclaims our intention to “welcome all people to join us in worship, fellowship, and joyful service to the world around us,” and adopted a communion invitation proclaiming that “all who love God and seek a deeper relationship with Christ are welcome at Christ’s table.”
This means including – and balancing the needs – of all sorts and conditions of people: young and old, playful and contemplative, boisterous and quiet, as well as “those that are like us and those who are different” and “those who are easy love and those who are difficult.” And it means balancing these needs in a space that our growth has made tight, and that we are working to expand, yet that will take time to bring fully online.
Balancing differing needs in shared space sometimes poses a challenge. As one of our older members put it, “I love the joyful noise yet I sometimes have a hard time hearing,” then remarking “my ears aren’t what the once were.” (At first I thought she was talking about our hymn singing). Yet the fact that we now have this challenge is an answer to prayer and a sign of God’s faithfulness.
It’s a challenge we can rise to meet faithfully if we call upon God’s help and then, as I said in last Sunday’s sermon, put what we have to give in Christ’s hands, then move ourselves to the side just a little, so Christ can go to work. And it’s a challenge we have been working on, experimentally and incrementally improving over time, negotiating and overcoming growth-related speed bumps along the way, and which we have short and long-term plans that we will continue to implement in the months and years ahead.
So that you can learn more about our past efforts and future plans – and how you can help move them forward – I invite you to read and prayerfully ponder the attachment “Past Efforts and Future Plans for the One-Room Church House.” I also encourage each and every one of us to own our needs and share them with each other in a spirit of truth and love. If you can’t hear the service, whether in the Respite Room or the Great Room, let an usher know so we can try to fix it. If a child is hammering away on a Hot Wheels in the Quiet Play area, quietly offer them coloring book, and let Mother Shivaun or I know so we can take the hard toy out of that soft-toy-only place before the next service.
Above all, remember that we all are learning to love God and each other, that we all are called to communion with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, and that the Holy Spirit is working in each of us to transform us into the full stature of Christ.
And God is not finished with any of us yet…
In Christ’s love,
The Rev. Ken Howard, Rector