We Make Our Song

I sat at the deathbeds of three Churches. That was the ministry I was called to. It was not the ministry I expected. It was not, in the way that death never is, the ministry I wanted.

I could see all the ways the story ended differently. More money, more people, more energy. Some of my fictional endings might have worked. Some of them rested on three years of sleeplessness. The story might have ended differently, but my real ministry was to help it end well.

After three deathbeds I stayed in my Church, in my priestly orders, and was terrified. Becoming a “Church Closer” is not the long term ministry I want, in no small part because I fear it would drive me out of the Church. A Church closing, your Church closing breaks your heart and eventually it would be too much.  Eventually I feared I would break.

When I moved for a new call, a new chapter of ministry in a new Church located in a new Diocese and country, I was asked the question we are always asked, “Who are you? Where are you from? What have you done?”

I am from Montana, from the United States, from the Episcopal Church. My family, my life, my friends. This stories are easy to tell.

I closed three Churches.
This is not the story you want to tell. Not in a Church that has told and believed a story of fear and scarcity. Not in a world where success is valued and death is failure.

An insightful colleague asked what those deathbeds taught me.

A deep understanding of resurrection.

I sat at the deathbeds of three Churches. I lived the story that did happen, not the one we all may have wished and dreamed and hoped for.

Three deathbeds. A Church that is scared the story it tells about it’s demise is more than a rumour.
I refute the idea that the church is dying. I look forward long and active years in priestly ministry.

Why?
A deep understanding of resurrection.

We talk about a theology of abundance as if discussion of what our people and money and energy can do is enough. As if abundance will drive out the fear which even perceived scarcity brings.

Christianity, Jesus, is never about enough. Or more than enough.

Jesus is about driving out fear, not to replace it with the paltry offering of ‘enough,’ but to offer the reverent fear, the awe, of and holiness. Jesus is about the extra mile, finding lost sheep, and celebrating. Jesus is about the impossible.
Jesus is the Christ who is Risen.

I believe, my lived theology tells me, that abundance is not about the reality of enough when we think we have too little. Abundance is Resurrection.easter flower

Because enough runs out. Sometimes we have too little. Sometimes we sit at deathbeds.

And then we remind ourselves that even at the grave we make our song:
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

A theology of abundance is weak.

Resurrection is strong. Resurrection is impossible. Resurrection is abundant.
Resurrection is Divine.

The Lord is Risen Indeed!
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Categories: Church, Theology | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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