Dear Siblings of St. Matthew’s,
An Advent Birthing comes upon us!
A church cannot exist in a vacuum. During this current pandemic, it has become exceedingly clear that faith communities (especially ‘mainline” denominations), already fragile before its appearing, are now wondering how they will recover. This fragility was evident even before the pandemic by an exodus of those who decided that they were done with organized religion and those who found no relevance in traditions that seem disconnected from a rapidly changing world of hungers, needs, and wants. Siloed and circling the wagons, we have allowed the Church to be hijacked by fear and scarcity, thus thwarting creativity, and imagination.
In this midst of the reality, I feel that we need to ask better questions than our defaults, “Will we survive?” “How will we recover?” “Who are we, if we cannot gather in a building on Sunday morning?” “Will we be able to pay our bills?”
Let us imagine better questions like, “Can we see ourselves as a missional Church?” “How can we reimagine our church into our community?” “Can we reimagine our building and our vision as a mission outpost?” “How can we be holy listeners and go out to those who are not members of our church and redefine membership and stewardship?” “Can we see our church through new eyes, and let go of the past?” Let us see our constraints as beautiful opportunities for new ways of being the Church for and in the world.
In their book, A Beautiful Constraint: How To Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages, and Why It’s Everyone’s Business, Adam Morgan and Mark Barden write, “A constraint should be regarded as a stimulus for positive change—we can choose to use it as an impetus to explore something new and arrive at a breakthrough.” These days are an opportunity for the communities of Jesus Christ to join the community and learn to give itself away for the sake of the Gospel and echo the words of William Tyndale, the 16th century reformer, “The Church is the one institution that exists for those outside it.” A church in love with God and neighbor is a church that will stop at nothing to pivot and adapt to a world crying out for hope and redemption. We cannot exist in a vacuum of our own making, devoid of the divine breath of God. We forever must be a community of incarnation and resurrection, aware that our focus solely on self-preservation will make us deaf and blind to the poor and outcast, the lost and the least. Let us turn our silos of fear into streams of new possibilities, bringing the best of who we are in Christ and enter a new reformation for the sake of the world.
Your Blue-Collar Priest,
Father Joseph

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