If there is a “slow time” in a church yearly schedule its August. Vacation Bible school is over; there are fewer Bible studies going on, no youth groups or important meetings taking place. We skip Ad board meetings and there are no” special Sundays” to celebrate. Young families spend weekends at the lake and older members go visit their kids.
However as summer turns to fall things begin to get busier. Church Conference, Thanksgiving and Advent, which seemed to be distant events this summer now, are looming on the horizon. Throw in the start of youth group, Sunday school, bible study and trying to start a new Christians Men’s group, things start to get a little hectic. Somewhere in there Debbie and I are taking a vacation to Yellowstone. I’m not complaining. I once had a job where Sept to March was a slow time and I did a lot of thumb twirling. Believe me I‘d much rather be busy!
So you might wonder what this has to do with my parents wedding. They were married on August 4th 1945. It was during that summer many servicemen were home on leave, either coming from the victory in Europe or awaiting the next stage of fighting in the Pacific. They all knew that there was still the invasion of Japan and many decided to get married before shipping off. There were few of the fancy well planned weddings we see today. Many had only a few weeks to plan. My Mom had less than a day to buy a dress, contact the minister and arrange the wedding party. Mom and Dad had barely said “I do” when they had to get into Grandpa Paul (Mom’s Dad) truck and drive to Omaha with a load of cattle. So in his “navy whites” and Mom’s new dress, my parents rode to Omaha in a cattle truck to begin their new life together.
As I reflect on all these things I begin to realize how resourceful we Americans are. We’re able to pull things together, make things happen at the last minutes and with limited resources. We rarely say, “This can’t be done.” But rather “What do we need to do to get it done?”
I think about the people who built our two churches. Belonging to a community of faith was something they cherished and were willing to work and sacrifice for. And so they took what little resources they had and worked not just to erect a building, but to lay a foundation of faith in the community. For those who came before us, having a place to worship, whether in Blue Hill or Bladen, regardless of denomination, was a vital part of their lives and they were committed to building a strong faith community. I am privileged to work with those same kinds of people today in both communities. They are willing devote their time and resources to their church because it is important to them.
I also have begun to realize that a strong faith community is essential to a vital, vibrant and prosperous community. If the foundation of faith is strong, then the community is strong. Those who built these churches understood that places of worship were one of the cornerstones of a healthy community. Our challenge today is to recommit ourselves to the area and reestablish faith in God as a foundation in people’s lives and in the place where they live.
Modern society places a great deal of pressure on us and we are often inclined to declare, “I don’t have time” or “We don’t have the resources”. Yet when something has to be done, we find the time, we find the resources. And this happens because we make them a priority. My parents made getting married a priority. Their generation made winning the war a priority. The founders of our churches in Blue Hill and Bladen made building a church a priority. Perhaps it time we make something else a priority; proclaiming Gods Kingdom.
Some of you understand how God’s presences in your lives sustain, strengthens and uplift you. It gives your life purpose and priority. That same presence is available to all people and it is through the church, Christ Holy Bride, that communities can be uplifted, strengthened and revitalized.
Too often we turn to government “stimulus” package, elected officials, appointed public servants, municipal bonds, new regulations and laws to reinvigorate a community. Perhaps it’s time to realize what those who built our churches understood; a community is only as strong and vibrant as the churches in which they worship. And perhaps we need to better understand what God’s intention for our churches in the greater community is; to make God an integral and foundational part of our community.
I believe in the separation of Church and State. I believe in our system of democracy and the free enterprise system, despite their flaws. I also believe our commitment to follow Jesus Christ compels us to infuse our faith into the social fabric of our community. If we conduct both our private and communal lives in serving God, then we can surely proclaim God’s Kingdom to all people.
I guess there is really no “slow time” for a church or its members.