Yesterday evening I drove up to Franklin. I'm going to be straight with you; I grew up in NH, but that's the first time I've ever been to Franklin. I was there to listen. To stroll around town with my eyes open. To walk into the old St. Jude's Episcopal Church building, which the diocese closed 15 ago, and soak up the presence and possibility of that building.
Then I drove over to Tilton to repeat the exercise in that town and the old Trinity Episcopal Church building. The diocese closed that congregation just 4 years back.
I wasn't alone. I walked around with a group of other listeners, watchers and imaginers, Bishop Rob, and the diocesan staff. Bishop Rob had invited us out precisely to help wonder what the Holy Spirit is whispering to us for this broad region where the Episcopal Church has no organized worshiping, ministering presence. Obviously, it was not a "solution session". We were invited to have wild creative ideas, to speak frankly about what kinds of church might be use-full or use-less, and to extend the care of our hearts to communities far from our normal areas of ministry.
For me, it was also a lovely reminder of what surprising actions we might take back home in Hopkinton,by opening our imaginations likewise. I mentioned at Annual Meeting about how St. Andrew's, 50 years ago in 1968, offered a sex-ed course for all middle schoolers(!). I was kind of blown away by that. It seems unusual; so beyond our normal offerings. And yet we had the courage to see a need and jump out beyond our normal ways to respond. The same courageous spirit shows through when we open our doors to homeless children and their families (as we will again this Sunday-Sunday) with Family Promise.
What other St. Andrew's actions do you know about that might have looked crazy 5 years before they happened? I'd love to hear what you've seen.
Or what would look crazy today, but you've got a little whisper from the Holy Spirit saying "Try it...try it!"? I'd love to hear that too.
Or (and maybe this is the hardest), what do you need, but aren't receiving, because St. Andrew's, or Hopkinton, has been to timid or close-hearted to share it? I want to hear that too.
Easter is coming. Easter, when the God of Creation passed through death and left the gates of that kingdom torn off their hinges, in order for all to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. There is nothing between us and the fulfillment of God's crazy lovely Dream that cannot be overcome (indeed has not already been overcome) by God in Christ. Holy Spirit, may we know again how generously open the canvas of our imaginations really is, and see what a rich paintbox stands ready for our creativity, through the courage of our hearts, the spirit and gifts of our fellow Christians, and the friendship of all our neighbors of good will. Amen.
With Listening Ears,